Within days of Airbus announcing the agreement with Bombardier for the C-series, Boeing & Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer announced that they are in talks for an agreement. This culminated weeks ago and resulted in re-naming of Embraer as Boeing Brasil – Commercial. While Airbus has had a seamless integration and pitch with the A220 gelling well within the Airbus family, Boeing & Embraer are a few steps behind.
While the A220 comes in two variants -100 and -300, the E2 family of Embraer comes in three, comprising the E175-E2, E190-E2 and E195-E2. Embraer announced the E2 program at Paris Air show in 2013 and the first aircraft was delivered in April 2018. While not a clean sheet design as the A220, the E2 family has its share of improvements over the E-jets.
The changes start with the Geared turbo fan (GTF) engine – same as the A220s, fly-by-wire controls, new wings and avionics and an upgraded cabin.
As the A220, the E2 family also grapples with lack of orders in Asia. The E2 has seen very less orders as compared to the A220, just a little over 150 orders and only a small percentage of that coming in from Air Astana of Kazakhstan, the only operator in Asia. There have seen a couple of orders from China (Tianjin Airlines).
What is also similar is that the reach or the increased reach in case of the E2.
Embraer in India
India has had its brush with Embraer. The very first time with Paramount – which many passengers still remember fondly and then with Air Costa which operated a couple of aircraft in dual class and others in mono class configuration. Unfortunately, both could not hold on. The mistake which both did? Holding on to their primary business areas of Madurai and Vijayawada respectively, rather than looking at the region holistically. Air Costa operated the dual class on short hops, making the business class even difficult to sell and coming at a time when the airline was promoting its economy class offering as close to business class due to its 2×2 configuration.
Currently, Star Air – based on Bengaluru operates the E145 and has two in its operational fleet. Hopefully, Embraer will be third time lucky in the country.
The increased range of Embraer also has little significance with the average stage length hovering around 1100 kilometers in India. But one needs to look at the ATR and Q400 network of the airlines to see how the one+ hour hops can be moved from the uncomfortable turboprops to comfortable Regional Jets.
With airlines already warming up to the idea of multi aircraft fleet, few by choice and few by force, one wonders on how many airlines have actually explored the idea of flying the smaller jets / E2.
The E190-E2 can fly to every airport in the network for most carriers in the country. However, in a country where differentiating between Airbus and Boeing is not a common phenomenon for the passengers, having a type which the airline can opt for over the turboprop may not result in high yielding traffic.
The curious case of GoAir entering Male and IndiGo suspending Bengaluru – Phuket flights can well be countered with the Embraer E2 being the preferred aircraft for the mission, at least till the market matures.
Embraer has been kind enough to provide range charts for the E190-E2 and E195-E2, specially for Network Thoughts.
If one looks closely, it offers an opportunity to open routes which currently do not clock 140-150 passengers, the minimum one would think off while starting a route with the A320. The route count gets a boost when one considers the circle range from Bengaluru.
I have been on the E190-E2 (and also the E190) and was lucky to have seen the features of the aircraft. I have always been impressed with the 2 – 2 seating, or rather the set of 2 seats. No wonder then I have time and again opted for A330s and A340s where ever and whenever possible. The comfort is unmatched without a middle seat.
With Boeing stuck in the mess with the B737 MAX8 and focus having shifted to NMA, one wonders how much focus Boeing can give to the E2. While that is one way of looking at it, the other way is that you have an assembly line raring to go and planes which aren’t flying – so is this the time to push the E2 with the operators as a stop gap arrangement and look at making it permanent?
With two failures in India, Embraer will have to really convince airlines in India and offer a deal which is too sweet to reject to make inroads in the country again. With Boeing backing the company now, the sales cycle might be simpler than before.
Note: Network Thoughts continues to research about the Regional Jet market. In the next one month, a detailed article will be published which will include a comparison of current networks of airlines in India from the point of view of Regional Jets.