We marvel at the engineering and technology innovations OEMs incorporate into their new products—and expect those innovations to drive significant reliability and performance improvements.
I recently saw this process in action at Embraer as it works toward introducing three new E-Jets simultaneously.
Embraer plans to roll out the E190-E2, the first of a second generation of E-Jets, on Feb. 25 at its headquarters in Brazil. The other two second-generation E-Jets (hence, E2 designation), the E195-E2 and E175-E2, will follow. All three are on schedule to enter service in 2018-20.
While talking to engineers at Embraer, I was struck by their dedication and enthusiasm—partly due to the creation of new aircraft, but also because of the continuous improvements incorporated into the products to enhance performance, entry into service, life-cycle costs, maturity and reliability.
“Maturity is a key item,” says Luis Carlos Affonso, senior vice president and COO, Embraer Commercial Aviation. “So even though the E2 is the next program after the E1, in between we have developed four new platforms—Phenom 100, Phenom 300, Legacy 500 and KC-390. And with each of these programs we’ve improved our maturity development—such as the fly by wire.”
Based on improvements from the Legacy 500 business jet and KC-390 military transport, the E2 family will benefit from the fourth-generation fly-by-wire system, which includes more functionality and a broader Embraer work scope than previous versions. In addition, the central maintenance computer gains functionality by taking troubleshooting down to the line replaceable unit to isolate malfunctions easier, according to Humberto Pereira, Embraer’s vice president of engineering and technology. Affonso notes that the E2 “also will gain a more capable health monitoring system.”
Johann Bourdais, vice president-services and support, Embraer Commercial Aviation, thinks Embraer has outlined clearer obligations for the E2 suppliers than the E1. But customers don’t want to wait for the next generation to see the improvements. “We’re using what we’ve learned [from] the E2 to improve the E1—so it’s a double positive,” he says.
Embraer not only is increasing the E2 aircraft performance but also its life-cycle costs. For example, to help maintain corrosion protection that was sometimes inadvertently stripped during heavy checks on E1 aircraft, E2s feature titanium caps that are heavier and more expensive. “We believe they will pay off over the life cycle of the airplane,” says Affonso.
Embraer expects to deliver up to 25% lower maintenance costs for the E2s compared to current-generation E-Jets. “By 2020, we want to be the benchmark for customer service,” Bourdais told me in September. “We strongly believe we can do this.”
With advances such as the E2 is making—and rolling in the greater volume of data and operating parameters to Embraer’s Ahead-PRO health analysis and diagnosis system—the industry should be watching.
In the meantime, see how airlines rank Embraer and other airframe OEMs in a new product support survey. Aviation Week’s Air Transport World queried airlines and found that Boeing, Airbus and Embraer scored the top three spots in best overall aftermarket support. To see ratings for specific service categories, turn to page MRO17.