Embraer’s E2 flight test program has been a rather quiet affair. The OEM announces milestones but there is scant third-party program tracking. Embraer reported that the flight test fleet accumulated more than 650 flight hours after its first flight in May 2016 only three months after rollout. The second prototype joined the fleet on July 8, followed by the third a month later. The program has been described as “on budget and on spec”. Embraer advised us today “total of flight hours of the fleet is 900+”.
The lack of test program news is a source of great interest to us. Other programs, like the A320neo, 787, A350 and even C Series attracted a lot of attention as they went through their flight test regimes. How come there is this eerie quiet from Brazil? Embraer also advised us “Embraer does not disclose the flight hours per aircraft. However, I can confirm that Embraer has five aircraft in the flight test campaign (4 E190-E2 and 1 E195-E2).” The tail numbers are PR-ZEY, PR-ZFU, PR-ZFV, PR-ZGQ and PR-ZIJ respectively.
So, we went digging of course. There is no data being provided by Embraer, so we turned to Flightradar24. The data from Flightradar24 came with this explanation: “Any gaps in From/To data will be down to our algorithms not being able to match the departure & arrival airports based on the level of ADS-B coverage in the particular flight area. At AQA, our ADS-B coverage starts and ends at approximately 3000m. If you wanted to attempt to match the flights manually, you could use the playback feature, however again in some cases the entire route would not be covered, prohibiting the full flight time from being recorded.”
This is what we found by pulling data on each the flight test program aircraft with flights dated through yesterday. The table shows the flight hours tracked by Flightradar24. Despite a picture of PR-ZIJ (E195-E2) flying there is no tracking information on this aircraft. The table shows months and year across the top for the tail numbers we found.
We cannot account for the discrepancy in hours from the OEM’s claim of 900+ compared to the 638 we can track. It may be that some of the tests are flown without the ADSB being picked up by Flightradar24 per their explanation. The following charts show the tracking data we have from Flightradar24.
The data in the left chart suggests that the first member of the fleet, PR-ZEY, has not performed much until recently. We have seen various odd hours by tail number in previous test regimes. But the long absence of the first aircraft is notable.
In the right-hand chart, we can see that at the current (verifiable) flight hour trend, the 2,500-hour mark won’t be reached until sometime in 2019. Embraer could rapidly add hours this year to still achieve EIS in 2018. But we are nearly halfway through 1017. Of course, if the OEM’s number of 900+ flight hours is verifiable then they are over 41% further along. But we cannot verify this.
To enable launch customer Wideroe to achieve EIS by the first half 2018 (assuming June), the program needs to generate 144 hours per month, based on the verifiable 638 flight hours. That does not look as easy as it sounds. The program averages 57.7 verifiable hours monthly to date from the data we have.
Using the 900+ flight hours from Embraer, the test fleet needs to generate 133 hours per month to get to 2,500 by June 2018. Can they do this? In April 2017 we see in the data we have, that the test fleet accumulated 122 hours. So it is doable, especially with five aircraft. Again, we cannot find any trackable flight hours for the E195-E2. Can four aircraft do this? Most probably. Airbus was able to build hours on its A320neo test fleet rapidly.
Now that we are tracking this, we will update readers regularly on the progress to see how Embraer is doing, to the degree we have visibility. Anyone living in the proximity of AQA would do many people a favor by requesting that Flightradar24 send them a free receiver.