Brazil’s Embraer rolled out its first next-generation E-2 jet Thursday. The energy efficient jet is slightly smaller than the smallest of Boeing’s product line.
While E-2 jets won’t directly compete with Boeing’s 737 Max, the largest of the new series will carry only six fewer people than Boeing’s 737 Max 7, in two-class configuration.
On Thursday Embraer rolled out the mid-sized version of its new jet, the A190-E2, which seats 97 in two classes.
The Embraer jets are arguably the most successful of an array of new and smaller regional jets from China, Russia, Japan and Canada.
Embraer has 1,704 net orders for the E-Jet family overall, and 267 firm orders for the re-engined and more efficient E-2 series.
Until a decade ago Boeing had its own aircraft in this sector – the similarly sized Boeing 717. Boeing inherited that jet as part of the 1997 merger with McDonnell Douglas Corp., renamed it the 717, and continued building it for another nine years until stopping production in 2006.
Delta Air Lines continues to operate the 717 jets, including some that it flies out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
The Embraer E-2 jets include substantial increases in fuel economy over the 717 or even over the earlier Embraer models.
The just-rolled-out E-2 cuts 11 percent in fuel burn from its new Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines, another 3.5 percent from its longer wings, and another 1.5 percent from efficiencies introduced by a fly-by-wire control systems, according to a Flight Global story filed from Sao Paulo Thursday.
Back when Boeing was still building 717s, much of the regional market was switching to propeller-driven turboprops, which were far more efficient than the jet engines of the time. While slower, turboprops like the Canadian Bombardier Dash 8s, now used by Horizon Air, worked well for shorter regional routes.
But now a combination of far more efficient jet engines and lower fuel prices have made regional jets' engines competitive again.
Alaska Air Group is planning to order 30 new regional jets this year for Horizon, and the company will likely go with the E-2 model.
(Steve Wilhelm - Puget Sound Business Journal)