The ATR and Q400 are aging designs but remain the most cost-effective solution in a small market.
Twenty-year demand forecasts see a market of 2,500 airplanes or less. This, and low fuel prices, make it difficult to produce a new generation turboprop at a price airlines find attractive.
Embraer’s studies revolve around a two-member family of 70 and 90 seats. Pratt & Whitney and GE Aviation have been developing a new generation engine for years.
But Slattery’s reference to a hybrid engine throws a new wrinkle into the studies.
Electrically powered aircraft have gained a lot of attention in recent years. Canada’s Harbour Airlines contracted to install electric motors on its small seaplane fleet for short haul operations.
But applying electric propulsion to larger transports is a much more challenging problem. Batteries are heavy and endurance is low. Lifting power is limited and the prospect of thermal runaway fires remains a concern.
Nevertheless, hybrid technology may be more promising.
Slattery said Embraer hasn’t closed the business case for developing a new turboprop.
“We continue to work out if the market has a business case,” he said. “We’re not there today.” There’s continued interest in the leadership in pursuing studies, he added.
Slattery said there won’t be a program launch at the Paris Air Show and “we are nowhere close to launching a new program.”
Last week, Embraer announced that the name of the new joint venture with Boeing will be Boeing Brasil-Commercial. A name for the JV for the defense unit hasn’t been announced yet.
Slattery said the Embraer name doesn’t have the global brand recognition he’d like. Boeing, clearly, is a recognized global brand.
But rebranding the E-Jet hasn’t been decided yet, he said. The process to make this decision has only begun.