Embraer is celebrating after US low-cost carrier JetBlue became launch customer for the Embraer 190 regional jet. The 100-aircraft order is worth $3 billion and would rise to $6bn if 100 additional options on the same aircraft are exercised.

For the Brazilian manufacturer, it means speeding up the production of the latest member of the Embraer 170/190 family. For JetBlue, it means a radical shift in its ambitions as it challenges some of the largest carriers in the United States.

The deal - marking JetBlue's first move away from reliance on Airbus A320 aircraft - is one of the biggest deals Embraer has signed to date. Embraer's shares jumped 7% when the deal was announced immediately before the start of the show.

The JetBlue deal brings Embraer's order book for the Embraer's 170/190 family to 234 firm orders with 289 options. It follows a $2.1bn deal in May when US Airways announced it was buying 85 Embraer 175 aircraft.

"JetBlue has established itself as a leading carrier in the low-fare market, and to have our aircraft chosen to join this prestigious fleet is the highest praise," said Mauricio Botelho, president and chief executive of Embraer. "JetBlue passengers will find the Embraer 190 provides them with the same high standards of cabin comfort and appeal they are used to on JetBlue, offering a truly seamless experience throughout the JetBlue system."

JetBlue says it will take delivery of the first seven Embraer 190 aircraft in 2005, with the balance coming at a rate of about 18 a year until the end of 2011. Options would begin in 2011. The Embraer 190 is powered by twin General Electric CF34-10E engines.

Source: Flight Daily News