Manufacturer begins work on upgrade and prepares to talk to other operators

Embraer has begun upgrading software on JetBlue Airways' fleet of 26 E-190s, as persistent glitches continue to be experienced by the carrier.

The Brazilian manufacturer also expects to talk to other E-170/190 operators - including Air Canada, Republic Airways Holdings and US Airways - about the upgrade.

The software on JetBlue's E-190s has been "indicating errors that are not actually occurring", says Embraer. "Now that JetBlue has decided to do this upgrade, it will fix everything."

The Embraer 175 has made its US domestic debut, with the delivery of the first aircraft to Republic Airlines last week.  The company has orders for 30 E-175s, which will be operated in an 86-seat layout under the US Airways Express brand name.  Republic already operates 76 E-170s, the smallest member of the E-Jet family

Completing the modification will take about one day for each aircraft, says the airframer. The upgrade requires JetBlue to begin pulling two E-190s at a time from service and putting them through a new modification line in Nashville, Tennessee.

To compensate for the shortfall in capacity, JetBlue has contracted ExpressJet Airlines to operate four ERJ-145s to support two lines of E-190 flying.

Embraer declines to discuss the cost of the upgrade, pending an assessment of the level of materials and labour involved. But it has said all new-delivery E-190s will include the upgrade "to avoid future problems".

It also says that although other operators of its E-170/190 aircraft have not reported the same problems as JetBlue, it is not clear whether they may eventually experience the same software issues. The manufacturer therefore expects to discuss the upgrade with its customers.

Early last year, JetBlue revealed it was facing several difficulties in launching E-190 operations, including software issues. It is accurate to characterise the problems as "persistent", but "that does not paint the full picture", says JetBlue.

"We are the launch customer of the E-190, so we expected a certain ramp-up in technical dispatch reliability. It has taken a bit longer than expected to identify issues and create solutions, but we are in full partnership with Embraer on this special modification line."

Source: Flight International