Embraer does not see seat-supply shortages as a major threat to the production ramp-up plan for its E-Jet E2 family.
In January, Boeing disclosed its intention to establish a joint venture with automotive seat manufacturer Adient to develop a line of aircraft seats. Noting that seat supply had been a "persistent challenge", the US airframer said it was "taking action to help address constraints in the market".
Embraer's vice-president of marketing for commercial aviation, Rodrigo Silva e Souza, says that its smaller production volumes – the combined monthly output of Airbus and Boeing exceeds Embraer's annual total – means that "we are not seeing a problem as critical for us".
Souza says E2 production will be "significantly" increased. He does not specify the timing or a rate change, but admits that the ramp-up will need to be "conservative" to avoid supply-chain issues. But he adds: "We are not seeing any big threat [regarding seat supply]."
Embraer has a joint venture with Zodiac Aerospace, named EZ Air, to manufacture interior equipment for both current and next-generation E-Jets. The Mexico-based company does not produce seats, however.
Zodiac is the sole supplier of pilot and economy passenger seats for the first-generation E-Jet series.
Meanwhile, KLM Cityhopper is evaluating a seat change for its E190s as part of a potential mid-life cabin upgrade. The regional carrier's vice-president of technical services and fleet development, Hans Werner, tells FlightGlobal that the airline is "very much concerned" with the quality of E-Jet passenger and pilot seats and about the equipment manufacturer's "responsiveness".
Cityhopper is discussing with Embraer the possibility of retrofitting the E2's pilot seat to E190s. The manufacturer switched to UK-based crew-seat specialist Ipeco as supplier for the new-generation aircraft.
Installing new passenger seats would require that a supplemental type certificate be secured. Nevertheless, Werner says a seat change is a "serious consideration" as Zodiac, in his view, has "lost sight of customers" in recent years.
If the cabin upgrade were to be realised, the 2019-20 winter season would be an ideal opportunity for the modification effort, Werner says, as maintenance providers will during this year's winter season be "too busy" with regular base checks activities to accommodate the cabin upgrade.
Cityhopper has operated the E190 since 2008, and is still receiving aircraft of the type as part of a fleet expansion programme that will be completed in April. Yet the cabin-upgrade project would, if launched, cover the carrier's entire, 32-strong E190 fleet, Werner indicates.
He says a cabin upgrade would also involve raising passenger capacity on the E190, potentially up to 108 seats. This would require support by the pilot union as the existing collective labour agreement is linked to the jet's current 100-seat capacity.
This article has been updated to clarify Zodiac's role in the E-Jet programme