Some of the Embraer ERJ-135 regional jets being culled from the US fleet are likely to be converted into corporate aircraft, but a plan to support such activity has not yet been decided.

The ERJ-135 is the basic platform that Embraer uses for its Legacy 600 executive jet. It is "a natural path" to pursue executive shuttle applications for the commercial type, says Mauro Kern, Embraer executive vice-president, airline market, noting that the ERJ-135 is suitable "for a number of corporate uses".


Kern says "it's hard to say at this point" if Embraer would support ERJ-135 conversions through partners or conduct the work in-house. "We need to see what the actual demand is," he says, adding: "It's a bit early."

In recent weeks, Continental Airlines has brokered a new feeder deal with affiliate ExpressJet that will see the regional's 30 ERJ-135s removed. AMR is cutting regional capacity at its American Eagle Airlines subsidiary. The unit's 38 ERJ-135s are expected to be the first to go. Additionally, an amended agreement between Delta Air Lines and Republic Airways Holdings will see the regional airline group remove from service all 15 of its Chautauqua-flown ERJ-135s at a rate of two aircraft a month from September.

These decisions do not leave many E-135s flying "but I am not surprised. With today's fuel price, the aircraft is not economically viable," says Saab Aircraft Leasing chief executive Michael Magnusson.

Secondary markets are expected to assume some of the lift. "We foresee opportunities for airline use of the ERJ-135s in some secondary markets, the most important ones being probably Russia and other CIS countries," says Kern.

"There is a big fleet of regional aircraft of similar sizes flying in those countries that is urgently requiring retirement, with the $130-plus oil prices." For example, he says, there are about 280 Yakovlev Yak-40s with an average age of 30-plus years.

Magnusson predicts that the ERJ-135s "are toast" unless they can be turned into corporate aircraft, adding: "They are too expensive for the cargo market."

Source: Flight International