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Connectivity key as Embraer eyes 'intelligent' airplane

Embraer sees in-flight connectivity playing a vital role in the next new "intelligent" commercial aircraft it brings to market.

In-flight entertainment systems and passenger connectivity are "more and more important" Embraer executive vice-president new programmes - airline market Mauro Kern told consultancy IAG during a podcast today.

But connectivity "between the airplane and the airline - the data transmission back and forth between the airplane and ground control" is also important, he says, as is "communication even airplane-to-airplane as they fly", referencing the ADS-B [automatic dependent surveillance - broadcast] systems that will likely be required by US and European aviation authorities later this decade.

New technologies are "really changing the air travel as we know it", adds Kern. "We are very excited about it. We think it is a very interesting time to be developing or bringing or bringing out some new technologies that would be of real benefit to the airlines and the customers."

Embraer is studying a number of scenarios for its next commercial jet. Kern recently told ATI and Flightglobal that the airframer expects to decide by the end of 2010 whether to re-engine the General Electric CF34-powered E-Jet family and incorporate newer technology, or bring a larger-capacity, clean-sheet design to market.

In today's interview with IAG, Kern said new engines and the use of composites are some of the considerations for Embraer.

But he also stressed that Embraer is seeing "lots of enhancements" in terms of systems integration. The firm envisions "a more intelligent airplane when it comes to managing all the systems on board to give you the possibility of health monitoring, better diagnostics and prognostics of system behaviour", says Kern.

A new aircraft would also need to be able to "take advantage of new ATM [air traffic management] technology".

(To access the IAG podcast, go to the following URL: )

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