Move designed to increase appeal of small airliner family

Embraer is developing extended-range variants of its large regional jet family as it undertakes an aggressive campaign to secure the first customer for the 195 model early this year and boost sales prospects for the 190.

Although the smaller 190 has a backlog of 155 orders, Embraer has yet to secure a new launch customer for the 108- to 118-seat 195 following Swiss International Air Lines' suspension of its order.

But that may change soon, as Embraer has been in talks with about six airlines for several months, and "a couple" are due to decide in the first half of this year, says Embraer executive vice-president for civil aircraft Fred Curado. "The others [will decide] towards the end of the year," he says.

The "advanced range" variants - to be designated the Embraer 190AR and 195AR - will have strengthened bulkheads and wing structures to support about 1,360kg (3,000lb) of extra fuel, raising maximum take-off weight to 51,200kg, says Curado.

On paper, the design changes raise maximum range for the 190AR from 4,070km (2,200nm) to 4,260km. Curado notes, however, that specification charts do not reflect typical commercial performance. In JetBlue Airways' configuration, maximum range for the Embraer 190AR rises from the baseline model's 3,150km to 3,700km while the 195 model would jump from 3,330km to 4,260km, says Curado.

JetBlue has converted its entire order for 100 190s to the advanced-range variant after asking Embraer for the new model.

JetBlue's practice of incorporating in-seat screens for its in-flight entertainment was penalising range performance for the new aircraft, says Curado. Embraer decided several months ago to launch the extended-range variants in response. The first modified Embraer 190AR is now in flight testing, he says.

The changes are expected to improve sales prospects for the 195. The baseline 108-seat 195 model has better economics on a per-seat basis than the smaller 190, says Curado. But that advantage has been offset by a gap of roughly 740km in range performance compared with the 190, which may have restricted the aircraft's sales potential.

Curado adds that the aircraft's General Electric CF34-10E powerplant will not need to be modified to support the additional weight. GE and Embraer had been conducting early studies last year about a possible thrust increase for the forthcoming 108-seat 195 model, having ruled out a shift to the Pratt & Whitney PW6000 engine.


Source: Flight International