Embraer acknowledges that the emergence of new airliners in the 100-130 seat sector will dent its market share, but is refusing to be rushed on developing a next-generation narrowbody to counter the rivals.

"We still do not have a clear vision about what is the optimum configuration of the next narrowbody aircraft, anything from 80- to 180-seats," says Embraer president and chief executive Fred Curado.

Speaking during an earnings conference call to discuss the Brazilian airframer's fourth quarter net income of $200.9 million on sales of nearly $1.9 billion, Curado said Embraer will be "very sober about the right move at the right time". He stressed that that the airframer "will not put ourselves under pressure until we are convinced exactly which way to go".

E-jet family

Embraer is currently the only producer of an all-new large regional jet design - its 70- to 110-seat E-Jet family. However it is facing possible new competition from the all-new 110- to 130-seat Bombardier CSeries and the proposed Mitsubishi MRJ regional jet - both of which are powered by the Pratt & Whitney GTF geared turbofan - which could be launched soon, as well as next-generation narrowbodies from Airbus and Boeing.

Asked specifically to address the CSeries and MRJ, Curado said that if the former is launched and the latter confirmed, it is "rational" to imagine that Embraer may have "some market share lost with those new airplanes".

He noted, however, that "the level of activity that we have been seeing since last year has not decreased". Rather, he said, it is "very intense activity".

Meanwhile, Embraer has reconfirmed its delivery guidance for 2008 of between 195 and 200 aircraft for the commercial aviation, executive aviation and defence and government segments, and 10-15 Phenom 100 jets. The company's firm order backlog rose to a record high $18.8 billion by 31 December last year.

Source: Flight International