The smallest member of Embraer’s E2 family, the E175-E2, has a long road ahead if it is to embark on the same path to success as its larger siblings, the E190-E2 and E195-E2.
The first Pratt & Whitney PW1700G-powered E175-E2 made its maiden flight on 12 December 2019, just weeks before the air transport industry was hit by the shock of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Since then, as airlines reconfigure fleets and plan post-Covid-19 strategies, Embarer has quietly pushed the type’s timeline to certification out by three more years. The airframer hopes that changes in pilot contracts will allow it to sell the aircraft in the USA, the biggest regional jet market in the world.
And so far, Embraer has no firm E175-E2 orders.
“Demand for this segment of aircraft would naturally be high in the US, given the strong regional network already in place,” says Daniel Galhardo Gomes, strategic marketing director at Embraer Commercial Aviation.
“Of course, due to its heavier, but much more fuel-efficient engines, the aircraft doesn’t meet current scope clauses – which is a huge missed opportunity environmentally.”
Scope clauses are passages written into contracts between major US airlines and pilot unions that limit the number and size of aircraft that may be flown by airlines’ regional affiliates. They generally prevent carriers from farming out more flying to regionals – like Mesa Airlines, Republic Airlines and SkyWest Airlines – thus protecting mainline pilot jobs.
Additionally, scope clauses largely prohibit regional affiliates from operating aircraft that have more than 76 seats or maximum gross take-off weights exceeding 39,000kg (86,000lb).
While the first-generation E170 and E175 did not exceed that limit, the E175-E2, with its heavier P&W turbofan engines, put the model about 5,440kg over the maximum weight.
“Embraer recognises the uncertainty of the future scope clause scenario in the USA,” Galhardo Gomes says. “Nevertheless, considering that all next-generation regional jets are heavier, mostly due to the larger, higher-bypass ratio engine, Embraer sees the 86,000lb [maximum take-off weight] scope relief as a natural step to allow airlines to benefit from new technologies and increase their efficiency in a highly competitive, low-margin industry. The environmental benefits should also not be overlooked.”
The airframer touts the jet’s increased fuel efficiency over older models, especially since the industry has committed to reducing its global greenhouse gas emissions to half of 2005 levels by 2050.
Embraer launched the E2 programme in 2013 at the Paris air show, building on its globally successful line of first-generation E-Jets, which include the GE Aviation CF34-powered E170, E175, E190 and E195.
Just three variants compose the E2 line-up: the 80-90-seat E175-E2, 97-114-seat E190-E2 and the 120-146-seat E195-E2. PW1700Gs power E175-E2s, while more-powerful PW1900G engines are used on the two other variants.
Embraer also gave its E2s new wings and landing gears, and the company says 75% of all systems are new as well.
The E190-E2 entered service in early 2018 with launch customer Wideroe, in Norway, and the E195-E2 followed in September 2019 with launch customer Azul, the Brazilian airline founded by David Neeleman.
The E175-E2 now is unlikely to enter service until 2024; four years behind its original schedule.
At the 2013 Paris show, with the aircraft’s launch, US regional carrier SkyWest announced a firm order for 100 E175-E2 jets, with an additional 100 options. That deal has since expired, Embraer says.
The E175-E2 has one more row of seats than the first-generation E175. It will burn 16% less fuel and save airlines 25% in maintenance costs, Embraer says.
But even without the US market – into which it plans to continue to sell the lighter first-generation E175 – Embraer sees ample opportunity for the type in other regions.
“The US is not the only market for the E175-E2. In fact, we see relevant replacement opportunities in Europe, where the first-generation E175 is successfully operated by many carriers, as well as [the] Asia-Pacific, including China,” Galhardo Gomes says.
Embraer has started sales campaigns in other parts of the world and expects to announce an E175-E2 launch customer soon.
The jet’s certification campaign will be conducted with three aircraft, Embraer says. The first and second prototypes will be used for aerodynamic, performance and system tests, while the third will be outfitted with interior furnishings and used to validate maintenance tasks.
Embraer has not said how many E175-E2s it hopes to sell, but Galhardo Gomes says the company expects the model will be “as successful as the first-generation E175 along its lifecycle”.
“This should give you an idea of our ambitions with this aircraft,” he adds.
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