With the recent first flight of the Embraer E2-190, it was an appropriate time to get update the progress of the E2 development program. We we fortunate to have an opportunity to speak with Luis Carlos Affonso, SVP – Operations and COO – Commercial at Embraer regarding the E2 program and its progress.
The company undertook what appeared to be a remarkable first flight – the E-190 E2 ticked a lot of boxes on that flight; maximum altitude, maximum speed and host of other items. In terms of first flight this may have been a unique activity. It certainly demonstrated remarkable confidence on the part of the company and its test crew.
- We began by asking Luis Carlos about his reaction to the first flight.
“We were very pleased that the first flight was able to complete 100% of the test cards successfully. This was the result of a strong and well proven development process at Embraer. The aircraft reached the ceiling of 41,000 feet, as well as VMO, maximum operating speed, retracted the landing gear and flaps multiple times, and engaged the fly-by-wire system in normal mode. We have never heard of another first flight that has achieved that. Although the E2 has commonality with the E1, there is a different wing, pylon, landing gear, empennage, new systems, as well as a different fly-by-wire system. This was a great achievement for a first flight.”
- How was Embraer was able to achieve so many objectives on the first flight of an aircraft, particularly since most new aircraft don’t achieve full speed or altitude on a first flight, and typically operate the fly-by-wire in a bypass, rather than normal mode?
“We are fortunate to have been developing many programs, if you consider our business units, the Legacy 450, the KC-390, and before that several other products, including the Phenom. We have developed a very robust and sound development process, incorporating many lessons learned, which we are applying to the E2 development. We have invested a lot into the requirements and definition phase, and have focused intensely on modeling and simulation, including the iron bird. Every system on the airplane has been tested multiple times on the ground, providing us the ability to be more aggressive in our initial flight test. Having been through new products in each of the last few years, we have an increasing level of confidence in our processes that enable us to bring new products to market on time and on budget.”
- The fly by wire system was built internally at Embraer. Does this provide a competitive advantage over others who have to outsource that capability?
“Yes, by being responsible for the flight control laws and code we expect to have greater agility during the airplane development and certification phases as well as to support our customers. And we can see real examples that this is working. For instance, the level of confidence over the maturity of the fly by wire system allowed us to operate the system in its normal mode already from the first flight. Our competitors took at least five months after first flight to fly in normal mode.”
- What are your current objectives for the E2 program?
“The objective of our improvements is to provide value to customers. On the E195-E2, there is an improvement of 24% in fuel efficiency over the E195. There is about a 20% maintenance cost reduction. The range of the E190 is going up and the range of the E195 is going up. The E2 family provides much more value to the customer. To achieve this, we needed significant changes. We designed a completely new wing – 5 meters longer from tip to tip – new engines, new pylons, new landing gears, new horizontal stabilizers, a new cabin air system to accommodate more passengers, new air cycle machine, new bleed system, and a new fly-by-wire system among other improvements. We can now say the E2 family is the most efficient family in the market from 70-130 plus seats. It is the most weight efficient and most fuel efficient family in the market. This is why we made these changes, while keeping commonality with the current family for our operators. The cockpit is an easy transition from the E1 to the E2 with only a 2 day transition course, and will be type rated for both E1 and E2. This is a huge cost savings for the airline.”
- Do you see entry into service to be accelerated, given the early success in the test program?
“The airplane is on schedule for the 1st half of 2018. If our development process ends a bit early, we will use the additional time to continue maturing the airplane to have even better reliability on EIS.”
- Will we see the E2-190 at Farnborough? (EMB reserved a “parking space” at FAB)
“We are considering it – if we are able to advance and continue without difficulties, it is possible that we might make it. But we have not yet made a decision to bring it to the show.”
- What has the reaction been from customers about the first flight?
“Our customers are excited, and feeling very good now that the airplane is flying. The interest in the airplane is increasing, and everybody is excited about the success of the first flight.”
Nevertheless, the C Series will do to the E2 what the original E-Jet did to the CRJ.
I have visited the company that makes the landing gear of the E2 here in Montreal Alta Precision last week and I had an hour interview with its CEO. Needless to say, as a supplier he is very happy with the actual schedule of the E2. My personal concern with the first flight of the E2 is the risk management, there good reason why OEM dont push aircraft at the limit of the enveloppe. Maybe Embraer is right about the quality of the aircraft it self, but good trick management would have dictated to be more progressive in testing the limit of the E2.