FARNBOROUGH: Embraer keeps up E2 momentum

Embraer's re-engined E2 left an impact on this year's Farnborough air show, as rival Bombardier sought to make the best of the industry's biggest gathering after an unfortunately timed engine failure on its CSeries jet.

Embraer officially launched the E2 at last year's Paris air show and ensured that its latest commercial offering stayed in the spotlight at Farnborough with a cabin mock-up of the E2 cabin. Equipped with larger windows and overhead bins, mood lighting and a staggered business class seat configuration, it formed part of the airframer's strategy to win new orders.

And it certainly did, unveiling a tentative order for up to 100 E175 E2 jets from US regional carrier Trans States Holdings followed by a commitment for up to 50 E195 E2s from Azul. The Brazilian carrier will be the E195 E2 launch operator.

The new orders come as Embraer expects to freeze the design of the E190 E2 by end-2014, with the first iron bird to be ready in 2015.

The Brazilian airframer also continued to disclose more orders for its current generation E-Jet, known as the E1. Existing customer Fuji Dream Airlines, among others, was revealed as the previously undisclosed customer behind a firm order for three E175s with an additional three options.

While the E2 dominated headlines at Embraer, Bombardier tried to play down the absence of its in-development CSeries jet. An engine failure involving the aircraft's Pratt & Whitney engine in late May grounded the aircraft's flight test programme and also dashed any hopes of the CSeries making its international debut at Farnborough.

Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Mike Arcamone attempted to play down the CSeries absence, saying that other components of the testing programme are still progressing as the airframer hopes to resume flight testing in "weeks". Despite the CSeries missing Farnborough, Arcamone says the airframer would rather have prospective customers visit Bombardier's facilities for a hands-on experience with its new jet instead of jostling with the crowds at a major air show.

The airframer detailed new commitments for the CSeries over the last few days, including its first African CSeries customer. The unidentified airline has agreed to acquire five CSeries aircraft. Arcamone says the carrier already operates the CRJ and Q400, which include African airlines SA Express, Arik Air and Rwandair. Arik, in particular, has previously indicated interest in the CSeries.

An existing CS300 customer, believed to be Russia's Ilyushin Finance, committed to order up to 13 additional CS300s.

Bombardier also announced CSeries commitments by Jordan's Petra Airlines, China's Zhejiang Loong Airlines and lessor Falko Regional Airlines during the air show.

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