Embraer's Regional-Jet Redo Moves Ahead as 2016 Public Debut Set

  • Rollout of E2 version of E190 model is scheduled for February
  • Planemaker sees maiden flight coming in year's second half

Embraer SA is nearing a milestone in its push to update the regional-jet family that vaulted the Brazilian planemaker into global prominence two decades ago.

The rollout of the upgraded version of the E190 jetliner, known as the E190-E2, has been set for late February, according to Embraer, which plans a formal announcement of the schedule on Wednesday. The first flight of the plane is projected to be in next year’s second half, Embraer said by e-mail, ahead of a planned commercial debut in 2018.

Setting the timetable for the plane’s public debut signals Embraer’s progress in overhauling the E-jet lineup with new wings, engines and landing gear. Airlines typically use smaller E-Jet models, such as the 76-seat E175, to ferry travelers to and from hub airports while deploying the 100-seaters, such as the E190, on longer routes.

“This is a company that launches the right products and executes well on them,” said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of consultant Teal Group in Fairfax, Virginia.

Embraer’s chief competitor in the regional-jet market is Bombardier Inc., which has been de-emphasizing those planes in favor of developing the larger C Series to compete with single-aisle jets made by Boeing Co. and Airbus Group SE. Embraer’s regional-jet backlog totaled 530 planes at the end of last quarter, including 267 E2 aircraft, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Bombardier’s tally for its CRJ aircraft stood at 70.

Isabelle Gauthier, a spokeswoman for Montreal-based Bombardier, said the company had no comment.

Challenging Schedules

The E190-E2 will be the first of the updated Embraer planes to enter commercial service, to be followed later by larger and smaller versions. Staying on schedule in the aerospace industry can be a challenge: Bombardier is running late with the C Series, Boeing faced delays on its new 787 Dreamliner and the 747-8, and Japan’s Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. has delayed the initial delivery of its MRJ90 regional aircraft three times.

Embraer also showcased its execution ability with the first delivery of the Legacy 450 business jet on Monday. The Sao Jose dos Campos-based planemaker will meet its forecast target for handing over 115 to 130 corporate aircraft this year, said Marco Tulio Pellegrini, who runs Embraer’s executive-jets unit.

The company’s market share expanded about 20 percent annually on average since 2001, when the company released its first executive jet, and will continue growing at the same rate, Pellegrini said in an interview in Sao Paulo.

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