Embraer is set to establish a passenger-to-freighter conversion line in China for its E1-jets, having signed a Letter of Agreement with Lanzhou Aviation Industry Development. The Chinese company wants to convert twenty E190s or E195s into full freighters. Embraer lands Chinese freighter conversion agreement.
The preliminary agreement was announced on Wednesday at the Paris Airshow during a press conference of Embraer Services and Support. The business unit’s CEO, Johann Bordais, didn’t specify the number of different E1-version that Lanzhou wants to covert.
Bordais said that the first few aircraft will be converted at Embraer in Sao Jose dos Campos, where conversion of the first E190F is currently underway. At some point, the conversion work will be transferred to China, but Embraer shared no details if it will do this on its own or partner with one of the many Chinese conversion specialists that also do Boeing and Airbus passenger to freighters.
Embraer says in a press statement that “the cooperation will serve as an initial starting point for both companies to leverage their strengths, jointly promote the development of Lanzhou’s air transportation industry, and boost the economy around the airport.”
Embraer officially launched the E1-freighter program in February 2022, having announced at the 2021 Dubai Airshow that it was preparing the program. Lessor Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) became the launch customer in May 2022 and said at the Farnborough Airshow that it had placed two E190Fs with Astral Aviation in Kenya. Embraer confirmed it has seriously looked at launching a freighter version of the E2-family but with so many relatively young E1s out there it is making more sense to go for a converted freighter that has lower operating costs compared to an all-new aircraft.
Keen on China
The Brazilian OEM says in the latest Market Outlook that it foresees a market for 600 medium-sized freighters, which fit in between the turboprops and narrowbodies. With some 100 E1-jets in service in China, Embraer sees good opportunities for small converted freighters in the country.
“The opportunity in China had a significant influence during the decision-making process of the launch of our P2F program. It is a market with increasing demand for cargo aircraft to accommodate the tremendous growth of E-commerce trade and the consequent evolution of the logistics industry,” says Arjan Meijer, President and CEO of Commercial Aviation.
“We’re confident in this booming market and always willing to support the sector’s further progress in cooperation with our Chinese partners. We welcome Lanzhou Group to be the region’s launch customer for Embraer’s P2F conversion, and we expect to bring new vitality to Chinese market with our E-Jets freighters.”
This is confirmed by Lanzhou President, Chen Zhiqiang: “We believe the ‘China speed’ in aviation logistics will be an important basis for the sustainable and efficient growth of the Chinese economy. We expect that the project, after it comes to fruition, will also help achieve high-quality economic development in Lanzhou, Gansu, and western regions of China.”
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News and until July 1 2023 in a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.