Embraer has unveiled plans for 70 and 90-seat additions to its family of regional jets. The surprise move is designed to signal to potential customers and risk-sharing partners the Brazilian manufacturer's firm intent to compete in this market.

The company has announced the "pre-launch" of the ERJ-170 and the stretch derivative ERJ-190, but it has yet to sign up either partners or launch operators. Its main motivation appears to be to establish a market presence in the face of mounting competition. Embraer vice-president Satoshi Yokota says: "We need to show that we're in the game."

The manufacturer adds that recent internal studies and consultations with 46 regional airlines reveal " a clear movement towards the use of larger aircraft". Bombardier has revealed plans for a 90/120-seat BRJ-X development, while sales of its 70-seat CRJ-700, already launched, have doubled to 96 since September. Fairchild and ATR are holding collaborative talks over the 728Jet and 928Jet.

Embraer has previously been linked to ATR and Fairchild, but company president Mauricio Botelho says he is not looking for a product-specific alliance, but for "allies for the future". Embraer is budgeting $600 million to develop the ERJ-170 and $150 million more for the stretch, for which it wants risk-sharing partners to fund one third. Finance houses will be asked to underwrite another third and Embraer, buoyed by a $4.5 billion order backlog, will cover the rest of the costs.

A 36-month development and flight test period is planned, with first delivery of the ERJ-170 targeted for mid-2002, followed by the ERJ-190 in 2004. Embraer hopes to finalise its partnership by mid-year. "We're in discussion with several companies and hope to have a launch customer very soon," says Botelho.

The ERJ-170 conforms to a conventional low-wing design, powered by twin underwing engines. The four abreast, 19.37m (63ft 7in)-long, cabin will seat 70 in an 812mm (32in) pitch. It features four service doors forward and aft, but no overwing emergency exits. Two 950mm-high underfloor holds ensure no centre of gravity problems when operating with or without passengers or baggage.

No engine has yet been selected, but the most likely choices in the 14,000lb-thrust (62kN) class are the General Electric CF34-8D, Pratt & Whitney Canada/Snecma SPW14 and the Allison AE3012. Embraer has set a target sale price of $21 million for the ERJ-170 and $24 million for the ERJ-190.

Embraer's proposals




Max take-off weight (lb)



Max payload (lb)



Cruise (Mach)



Range (km) standard



ER version



Ceiling (ft)



Source: Flight International