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Embraer outlines timeframe for new product decision

Embraer aims to decide within 12-18 months on how it will respond to the growing threat from competitors in its sector, either by enhancing its existing product or developing a new commercial aircraft.

Stating the target time period, Mauro Kern, Embraer's executive vice-president of the airline market, says the decision timing "could be shorter than that". He says several conceptual studies are under way examining various scenarios including low- and high-speed turboprops, E-Jet family enhancements and larger aircraft featuring open rotor engine technology.

One product under consideration is a stretch of the E-195 internally dubbed the E-195X.

Kern emphasises that 2014-15 is not the right time to introduce a clean-sheet aircraft design since it would heighten competition with Airbus and Boeing, companies that have a "fabulous customer base". Kern says new entrants attempting to compete with the two major airframers would face significant challenges.

With new technology such as the open rotor possibly maturing in 2020-25, Kern believes aircraft developed using that and other available technologies could produce gains in cash operating costs.

In the short term, Kern says that while Embraer is not engaged in active discussions with United Airlines, the airframer believes the E-190 could play a role in the major carrier's fleet.

United has reportedly invited Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer to join discussions about a narrowbody order, which the carrier aims to place this year.

Embraer did not compete in the order that Republic Airways Holdings awarded to Bombardier in February for 40 138-seat CS300 CSeries aircraft, says Kern. That was a competition to replace the Airbus narrowbodies operated by Republic's subsidiary Frontier Airlines, he says.

Kern, meanwhile, admits there is a large amount of curiosity about Embraer's future plans for a clean-sheet design or an E-Jet revamp.

"We want to make a mature decision," says Kern, who says that Embraer aims to add value to customers through its product offerings, rather than adopting a "me too" philosophy.

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