Story and Photos (unless otherwise noted) by: Chris Sloan
2019 is a significant milestone year in Embraer’s history. The company is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of its founding, 40 years of operations in the United States, the 15th Anniversary of the E1 entering service (with LOT back in 2004), and is hurtling toward final approval and integration of its $4.2 billion joint venture with Boeing and eventual rebranding as Boeing Brasil Commercial. It’s a time of bittersweet celebration as the American company will own 80% of the venture.
Fifty years ago, no one could have foreseen the success of the São José dos Campos based manufacturer which has become the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial aircraft up to 150 seats with more than 100 customers from all over the world.
The E-170/175/190/195 program alone has logged more than 1,800 orders with 1,500 aircraft delivered. The company has delivered over 8,000 aircraft since inception. Embraer and their E-Jets have become fixtures at North American airports and those around the world.
The Factoids in the slides below tell the story. Consider that one out of three aircraft departing from Newark, New York LaGuardia, Philadelphia, and Washington Reagan Airport are aircraft made by Embraer. Chicago O’Hare is the airport with the most number of Embraer departures.
As a crescendo to a pivotal year, Embraer delivered what is likely its last ever new model commercial aircraft, prior to the expected early 2020 closing of the Boeing JV: The handover of the first E195-E2 on September 12, 2019 to launch customer Azul.
The Brazilian airline holds orders for 51 E195-E2s with an additional three each from lessors AerCap and Aircastle. Azul expects to receive six by the end of the year.
Fittingly, the Brazil airline who was the E195-E1’s launch customer is the first airline to operate the largest airliner ever built by Embraer, the new E195-E2 home-grown Brazilian product.
To celebrate the momentous occasion, Embraer staged a lavish spectacle of an event. In spite of its celebratory mood on-stage, the event was bittersweet as it marked the end of an era – the coming end of Embraer’s independence as a commercial aircraft manufacturer.
Azul is by far the world’s largest operator of the E195-E1. The carrier flew its first E2 passenger flight on Wednesday October 16, 2019 with employees, VIP, and media aboard from its Campinas base to the Brazilian capital, Brasilia.
According to an Azul spokesman, revenue services will commence in a matter of weeks with initial routes involving Campinas, Belo Horizonte and Recife – Azul’s three hubs in Brazil.
Azul’s E195-E2 seats 136 passengers in an all-economy layout in the passenger pleasing 2 X 2 configuration – 18 more than the current E195-E1s due to the fuselage stretch allowing three extra rows.
Each seat features personal Sky Live TV inflight entertainment and a power outlet. Azul plans to install inflight WiFi on the E195-E2 soon.
The aircraft, registered PR-PJN, named in honor of Azul’s first President, Pedro Janot was presented in Brasilia to the current President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro.
However, since its launch in 2013, the next generation E2 program has suffered from disappointing sales. As of the end of the second quarter 2019, Embraer had only booked an anemic 168 firm orders and 111 options between the E190-E2 and E195-E2. The E2 was given a much needed boost at the 2019 Paris Air Show with KLM Cityhopper’s landmark order for 35 E195-E2s and new E2 customer Bitner joining the fold.
The order backlog for the U.S. scope compliant first generation E175-E1 stands at 194 airframes, exceeding the entire E2 program firm orderbook. This is expressively due to the E175-E2 exceeding the U.S. scope clause weight by 12,000 pounds because of the extra weight of the P&W GTF engines.
This has had significant negative sales implications. Last year, Sky West cancelled their order for 100 E175-E2s taking the E175-E2 tally down to zero orders. Putting that in perspective, the E175-E1 is far and away the program order champ with firm orders and deliveries plus 329 options.
This ultra-prodigious variant is powered by the North American regional airline market. Nevertheless, the E175-E2 program continues apace with first flight expected expected before year’s end.
Though the E1 E175 and to a lesser extent the E190 are ubiquitous in U.S. skies, North American carriers are noticeably absent from the E2 order book altogether.
The E2 has lost campaigns against the rival A220 with Air Canada, Delta, JetBlue, and the forthcoming David Neeleman airline codenamed Moxy.
Sales campaigns are ongoing with U.S. carriers not limited by scope clauses and without regional flying. Spirit’s much speculated new aircraft order is in the mix.
Arian Meijer, Embraer’s Chief Commercial Officer concedes that the company has no real scope compliant answer within the current E2 program.
They believe over time it will be raised in future pilot labor negotiation, but in the meantime the E1 is filling the void with continued strong sales as evidenced by the backlog.
With the emboldened clean sheet Airbus A220-100 and new entrant Mitsubishi’s M100 SpaceJet designed specifically for U.S. scope clause compliant operations directly at the heart of the E2 program, Embraer is even more compelled to play offense.
Meijer is undaunted, “We believe with the E175-E2 we have a strong competitor against the M100 if the scope clause ever changes, but the strongest competitive element we have is the big customer base in the U.S. The operators are already operating the E1. We have a very good support base globally and in America.”
To amp up the sales campaign, Embraer unveiled its first E195-E2 as The Tech Lion. This striking, “tech forward” aircraft is the forth in a series of custom painted, attention getting #ProfitHunter E2s. It has become the focal point of a worldwide sales tour.
The Tech Lion tour started at the Paris AirShow, in June, and then embarked to China and Southeast Asia (where Embraer has made the least inroads), and Continental Europe.
It arrived in North America in October before heading to South America, Africa, the Middle East, and finally the Dubai Air Show in November.
Airways caught up with the North American segment of the tour and media briefing when Tech Lion visited Embraer’s North American headquarters at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
The E2 era has begun
Embraer is delivering 85-95 E-Jets in 2019. They are not revealing target deliveries for the E2 but estimate that 20% of production in 2020 will be E2s and increase in proportion from there.
The E1 will continue in production as long as there is demand – which there clearly is for the E175 variant, particularly in the U.S.
Since the first E2 was delivered to launch customer Wideroe of Norway in April 2018, there are eight E190-E2s in service with two operators.
Azul, who took delivery of their first E2-E195 in September expects six E2s delivered by the end of the year.
Though the E2 production rates and new orders seem paltry, the gesticulation of the program is considered successful especially compared to other new aircraft introductions.
The marketing team takes great pains to message that unlike the 737MAX and A320neo, the E2 isn’t just a re-engining of an existing airplane but a 95% new platform.
Virtually every aspect of the aircraft of the aircraft is new: engines, avionics, cabin, flight control systems, landing gear, and most noticeably different wingspans optimized for each variant in the same family.
The E2’s range has been increased over the E1 with the E2-190 able to operate the longest missions up to 2,850 nm. The E175-E2 and E195-E2 have legs of 2,000nm and 2,600nm respectively.
Embraer is evaluating increasing the range capability but not by more than a few hundred miles. The competing A220-100 with range of over 3,400nm has won sales campaigns from incumbent E1 operators JetBlue and Air Canada and the forthcoming Moxy as it the A220 is able to operate longer routes, adding flexibility and new route opportunities to customer’s networks.
Meijer, befitting his role as chief salesman, says the E2 is optimized for the sweet spot of the regional jet market, giving it a trip cost and seat cost advantage: “We designed the E2 around all the vast majority of destinations being flown with narrow-body regional jets. The range of our product is sufficient for the vast majority of our customer’s missions. If you look at 2,600 nautical miles of our E195-E2, you’re looking at 6-7 hour flights. That’s a huge range.”
He goes on to say adding more range would be too costly. and penalize the rest of the fleet throughout the network: “We optimized the aircraft at this range so that’s why we have a 10% fuel burn advantage over the A220. If you look at the operating cost of the A220-100 versus E190-E2, you get the same seat cost. Compared to the E195-E2, you get the same trip cost.”
From a market and network perspective Meijer claims “With our product, airlines can fly a thinner route with fewer passengers, and add frequency with attractive economics similar to the 737 MAX & A320neo. Benefits like this offset the complexity of adding another flight type.” With lower seat cost per mile economics like this, Embraer is pursuing sales campaigns with LCCs, previously unheard of territory for regional jets.
Even though it superficially looks similar to the E1, the E175-E2 and especially E195-E2 have been stretched over their E1 predecessors. The ever bullish Meijer claims this to be an advantage: “The E2 family is slightly different than the E1 family. The E175-E2 is slightly bigger (than the E175-E1). The E190-E2 is the same size, and the E195-E2 is quite a bit bigger (versus the E195-E2).”
He believes the E195-E2 will be the most successful member of the family for several reasons: The E195-E1 was not big enough to justify the extra cabin attendant so a number of airlines stayed with the E190 with a maximum seating of 100, especially in Europe.
The E195-E2 can seat up to 146 seats in high density economy layout at 28” pitch. At 29”-30” of pitch, it can easily do 136-138 seats.Ironically, the E195 was the least successful of the first generation E1 fleet with 172 total orders and deliveries.
With this uniquely optimized the E2 family, will and can the E2 be up-gauged any further with a lengthened fuselage and extended wing-span to compete with in the top end of the 100-150 passenger market against the A220-300? Embraer executives gave a resounding “never say never, but not likely” answer. Not just for the “will” market reasons but for the “can’t” in that the platform itself has been upsized about as far as it can go.
The E2’s pilot compatibility with the E1 is another key selling point for the existing customer base against new entrants like the M100 and the A220.
The transition from E1 to E2 takes just 2.5 days between the simulator and class-room, minimizing training costs. The next generation flight deck boasts new Honeywell Primus Epic Avionics Suite with much larger screens than the E1.
The E2’s fly-by-wire system sourced from Moog reduces weight, increases fuel efficiency, enhances control and increases safety compared to the E1.
Embraer claims that the E2 is already a mature platform, meeting or exceeding all targets including flight tests, reliability, maintenance, fuel burn, emissions, and noise footprint.
The Pratt & Whitney GTF 1900G Geared Turbo Fan engines are the star of the show, accounting for 17-25% less fuel burn than the E1s. But they have been afflicted by teething problems, having been swapped on two early delivery E190-E2s.
Embraer hasn’t experienced the same reliability foibles plaguing those on the A220, A320neo, and 737 MAX. The shortcomings in P&W engine deliveries have slowed the number of E2 deliveries, however.
And whither the E2 under Boeing Commercial Brasil? With the transaction still awaiting final anti-trust clearance by the EU, the merger isn’t expected to close now until early 2020.
Though the structure and leadership has been mapped out with Embraer Commerical’s CEO John Slattery remaining CEO, many questions remain. The companies both run completely autonomous from each other for now.
Will Boeing alter the E-Jet branding like Airbus did from the CSeries to the A220? Speculation runs rampant but clearly there is brand equity in the E-Jet name that the CSeries didn’t have.
Areas where they do expect to gain synergies are in marketing, support, engineering, and particularly costs according to Meijer “with our bigger brother (Boeing) backing us, we can leverage our costs down.”
This could lead to an even more competitively priced E2 product, lead to the long speculated E-Turboprop, and engineering support from Brazil for new Boeing projects like the SMA and NMA.
Boeing has its hands full with the 737MAX and 777X for now and Embraer’s famed engineering work-force’s expertise was a driver for the creation of the J.V.
Onboard The Tech Lion #ProfitHunter
Airways joined other members of the media in sampling a most unique leg of the Tech Lion World Tour. Our Tech Lion emblazoned boarding pass indicated that this wasn’t just any flight to just any destination.
Following the briefing, we were bussed over to a remote hangar and introduced to the E195-2 in the (aluminum) flesh. With its lengthened fuselage, it echoes the appearance of a 757, A321, or even some remarked a stretch DC-8 of days gone by.
The E195-E2 clocks in at 136 feet in length which is 9 feet longer than the E195-E1. Adding some context, the E2 fuselage is longer than a A320, 737 MAX-8, or A220-300 and only 10 feet shorter than an A321.
Our E195-E2 is painted in the arresting one-off Tech Lion guise. The nose is emblazoned with an aggressive digitally stylized Tiger, with the digital theme continuing in a gold and black livery on the entire fuselage. Previous #E2ProfitHunters were painted with a Bengal Tiger, Shark, and the original Golden Eagle.
After swarming the aircraft for photo opps and selfies, our contingent walked the red carpet, up the air stairs to the cabin of the E195-E2.
Our first impression is the striking first class cabin with its twelve staggered direct access aisle seats, like a long-haul aircraft.
With generous recline and padding, these are the most comfortable seats I have ever experienced on a regional jet.
The tray table is compact but has an embedded device holder. Oddly, there is AC power for each seat, but no USB.
As innovative as this configuration is, at 54 inch pitch, these seats are not an effective use of real estate for most customer’s fleets.
African E2 operator Air Peace is the only customer who has opted thus far for these OEM seats made by Embraer East in Florida.
And many customers appreciate the 1 X 2 first class cabin, with the single-seats with both an aisle and a window.
There is an optional buffet type monument on this particular aircraft on the right side bulkhead. Again, not something we expect to see onboard many customer’s E2s.
What is impressive, practical, and is standard equipment are the enlarged overhead bins which allow for four standard roller-bags wheels first per bin.
The economy cabin is really where the action is. The E2 has long been a #PaxEx favorite for its 2 X 2 no middle seat economy cabin. For a long narrow-body, its 9 foot wide cabin, 18 inch wide seats, tall ceilings, and largish windows give this regional jet passenger appeal belying its RJ stature.
For demonstration purposes, the 100 Zodiac slimline economy seats are configured with multiple seat pitches from 29 inch high density such as those used by Wideroe and potentially LCCs to 34 inches for extra-legroom seating.
As with all slimline seats, they are firm but comfortable enough, particularly for the relatively short average two hour stage length of E-Jets. The slimline seat and literature pockets relocated to the top of the seatback provide extra room even with the narrow pitch.
LED mood lighting, a beautifully sculpted ceiling, abundant natural light, and fairly flat sidewalls help the noticeably stretched E195-E2 attenuate the long tube phenomena.
Ironically, regional jets like the A220 and E2, not only often have wider seats in comparison to their larger narrow-body fleetmates like the A320neo and 737MAX, but also buck the trend toward smaller SpaceFlex lavatories with two full sized, well appointed units.
Other details like the ample-sized galleys, master cabin control touch-screen system, and modest passenger service units (PSUs), attracted attention.
Pretty soon, we were buttoned up and pushed back out of the hangar – which is a unique experience. And just like that, our feline flight E2 clawed itself to the threshold of FLL’s newly re-opened North Runway 10R.
The two Pratt & Whitney PW1900Gs begin their signature quiet spool-up with a small whine. With parking break released and after a very short roll, we achieve Vr and our very light E2 quickly and softly climbs for the skies.
Embraer’s cabin crew provided a lovely service on our 30 minute flight with an appropriate serving of Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread) decorated with American and Brazilian flags. But where were the Caipirinhas?
En route, I was taken by the serenity of the cabin where we can hear conversations a few rows behind us. There really wasn’t a bad seat in the house.
The E2 is designed with connectivity from the get go (as opposed to GoGo). The internal WiFi network wasn’t connected to the ground but there were a few movies available for streaming and a moving map.
Our special destination: The 15,000 foot runway used formerly for the Space Shuttle Landing at Kennedy Space Center (TTS). It’s not everyday you see a mock Space Shuttle, T-38s, rocket launch pads, and the voluminous Vehicle Assembly Building from the ground on a commercial aircraft.
Journalist Howard Slutsken, a writer for APEX, luckily drew the landing onto Runway 15 once used for Shuttle Landings at KSC – one of the longest runways in the world. At 15,000 feet length, we didn’t taxi to the threshold, but began our take-off roll a third of the way down the asphalt.
We touched down with the gentlest of landings and over to a bus for a brief tour and lunch with an astronaut at the Kennedy Space Center Apollo Exhibit.
The flight deck was left open with David Parker Brown of Airline Reporter riding jump-seat on the flight deck. He scored the take-off at our special destination.
And then it was back in the air again with this magnificent view of the VAB and launch pads.
I was quite happy with third prize: riding jump-seat back to my home airport of Ft. Lauderdale Airport. The pilots were already into approach, so we didn’t have much time to talk but clearly they were proud of the E2 that they had flown around the world.
They enthusiastically remarked how stable, docile, yet powerful the aircraft was. The extended range and lower fuel burn had afforded the crew their longest leg of the tour: a 3,100 nm seven and a 20 minutes flight from Lisbon, Portugal across the Atlantic to Martinique. The next day would take them all the way to Santiago, Chile via a tech stop in Bolivia.
The weather was picture perfect so the workload seemed effortless with the pilots snapping photos and checking the GoPros. With flaps deployed, gear lowered, and reverse thrust deployed after just 41 minutes aloft, we had arrived gently back at Ft Lauderdale with a textbook touch-down on Runway 10L.
The moving moving airport map came in quite handy in guiding us back across the airfield to the Embraer hangar. After a few holds for traffic, we our mission was complete, the GTFs were powered down, checklists completed with ACARS having the last word on our tangle Embraer’s E195-E2 Tech Lion – an impressive beast indeed.