May 24, 2016: Embraer’s E190-E2 had its first flight yesterday, several months ahead of the internal schedule (original plan was September) making it the only new airplane program in recent history to be significantly ahead. Boeing’s 737 MAX was on time or a day or two early for its first flight.
The E2 is Embraer’s entry into the next phase of the E-Jet development, It’s powered by the Pratt & Whitney GTF engine. The airplane has new wings, new empennage, enclosed main gear, a digital Fly-By-Wire (FBW) and other improvement over what is now called the E1.
The flight was remarkably productive as the crew could fly the test aircraft’s envelope to M 0.82 and 41,000 ft, which is the aircraft’s max speed/altitude. The crew also flew the FBW in Normal mode (includes augmentations and protections) after having started in Direct mode, a more normal mode for a first flight.
What was achieved was far more than what is usual in a first flight. It shows a high confidence in the aerodynamic and structural design of the aircraft and the maturity of the FBW. The concern when testing higher speeds/altitudes is the flutter risk for the new wing and empennage, a very dangerous aerodynamic/structural oscillation that can destroy the parts. Embraer must have advanced its flight test technology as well to clear the flutter envelope in real time during the flight.
Paulo Cesar Silva, the CEO of Embraer Commercial, told us that the E2 is “100% on time and 100% on budget” during our interview for our column at Forbes on-line in which he characterized Bombardier as a “government-owned” company.
The E190-E2 is scheduled to enter service in the first half of 2018. The larger E195-E2 follows by a year and the smaller E175-E2 a year after that.
It’s now five days since Egyptair flight 804 disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea. Searchers haven’t located either the main wreckage or the black boxes. There are 25 days left in the guaranteed performance of the box pingers. Egyptian authorities now refute Greek officials who said the flight made a 90 degree turn to the left and a 360 degree turn to the right as it descended from 37,000 ft to 10,000 before disappearing from tracking.
This is more evidence about why real-time flight data tracking is needed.
VietJet orders MAX 200
In the first order for the 737 MAX 200 since Ryanair launched this high-density version of the MAX 8 in September 2014, VietJet ordered 100 of the airplanes. This makes two customers and 200 orders.
The order is an important one for the MAX 200, but this model has a long way to go for general acceptance in the industry. Lessors want a broad customer base before they are interested in an aircraft. Still, this is an important boost for this sub-type.