Karen Walker

Embraer has announced a stunning $4.9 billion order from Crossair for 75 firm aircraft with 125 options.

The contract marks the Brazilian manufacturer's formal launch of its new ERJ-170 and ERJ-190 family of regional jets.

The deal is described by Crossair president and chief executive officer Moritz Suter as a package that will allow the Swiss airline to transform itself into an all-jet carrier by 2006 with a fleet that will span the range from 35 to 108 seats.

The contract calls for Embraer to deliver 15 firm ERJ-145s, 30 ERJ-170s and 30 ERJ-190s. In addition, there are options for a mix of 25 ERJ-145s and smaller ERJ-135s, plus 100 options for ERJ-170s/-190s.

This deal was the largest of several multi-million-dollar order announcements made at the show yesterday (page 4).

Fairchild Aircraft was a close contender for the contract, says Suter, but Embraer won the day because it can supply what he describes as "the complete package".

Bombardier was also considered, but the absence of 30- and 40-seat regional jets in the Canadian company's product line-up ruled them out of the competition.

Deliveries of the -145s will begin in February 2000, while -170s will follow from December 2002 and -190s from June 2004. They will replace Crossair's fleet of Saab 340 and Saab 2000 turboprops.


Mauricio Botelho, Embraer's president and CEO, says Crossair is a "renowned and reliable" airline that gives his company confidence to forge ahead with the $850 million investment programme for the -170 and -190.

General Electric's CF34-8E has been selected to power the -170, while the CF34-10 will power the -190.

Crossair says it was important to have an environmentally "green" engine, particularly with regards to noise levels. Honeywell will supply its Primus Epic avionics suite.

Thomas Hofmann, Crossair's vice-president of finance, says the deal does not include the controversial Brazilian government subsidy, known as Proex, which has been ruled unlawful by the World Trade Organisation but which is now the subject of an appeal by Embraer.

Embraer's Botelho and Crossair's Suter held court at a press conference at the show. Suter emphasised that his airline had been seeking a new long-term partner after its traditional supplier, Saab, abandoned the manufacturing business.

Joking and laughing on the stage, the two chief executives seemed natural friends and business partners.

"We were sad to lose Saab as a partner, but it become obvious that the Embraer aircraft were perfect for what we needed," said Suter.

Typical of Suter's eccentric style, he has decided to give a Brazilian name to his new Embraer fleet.

They will be known as Sambalinos because the carrier calls its speedy Saab 2000s Concordinos and chubby Avro RJ100s Jumbolinos.

Source: Flight Daily News