When Embraer expanded its product range above 100 seats with its E-Jet models, the airframer's then-boss Maurico Botelho said that the intensity of occasional battles with Airbus and Boeing found him yearning for his more usual rival Bombardier.

But the news that Embraer is seriously thinking about a new small mainline airliner suggests that Botelho's successor, Fred Curado, is up for the fight.

Embraer E-Jet 
 © Embraer
Embraer is eyeing a move into the market just above its E-Jet models

The reality is that Embraer has been surveying the market just above its E-Jet models for years, but has been somewhat preoccupied establishing that family as a market leader, as well as diversifying into the business jet and military airlifter sectors.

But the landscape has changed. Bombardier grasped what could be its last chance to re-establish itself in the civil sector with what appears to be a genuine game-changing small airliner in the CSeries. Meanwhile, the arrival of next-generation single-aisles from Seattle and Toulouse appear further away than ever, broadening the potential near-term market and making the case for an Embraer response even more compelling.

The E-Jet was created in response to the ultimately stillborn Fairchild 728Jet. This time the competition is less likely to evaporate, so Embraer must go beyond a "me-too" CSeries clone, but deliver it within a similar timeframe. How it achieves this could be the airframer's greatest challenge yet.

Source: Flight International