Last week we were in Sao do Campos, Brazil, for the delivery ceremony of the first Embraer E190-E2 to Norwegian airline Wideroe.
Not content with that, we flew to Aberdeen, Scotland, a week later, in order to be also present on the last leg of the delivery flight to Bergen.
If our Brazilian foray provided us a trove of interesting details about the status of the E2 programme and its many achievements, the trip to Norway was an excellent chance to try the product first hand and get an impression of how it feels like to fly on it.
To be fair, this was not a “normal” flight.
From the departure from Aberdeen at the sound of bagpipes to the high-level managerial team from, both Embraer and Wideroe, that made a large part of the passage, and the sparkling wine being served throughout the flight, the atmosphere was clearly festive.
(To get the “normal” passenger experience you would need to wait to April 24th, as this is the date when Wideroe has scheduled the E2’s first revenue service, between Bergen and Tromso, in the far North of Norway)
If I had to summarize my first impression of the E190-E2 in just one word, that would be, simply, quietness.
This seemed to be the consensus among those onboard. Although this is not, by any means, the result of a scientific survey, quietness ranked consistently on top of every comment we heard during the flight and later at the welcome party.
When it comes to the in-flight experience, the low levels of noise are obviously a massive plus and, although the 29-inch seat pitch is nothing to write home about, our overall impression was very positive.
The large capacity of the overhead bins, the availability of electricity sockets at every seat to recharge your electronic devices and, of course, the E-Jet traditional two-abreast layout, all add up to the experience.
“This is the right aircraft for the right market,” said Stein Nilsen, Wideroe’s CEO at the press conference that followed our arrival in Bergen. The airline’s manager was dismissing this was the notion that Wideroe competes head-on with SAS and Norwegian. “You don’t buy a regional jet to compete with the 189 seat aircraft, we are developing our own niche. The E2 will help us strengthen a unique route network that we have developed over decades”.
He also expressed his confidence in the E190-E2 reliability, particularly in what relates to operations in the cold, mountainous geography of Norway. “We think the E2 is a very mature platform” he highlighted.
Interestingly Wideroe’s managers also hinted that the airline may be interested in other versions of the E2 as soon as the type has proven itself under real high frequency scheduled operations.
So far, the E190-E2 has delivered.
An anecdote that, nevertheless, may be indicative of the E2 performance: the aircraft did not need any refueling in Aberdeen to make it to Bergen after the long leg from the Canary Islands. And, yes, it was not a fully loaded flight, but still, it seems that the E2 is over-delivering on quite a few fronts.
It looks as if the E2 has many great things in store for us as the programme picks up speed.