Embraer continues and refines its strategy at the low-end of 100-149 seat sector

While Airbus and Boeing slug it out in the competition for the duopoly and Bombardier struggles to gain respect as an emerging mainline jetliner producer, Embraer continues and refines its strategy in the smaller-end of the jet market with its E-Jets, E-Jet “Plus” (our term) and the E-Jet E-2.

Source: Embraer, Reprinted with permission.

Source: Embraer, Reprinted with permission.

Embraer is broadening its offering from a maximum of 122 seats to a maximum of 132 and dropping its low-end E-170 from future variants. This brings the EMB family to 90-132 seats, following the decision to undertake an extreme makeover of the current E-175/190/195 line by adapting the Pratt & Whitney P1000 Geared Turbo Fan engine to a new wing design and upgrading a variety of systems in the E-Jet E2.

New Features

 Source: Embraer. Reprinted with permission.

The current jet is now called the E1. With an entry-into-service for the E2 slated for 2018, Embraer is adding some Performance Improvement Packages (PIPs) to the E1 to reduce fuel consumption and to try and match the economics of the lighter weight Bombardier CRJs.

Embraer Strategy

Bombardier invented the regional jet market with the CRJ, an evolution of the Challenger business jet. Embraer followed with its ERJ, a plane based on its successful Brasilia turbo prop. Embraer then revolutionized the regional jet approach when the company designed a clean-sheet airplane, the E-Jet, with 2×2 seating with 18.5 inch seats and larger overhead bins than on the smaller, cramped CRJs and ERJs. The comfort level and passenger space exceeded the ubiquitous Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s and far surpassed the regional jets.

Embraer positioned the E-Jets not as regional jets but as mainline airplanes that could “right size” the airplane for the market, coming in smaller than the Airbus and Boeing products. The E-Jets also had much shorter ranges, 1,800-2,200 miles, capable of one-stop, trans-con US routings but well within the more common ranges of less than 1,000 miles.

The E-Jets entered service in 2004 and have since sold more than 1,000. Embraer discontinued the ERJ and Bombardier soon found its CRJ running a poor second in sales to the more comfortable E-Jets. Those airlines more concerned with the CRJ’s lower economics than the E-Jet’s roomy cabins still bought the CRJ, but Bombardier struggled to keep up.

After Bombardier developed the CSeries, receiving a launch order in 2009 from the Lufthansa Group on behalf of Swiss Airlines, followed by an order from Airbus operator Republic Airways Holdings, Airbus launched the A320neo family. Boeing eventually followed suit.

This left Embraer in the position of having an out-classed E-Jet that entered service only five years previously. Rather than take the risk and the expense of designing an entirely new jet, EMB opted for an extreme makeover in the form of the E2. With an EIS projected for the first half of 2018, EMB will be considerably behind Bombardier’s CSeries, one year ahead of Boeing’s 737-7 MAX and one year behind the rescheduled A319neo.

The E2 is a major improvement over the E1, reducing fuel burn by 16%-23% depending on the sub-type.

Source: Embraer. Reprinted with permission.

Source: Embraer. Reprinted with permission.

 Embraer is enhancing the E1 to improve economies as an interim step. EMB told us:

“On the E175-E1 Embraer is introducing an improvement package that results in a 5% reduction in fuel burn. The package is composed mainly by a new wingtip and several other minor aerodynamic changes such as wheel caps and APU air inlet improvements. On the maintenance side, intervals are being extended to 7,500 flight hours compared to 6,000 flight hours of the competition. The result is a 4% better fuel burn and 2% lower COC per trip or per seat (same seat count) against the CRJ900.” Embraer continues:

“The other members of the E-Jets E1 are also receiving fuel burn improvements but not the wingtip, so the reduction is between 1% and 2% depending on the aircraft model. The longer maintenance intervals are applicable to all E-Jets members equally.”

E-Jet E2 vs CSeries

  • Flight Global has a short analysis of the progress of the CSeries flight test program (free registration required).
  • An amusing comparison of the CS-100 vs the Airbus A320 may be found here.

Embraer and Bombardier are the two principal players in the 100-149 seat sector. Airbus and Boeing are focusing on the larger, more lucrative 150-220 seat sector. Their respective offerings do not compete on economics with either the CSeries or the E-Jet E2, and their sales within the small-end sector are minimal. To be sure, the 100-149 seat sector has become a niche, but it is a niche Embraer and Bombardier can fill much better than the Big Two.

Here are the announced entry-into-service (EIS) dates for the CSeries and E-Jet E2. Based on CSeries customer comments and those by Bombardier’s chief executive officer, we believe there will be an additional 6-9 month delay to EIS. The original EIS was planned for December 2013. Bombardier did not return calls or emails seeking information, so we’re sticking with out estimate.


How do the Embraer and Bombardier airplanes compare?

The E-Jet is a four abreast design whereas the CSeries seats people five abreast. This stems from their design centers. The E-Jet has an historical design center of 70-110 seats and the CSeries aiming for 100-150 seats. Dimensionally this means E-Jet E2 is longer than the equivalent seated CSeries since it needs more rows to seat the same number of passengers. This design philosophy difference also carries through to the wing (the E2 being 10% smaller than the CSeries wing) and as we shall see to aircraft performance.

Sources: Bombardier, Embraer. Chart by Leeham Co EU.

Sources: Bombardier, Embraer. Chart by Leeham Co EU.

Sources: Bombardier, Embraer, Leeham Co EU.

  • Only the CSeries is flying, currently in test flights, and the economics analysis has yet to be done. All other models, re-engined aircraft all, are in early production or still in design. All analyses by the OEMs and by Leeham Co EU, are based on the best available information and best analysis available without actual operating data.

The E2 carries fewer passengers than the CSeries, weighs less and has a smaller payload, based on OEM specifications. This translates to lower landing fees and generally lower operating costs, according to Leeham Co EU’s analysis.

EMB BBD SpecsWe adjusted the CSeries seating to 31 inch pitch from Bombardier’s public depiction of 32 inches, which adds one row of seating. The industry trend toward 31 inches using slim line seats makes this adjustment logical. It also presents an apples-to-apples comparison with the E-Jet E2; EMB uses 31 inches in its public depictions of the E-Jet E2 capacities. We also configured the A319neo and 737-7MAX with 31inch pitch seating for our fuel burn analysis.  Consequently we also adjusted the CSeries, A319neo and 737-7MAX weights to reflect the slim line seating.

Embraer provided us with its analysis of the E-Jet E2 economics vs the competition, using two-class configuration comparisons. Embraer’s conclusions are:

Source: Embraer. Leeham Co. chart.

Source: Embraer. Leeham Co. chart.

Embraer’s provided this as the basis for its analysis:

“For the comparison with the CSeries we will concentrate on the E190/195-E2 against the CS100 as the CS300 is in an upper segment competing directly with the A319 and 737-700. The E190-E2 is approximately 10% smaller than the CS100 and it was positioned to remain as the only true 100-seater available in the market. It has 6.5% lower COC per trip and 3.5 higher COC per seat against CS100.

“Both airplanes use the same engine but the E190-E2 is being designed with more focus on operating cost than on takeoff performance and range as the CSeries. The result is that E190-E2 wing and empennages are smaller resulting in less drag, less weight and better fuel burn. The E190-E2 also fits doors covering the landing gear in-flight which also contributes to reduce drag and improve fuel burn.

“All in, the E190-E2 has a 8% advantage in fuel burn against CS100. In maintenance, lessons learned from over 1,000 airplanes in-service of the first E-Jets generation provides a unique database for reducing costs and improving reliability for the E2. Also contributing to a better maintenance cost is the fact that the maximum capacity of the E-Jets E2 is around 140 passengers while CS100 systems had to be designed for the CS300 maximum capacity, which is 160 passengers.

“The E195-E2 is a simple stretch of the E190-E2 (same wing and engine) with 20% higher capacity. It has 9% higher fuel burn and 6.5% higher COC per trip than the E190-E2. Against the CS100 it has 1% higher fuel burn per trip but 9% better fuel burn per seat. In COC both airplanes have practically the same cost per trip but the E195-E2 has 10% lower cost/seat.”

In our analysis, undertaken by our European affiliate, we have results which differ more or less from Embraer’s results depending on applied load factor.

For a calculation with all seats filled (ie 100% load factor) the E-190-E2 has 101% of CS100 trip fuel costs and 108% seat costs. Reduce that to a more realistic 70% load factor with both aircraft transporting 80 passengers and the difference narrows to E190-E2 being within 1% for both trip and seat fuel costs. Clearly, when the payload falls into the sub-100 passenger range the E-Jet comes into its design space and matches both trip and seat fuel costs versus the larger CS100. The CSeries is then too lightly loaded and cannot use its advanced composite wing to advantage.

Embraer prefers to compare the E-195-E2 against the CS100. We have pitched it against the CS300, A319neo and 737-7 MAX, all with the same 31 inch single class seating. They then seat 132, 140, 144 and 144 passengers in our comparison. Once again the E-Jet shows the same performance characteristics versus the CS300. At 100% load factor, it gains 1% on trip fuel costs but loses 5% on seat costs. Change the load factor to the more typical 70%, which we have taken as 100 passengers for all, and the E-Jet is matching the trip and seat fuel costs of the CS300. The 195-E2 equals and the CS300 undercuts with 5% the A319neo and 737-7 MAX on 100% load factor seat fuel costs; both beat the trip cost by 10%. When the load factor reduces to 70% the higher efficiencies are with the smaller aircraft both for trip (by about 10%) and seat (about 7%).

Here is the detailed data; our assumptions are noted in the graphs:

Source: Analysis by Leeham Co EU

Source: Analysis by Leeham Co EU

Fuel costs per Aircraft mile and Seat mile based on passengers + bags payload (no cargo) and 100% load factor. Source: Leeham Co EU.

Source: Analysis by Leeham Co EU

Source: Analysis by Leeham Co EU

Fuel costs per Aircraft mile and Seat mile based on passengers + bags and 70% load  factor, no cargo. Source: Leeham Co. EU.

Differing philosophies

Bombardier and Embraer approached their new airplane projects differently. Bombardier went with a clean-sheet design and Embraer chose the derivative route. Bombardier claims its CSeries is an optimized design for the 100-149 seat sector while the E-190/195 and E-195-E2 are multiple stretches of the basic E-170/175 series, with new wings and ultimately new engines.

Bombardier also added enhanced air field performance into its design, as EMB noted above. The CSeries can operate from shorter runways and more challenging airports, such as London City Airport and potentially from Toronto Billy Bishop Airport, in ways the E-Jets cannot.

Our analysis shows that this works well for the segment that Embraer addresses, when the aircraft meets the real world of fluctuating passenger loads, which often hovers around or dips below 100 passengers. The E-Jet E2s operating economics matches the more advanced CSeries for normal load factors. When more passengers or cargo are transported over longer distances, the CSeries comes into its design window and leaves both the E-Jets behind in efficiency. They both are more economical then the A319neo and 737-7MAX for this segment of the market. CSeries provides more field performance, range and cargo capabilities than the E-Jet E2.

By Leeham Co and Leeham Co EU.

19 Comments on “Embraer continues and refines its strategy at the low-end of 100-149 seat sector

  1. Nice extyensive update fom last years discussion. The “E180-190-200” portfolio as predicted seems to be the right choice.

    I think the E195E2 will weigh significantly less then the CS100, maybe 8 metric tons? That is a lot. OEW proves a good indicator for DOC.

    BBD will have to fight a battle at two fronts, with Embraer and Airbus / Boeing on the other site. Looking at A319/737-700 commitments sofar, and said E195-CS100 OEW differences, up seems to best direction for BBD in the longer term. They admitted already by stretching the CS300. Once 300 CSeries are sold, I think CS500 launch will be near..

    Re field performance, I flew E170 jets from LCY and I saw a E190 too. So only a small niche for the CSeries left in that segment.

    • How do you get the E195 weighing 8 tons less then Cseries? They are using conventional construction (not even AlLi) and the series uses composite wings and AlLi fuse. Also the wider fuse cross section is stiffer and can be made lighter. The weight differences are quite small i think. I did some guessing with the sketchy avail info (38000 lbs max fuel for example) ad it no where near 8T. More like a few thousand lbs.

    • Boeing boosted Three Layers of Protection, 200.000 Engineering hours and extensive testing to convince the public, airlines and FAA.


      I Manufacturing Improvements
       Enhanced cell and battery build
       Enhanced production tests
      for cells and batteries

      II Design Enhancements
       Charger design improvements
       Tightened voltage range
       Battery design improvements

      III Enclosure System
       Added battery enclosure

      It seems the first two layers failed. On a small fleet within a year. The FAA approved everything and we shouldn’t even ask if they were under any pressure.

      Teething problems are normal for new aircraft, we have total confidence in the 787, (dispatch..) reliability for the 787 is as good as anything, airlines express full confidence.

      We are told what we want to hear and sing along. In Europe heads would roll.

      • “Boeing boosted Three Layers of Protection….
        …It seems the first two layers failed.”

        It’s too soon to jump to any conclusions on this, but it’s not the least bit surprising that you have. It could be that only one part of one of the layers failed, and not the first two. Problem is the public knows nothing about the manufacturing/inspection history of the one cell that failed, nor do we know the circumstances surrounding the failure.

        Fortunately, this failure seems like it was really mild. It’s likely that since the new battery system has more instrumentation, Boeing will get some good failure data from doing forensics on an intact, minimally damaged battery.

  2. Is there any clarity as to the nature of the incident i.e. cause of the overheating.

    One account I read blamed the “charging” connector and another said a cell “switch” was mistakenly open.

    In any event, is this a systemic problem or a “normal” preflight mistake that does not go to the heart of the battery design and system? It has been months between the last incident.

  3. Bombardier are in the same position Embraer was with the CRJ vs Ejet. The CSeries ulimately has cabin appeal – 5 abrest vs 4. That will be the deciding factor in the end besides the economics

    • What about drag? The E-Series fuselage has 30% less frontal surface compared to C-Series. How big is this factor in the fuel equation.

      • Given the same number of seats, the E2 will be 25% longer than the Cseries, so it will in turn increase drag. There is no free lunch …

      • What appeal?
        By a comfort metric, E-Jets have more width per seat.
        The comparison done here used the same seat pitch.

  4. There is no clear winner look at the charts by themselves. Customer needs (routes and load factors) together with fleet commonality (maintenance and crew training) should govern the success of each design. Presumably much customer input went into the clean sheet designs hence if done correctly these designs should be better.

  5. Remember you need to stretch the embraer 190 e2 with 120 seats airlines needs that demand

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