Embraer is pinning its hopes on an easing of regional jet weight limits during the next round of pilot contract negotiations at the US mainline carriers, as it looks for an in for its E-Jet E2 family.
The Brazilian airframer sees a possible raising of the 39,010kg (86,000lb) maximum take-off weight (MTOW) limit under current pilot scope clauses at all the US majors by 2022, said Victor Vieira, manager of market research and forecasting at Embraer, at the Boyd International Aviation Forecast Summit in Las Vegas on 29 August.
"We believe that sometime around 2019 and 2022, something will happen to make the E175-E2 scope compliant," he says.
The MTOW of the E175-E2, which is due to enter service in 2021, is 44,800kg, Embraer's website shows.
US scope clauses also cap the number of seats on regional jets in feeder fleets at 76, something Vieira does not see changing.
The Mitsubishi MRJ90 faces the same issue as the E2 with a MTOW of 39,600kg. It is due to enter service in 2020.
The pilot contracts at American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines all include comparable scope limits on regional jets.
The Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents pilots at American, does not see any trigger that could prompt scope relief during the next round of contract negotiations, a spokesman says. The last round of scope relief was triggered by Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganisations or mergers at the three mainline carriers, he adds.
"[The E2 is] going to fly mainline or it's not going to fly in the domestic US for an affiliate partner" of American, he says.
Whether or not there is scope relief, the mainline carriers would like to add more large regional jets to their feeder fleets.
"I will hope, over time, to convince all the pilots that more large regional jets is actually in all of our best interests," United president Scott Kirby told employees in May. His emphasis, however, was on increasing the cap on the number of 76-seat jets rather than their size or weight.
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents pilots at Delta and United, was not immediately available for comment.