Embraer hopes to secure its first airline order for the ERJ-140 before the end of the year as the Brazilian manufacturer embarks on a fast track development of the new 44-seat regional jet derivative.

The company is chasing incremental orders and conversions of airline orders, with ERJ-145/135 operator American Eagle Airlines viewed as a strong prospect, says Embraer North America director of sales Mark Hale.

He confirms that the ERJ-140 evolved from initial discussions with American Eagle, which has scope clause restrictions on operating aircraft with more than 45 seats. Embraer reveals it had earlier looked at a proposed reconfigured ERJ-135EC, accommodating 41 seats in the same 79cm (31in) pitch as the 37-seat aircraft.

The baseline ERJ-135 has been lengthened, with a larger 3.68m (12ft 1in)-long central fuselage panel II and a 2.72m-long panel IV, forward and aft of the main wing respectively. The aircraft will have 95% commonality with the ERJ-145/135 and will be made on the same production line.

There are about 100 different line items, and carriers will be required to decide on a version 15 months before delivery.

Initial definition work has begun and will be followed by detailed product definition, due to be competed by May next year. The initial ERJ-140 test aircraft will be converted from one of the prototype ERJ-145 airframes (serial number 804), with work to begin by March. The aircraft will begin a six month flight test programme in June leading to an anticipated type certification in February 2001.

Source: Flight International