Embraer plans to formally launch a second-generation E-Jet family with both new pairs of engines and new sets of wings by mid-year, Embraer chief executive Frederico Curado says.

But the Brazilian airframer rejected the possibility of accelerating the timing for entry into service, which is now pegged for 2018, or three years after the arrival of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ90).

Embraer is presently focused on signing deals with launch customers for the family of aircraft that will replace the Embraer 170/175 and 190/195 jets.

"We are still targeting somewhere by mid-year official launch," Curado says. "Ideally, I would like to launch this new vision of the aircraft with some launch customers."

The still-unnamed second-generation E-Jet family will feature new pairs of wings for the E-170/175 and E-190/195, fly-by-wire flight controls and Pratt & Whitney PW1700G and PW1900G engines.

The latter upgrade draws Curado's most enthusiastic response. "My major concern was to make sure we have a kick-ass engine," Curado says. "We nailed that down late last year. The airplane will be a blockbuster."

Some analysts, however, have questioned Embraer's decision to introduce the aircraft three years later than the MRJ90, which is powered by similar PW1200G engines.

Last year, some Embraer officials, including Paulo Cesar Silva, president of Embraer commercial aviation, publicly considered advancing the entry-into-service timeline for the second-generation family of E-Jets to 2016. But the decision to incorporate both new engines and new wings apparently forced Embraer to stick to the original schedule of service entry in 2018.

"We're talking about two new wings," Curado says. "At this stage I would not count on anything earlier than 2018. It's not a re-engining. It's a major revamp of the airplane."

Embraer, meanwhile, is continuing to re-establish the supply chain on the second generation of the E-Jet family. The airframer is re-bidding most of the major systems and components as part of both a strategy to increase performance and reduce the cost of production, Curado says. "We may change some other suppliers in the next few months," Curado says.

Another key decision Embraer faces is whether to offer a further stretch of the E-195. The existing 120-seat model would compete with the Bombardier CSeries CS100, which ranges between 110- and 125-seat layouts. A 130-seat version of the E-195 would compete for orders at the bottom of the CS300, which has recently been stretched to accommodate a baseline of 135 seats and up to 160 in a high-density configuration.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news