Embraer selects PW GTF for E-Jet RE; concept clarity comes at last

It’s official: Embraer selected the PW GTF to re-engine the E-175, E-190 and E-195.

In doing so, it looks like the E-170 will be allowed to wither on the vine.

This is a huge win for PW and setbacks for Rolls-Royce, which sorely wanted to win the E-Jet RE for its Advance 2 RR development; and for GE, the incumbent supplier of the CF34 and which was developing the Next Generation variant for the E-Jet.

EMB EJet RE

It’s yet another validation for the GTF. Versions of this engine will power the Mitsubishi MRJ, the Bombardier CSeries, the Irkut MS-21, the Airbus A320neo family and now the E-Jet RE.

It’s a huge comeback for PW, which made a major strategic error in not competing to power the Boeing 737 300/400/500. Boeing continues to use the GE/CFM LEAP engine as its sole-source supply for the 737 MAX, though Boeing seriously evaluated the GTF as well.

Below is EMB’s press release:

Embraer Selects Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower Engines for Second Generation of E-Jets

São José dos Campos, January 8, 2013 – Embraer SA (NYSE: ERJ; BM&FBOVESPA: EMBR3) announced today that Pratt & Whitney´s PurePower® Geared TurbofanTM engines have been selected for its future, second generation of E-Jets, with entry into service planned for 2018. The decision is an important milestone in the program, which is expected to be officially launched later this year.

The new engines – the PW1700G and PW1900G – range in thrust from 15,000 to 22,000 pounds. In combination with new aerodynamically advanced wings, state-of-the-art full fly-by-wire flight controls and other systems evolutions, they will result in double digit improvements in fuel burn, maintenance costs, emissions and external noise.

“We are very happy to expand our partnership with Pratt & Whitney, keeping the E-Jets family as the best solution for our customers, today and in the future”, said Frederico Fleury Curado, President & CEO of Embraer. “The PurePower GTF engines are a great fit to the next generation of our E-Jets and we look forward to another long lasting and successful program with Pratt & Whitney”.

“We are proud that Embraer has recognized the unmatched value of the PurePower engine, and we are committed to supporting a successful launch of the new E-Jet aircraft family,” said Pratt & Whitney President David Hess. “To date, Pratt & Whitney has completed more than 4,200 hours and 12,400 cycles of full engine testing for the PurePower engine family, demonstrating the benefits and reliability of the engine architecture.” Pratt & Whitney is a division of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).

The second generation of E-Jets will be a significant step in Embraer´s commitment to continuously invest in this line of commercial jets, complementing a series of ongoing improvements currently being implemented in the existing family, with great benefits to its customers. Embraer´s objective is to offer the best product and maintain its leadership in the 70 to 120 seat market.

Embraer facing slack years: JP Morgan

Update: Even as we posted this, Jon Ostrower Tweeted PW has been selected to re-engine the E-Jet. We’re trying to confirm.

Embraer faces declining deliveries this year and next due to declining orders and a declining backlog, reports JP Morgan in a research note issued January 8.

JP Morgan writes:

We are downgrading Embraer…because we believe the stock does not fully account for a decline in commercial deliveries. We are lowering our 2014 E-Jet delivery estimate to 60 from 80, and we see potential for both upside and downside to this estimate.

  • We forecast 85 E-Jet deliveries in 2013 and 60 in 2014, down from 105 in 2012. Our 2013 outlook is based on our view that the company has filled ~75 slots this year, reinforced by indications from management, and the trickle of orders since then. Visibility into 2014 volume is much lower. We estimate that only 21 slots are filled (using data from Ascend), and even if we allow for some reshuffling from other years, Embraer still has a decent number of orders to gather just to reach our estimate. Embraer has taken ~306 E-Jet orders the past five years, or 61/year on average, and our delivery estimates for 2014 and beyond are in line with this.
  • E-Jet backlog was likely down to ~162 aircraft at year end. This represents only 1.5x 2012 deliveries vs an average of 3.2x historically. The backlog is only 1.9x our 2013 delivery estimate of 85 E-Jets, indicating that without an order pickup, the lower rates we are assuming will not be sustainable. The estimated E-Jet backlog in units is down ~65% from its 1Q08 peak of 466 and has declined in 15 of the 19 subsequent quarters.
  • Opportunities still lie in the US. Embraer does have opportunities to rebuild the backlog, the most prominent of which are in the US. Last year, management indicated it would compete for 300-500 US replacement orders in the coming years. Embraer failed to capture the first of these as Delta ordered from Bombardier, but there are other opportunities, such as a potential order from American for up to 200 76-seaters. This order could take place in the coming months if American exits bankruptcy independently, but a merger with US Airways (as our airline analyst Jamie Baker believes is likely) could push this out to 2014. We expect a resolution on the merger question in the coming weeks. Either way, Bombardier will surely provide stiff competition, and we see it as at least a mild favorite. Embraer has also pegged a ~150 aircraft opportunity from United. Large US orders would clearly benefit Embraer but even with 20-30 deliveries into the US annually, production should remain below last year’s 100+.

Our take:

We think EMB has seen a drop in orders because, at the end of 2011, officials announced they will re-engine the E-Jet. But throughout 2012, the market has waited for information about what the E-Jet RE will look like. The engine hasn’t been selected yet, as far as we know. A new wing is assumed, as are upgrades to the systems–which we hear will be borrowed from the KC-390 military aircraft.

As a result of the ambiguity, we think customers have been holding off ordering aircraft.

Furthermore, Bombardier has won some key competitions: Garuda and Delta Air Lines, where the CRJ proved to have lower operating costs and pricing considerations also favored BBD. The E-Jet is superior in passenger comfort to the CRJ, but for cost-driven airlines who don’t really care about passenger comfort, the lower operating costs of the CRJ may prove the winning combination with a more aggressive pricing and deal from BBD.

Embraer needs to make its RE decisions soon to regain momentum.

Perspective on 787 Boston incident

Update: Wall Street Journal reporting United Airlines found mis-wired battery following inspections in wake of JAL 787 fire.

Update, 1215 PM PT: Boeing issued this statement regarding the fire incident:

“Regarding yesterday’s event onboard a Japan Airlines (JAL) 787 at Boston Logan Airport, we are working closely with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), our customer and other government agencies. JAL has reported that smoke detected while a 787 was on the ground after passengers disembarked and during cleaning was traced to the battery used to start the auxiliary power unit (APU).

“As is standard practice within the industry, it would be premature to discuss additional details at this stage as the investigation is ongoing. However, nothing that we’ve seen in this case indicates a relationship to any previous 787 power system events, which involved power panel faults elsewhere in the aft electrical equipment bay. Information about the prior events has been shared with the NTSB and they are aware of the details.

“Boeing is cooperating with the NTSB in the investigation of this incident. Before providing more detail, we will give our technical teams the time they need to do a thorough job and ensure we are dealing with facts not speculation.”

Original Post:

We’ve been inundated with calls from media asking what we think about the small fire and battery explosion on the JAL Boeing 787 parked at Boston. A couple of questions were common:

  1. What does this mean for the 787?
  2. Would you fly it?
  3. Is there a problem with the airplane?
  4. Are problems like this common with new airplanes?

Before addressing these specific issues, we want to say: use caution in drawing any conclusions. There is much more we don’t know than what we do know.

We don’t know:

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