MELBOURNE, FL — Embraer, the Brazilian aerospace giant, provided a much-anticipated E2 program update and unveiled a new paint scheme for its E-Jet E2 test fleet -called the ‘Profit Hunter’, at Embraer’s annual media day in Melbourne, Florida.

To date, Embraer has only been able to muster around 230 sales of the next generation aircraft. While sales have been slow, the manufacturer believes upcoming sales campaigns will be successful.

To assist in these sales campaigns, Embraer has unveiled a special paint scheme on an E-Jet E2 flight test aircraft that will fly at the 2017 Paris Airshow.

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Speaking to Airways, Embraer Commercial Aviation CEO, John Slattery, pitched the E2 ‘Profit Hunter’ as the perfect airplane for a “new generation” of airline CEOs.

“This year it is expected that North American carriers on aggregate will generate about $17 billion dollars which represent 60% of the profitability that is going to be generated around the world. A lot of that is thanks to the management teams that you now have in place if you want to call them the ‘new generation’ management teams that are running the airlines around the world,” said Slattery.

“That feeds to the Embraer thesis because the essence of our thesis is to present to airline management teams an aircraft that will improve their profitability,” Slattery continued.

Embraer Commercial Aviation CEO John Slattery
Embraer Commercial Aviation CEO John Slattery

The ‘Profit Hunter’ livery was painted by an Embraer employee that dedicated several weeks to hand paint the aircraft at night. Upon learning that the painter and his assistant had never flown on an airplane before, Embraer made the decision to fly them to the upcoming Paris Airshow to show their gratitude.

During his presentation, Slattery announced the range, hot and high takeoff performance, and short field performance of the E190-E2 has increased. After a superior performance in flight tests, the range of the E190-E2 increased from 2,450nm to 2,600nm.

The hot and high takeoff range increased by over 200nm out of a city like Denver, and the short field takeoff range increased by over 100nm. No specific modifications were made to improve the range; the test fleet simply outperformed their range estimates.

In recent weeks, Embraer competitor, Boeing launched a formal trade dispute against Bombardier, alleging that Bombardier sold Delta Air Lines its C-Series aircraft at an unfair and unprofitable price.

As the Embraer E-Jet E2 is the closest competitor to the CSeries, Embraer has also taken a public position in this dispute. During his presentation, John Slattery said, “in a fair and balanced campaign” when discussing the E2’s ability to sell itself to airlines.

He was asked if his wording was in response to Delta’s CSeries order, Slattery said: “I am going to be very careful with what I say on that. We are not interested in speaking about that campaign explicitly. Our position is as an independent manufacturer, our position is that fair and balanced commercial trade is the way to go.”

When asked if Embraer would take action against this order, Slattery said they “are supporting Brazil in their action at the World Trade Organization. We are invited to watch the current proceedings that Boeing is undertaking.”

Like most next generation narrow-body aircraft, the E-Jet E2 is powered by the Pratt & Whitney 1000G engine.

In recent months, the 1000G has faced a series of problems that has temporarily grounded dozens of Airbus A320neos. So when he received a question about Embraer facing problems during flight testing with the 1000G, Slattery said “they (Pratt & Whitney) haven’t had a lot of problems with our engine. I am not saying we are shy of problems but the problems people are talking about are primarily around the A320neo engine.”

Slattery went on the defend Pratt & Whitney by saying: “The GTF is the backbone of their future success. We are very confident that whatever needs to be done will be done.”

As the same variant of GTF engine that powers the E2 is already in service on the Bombardier CSeries, Slattery remarked “Embraer is enjoying the benefit of second mover advantage. We are entering service in the first half of 2018 so we hope the majority of these problems will be addressed and solutions will be found by then.”

With the recent dry spell of commercial aircraft orders globally, one can’t help but wonder if the E-Jet E2 program came one to two years too late and missed a wave of orders in the industry from 2010 to 2014.

When pressed on this issue, Slattery said “I don’t think so. I joined Embraer at the start of 2011. One thing that Embraer leadership are uniquely good at is the art of game theory. They are really fantastic at the art of game theory. When you think about the art of game theory, it is all about product positioning and when your resources are available versus what your competitors are doing. Embraer was put on a lot of pressure back then to make the move and make our announcement on what we were going to do. We frustrated the market up until the last moment before we announced the E2.”

Slattery said Embraer “needed to wait for what was going to happen with Airbus. Eventually, John Leahy made the decision to re-engine. Nobody thought that was going to be the decision. The academics would tell you Boeing had no choice at that point. You (Boeing) just had no choice, you had to re-engine to keep the status quo. We didn’t know what Boeing was going to do until Boeing actually announced it to the marketplace. Embraer had to wait, we felt, given our position in the marketplace, until those decisions had been made and then we put our chips on the table.”

Slattery continued his argument by saying “I don’t think that we lost orders. I really think Embraer made the most insightful move which was to do nothing and to wait and be confident in their position and continue to grow the E1 operator base.“

Embraer's Engineering Building in Melbourne, Florida
Embraer’s Engineering Building in Melbourne, Florida

The E-190 E2 will be the first variant of the E2 to become certified. It is expected to enter service in the first half of 2018. As of last week, 53% of the E-190 E2 flight test campaign was complete.

The larger E-195 E2 is scheduled to enter service in 2019 followed by the smaller E-175 E2 in 2021. Currently, there are four E-190 E2 test aircraft and one E-195 E2 test aircraft flying.

This week, at IATA’s General Meeting in Cancun, John Slattery spoke to Edward Russell of FlightGlobal about JetBlue’s prospects of ordering the E-195 E2. With JetBlue recently announcing that they are reviewing their fleet and will possibly retire the E-190, Slattery discussed the possibilities of JetBlue ordering the slightly larger E-195 E2 as a replacement.

With the Paris Airshow just weeks away, Embraer gave few hints on what to expect in terms of potential aircraft orders. While they did acknowledge that they are in discussions with multiple major airlines at the moment for orders of the E-Jet E2, they would not commit to a Paris announcement.

The E195-E2 ‘Profit Hunter’ will perform aerial displays at the Paris Airshow on June 19th, 20th, and 21st.