Embraer will announce at the Paris air show later this month the selection of an engine and cockpit avionics for its proposed new ERJ-170 and ERJ-190 family of regional aircraft. This will clear the way for a final decision on development planned for 1 July, although there is a possibility go-ahead could be given in time for the show.

"We're getting to the end of a process where we think we'll have available all the information we require to build a business plan and to make a decision on whether to go ahead or not," says Embraer president and chief executive Mauricio Botelho.

The Brazilian manufacturer aims to certificate the 70-seat ERJ-170 by October 2002 and the 98-seat ERJ-190-100 by mid-2004. Botelho says this timetable is predicated on a decision to be taken by the start of July. Embraer plans to launch an eight-month joint definition phase, during which its yet-to-be-selected team of risk-sharing partners will be based in Brazil.

"At Paris, we'll be able to talk about the engine and avionics manufacturer," adds Botelho. The engine contest appears to have come down to a straight fight between the BMW Rolls-Royce BR715-50, General Electric CF34-8E with the Snecma/Pratt & Whitney Canada SPW16 trailing due to Embraer's tight timescales. Honeywell, Sextant and Rockwell are bidding for the avionics contract.

ERJ-170/190 programme director Luis Carlos Affonso adds: "We're working on other packages, both systems and structural segments. We're a bit ahead on selecting systems and I'd say the next ones to be decided will be the auxiliary power unit, electrics and air management systems."

Embraer has divided the structural workshare packages into five elements, comprising the main wing, forward and aft fuselage sections, empennage and tail cone. It plans to retain production of the nose and mid-fuselage section at Sao Jose dos Campos.

The first decision due to be made is to choose a wing supplier from the "five good proposals" which the company says it has received. "Our target is to finalise all of these selections by early July.

Embraer, in the meantime, has raised the projected cost of ERJ-170/190 development to $850 million. An extra $100 million will be required to develop the recently revealed 108-seat stretch, which Embraer has designated the ERJ-190-200 (Flight International, 19-25 May).

(Taken from Flight International 9-15 June 1999)

Source: Flight Daily News