Pontifications: Engines drive timing of new Embraer TPNG

The first report appeared Oct. 18, 2021.

By Scott Hamilton

Oct. 25, 2021, © Leeham News: Embraer appears marching toward launching a new turboprop aircraft next year with a targeted 2027 entry into service.

The timing will be determined by the engine. Pratt & Whitney, GE Aviation and Rolls-Royce have development programs. PW and GE are farthest along. PW is thought to have the best chance of winning Embraer’s business. (Pratt & Whitney supplies the engines for the E2 jet. GE supplied the engines for the E1.)

In an interview at the IATA AGM Oct. 3-5 in Boston, Arjan Meijer, the president of Embraer Commercial Aviation, said the competition remains open today.

Which engine is best?

It’s a little early to point to a leading contender, Meijer said. EMB remains in talks with each. “There’s no one that we have ruled out at this point. They all have a different idea of what they could offer, and they all have a slightly different timeline. We’re currently saying we launch next year and we have been saying we’re entering into services in 2027. That’s a little bit depending on the power plant selection that we do, but they’re all very interested to get on the next TP.”


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The entire program also depends on partnering with another to provide financing, engineering or production support, or a combination of all three. Embraer announced Oct. 18 that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Fokker Techniek and Fokker Services that “opens opportunities to explore for a broad range of activities in the Defense, Commercial and Support markets.”

The announcement focused primarily on the defense sector. But it also said, “In the commercial aviation market, engineering and logistic support will be key elements to be explored, in addition to hydrogen-powered aircraft development.”

How much may be read into this for Embraer’s TPNG program is speculative. But the development of the turboprop includes potentially a hydrogen capability.

“You can either use hydrogen on the fuel cell, which has its own challenges, or you burn hydrogen, which then you have traditional engines that can feed hydrogen directly into the engine,” Meijer told me.

Partnership

The failed joint venture proposal with Boeing set back Embraer’s plans for future aircraft programs. The money would have come from Boeing. When Boeing walked from the JV, the money went away. The COVID-19 crisis hit Embraer hard, as it did Boeing, Airbus, and all of commercial aviation. Now, Embraer needs a partner.

At the time of the interview, the Fokker MOU had not been announced. The details of the Fokker venture remain private for now. But Meijer said in our interview that Embraer was “honing in” on a partnership.

“We announced [after the Boeing JV collapsed] that we were still committed to the TP but that we wanted a partnership. Since then, we’ve been extremely active on that front. We have several financial partners that are willing to help operational partners without going into detail of who they are and where they are. We’re trying to find also out what the exact model is. How to structure that for the turboprop. Those discussions will probably iron out in the next six to 12 months. How we’re going to do that? It’s progressing but it’s too early to say who is going to be involved in what.”

Operational Gains

While ATR has for years desired to develop a new airplane, Airbus—which owns 50% of ATR—blocked the move because there wasn’t enough of an economic gain to justify the cost and pricing. (Controlling 80% to 85% of the backlog vs Bombardier was another reason for stalling.)

Embraer believes the TPNG can bring the economic benefits necessary to justify a new design.

The TPNG 70 with 74 seats will have 13% less fuel burn than the 80-seat De Havilland Dash 8-400, Embraer projects. The 90-seat TPNG will save 25% per seat. Compared with a 70-seat ATR-72, the TPNG 70 will shave 5% off fuel burn. The TPNG 90 will save 18% per seat, Embraer projects. This is over a 250nm sector.

57 Comments on “Pontifications: Engines drive timing of new Embraer TPNG

  1. I doubt Airbus would want to lose their huge market share in TP, so it might be a kick in the pants they need. When it comes to efficiency, slapping new engines on ATR might be good enough to compete with Embraer even if the latter provides much better comfort.

    • Missing too is seat comparisons. Dash 8 can seat up to 90 and does in Spicejet Service.

      AK does 76. So, with the same spacing what would Embraer seat?

      So what is the seating numbers ? and of course that changes for a given operator

    • When you think about it, so are battery-powered cars:
      1100 kilos of batteries to get a typical maximal trip length of about 450 km, with charging times that are much higher than traditional re-fueling times. Not to mention a huge EOL battery regeneration/recycling problem when the car is 7-10 years old, and a nasty tendency toward spontaneous fires.
      And yet, electric cars are selling rather well, aren’t they?

      • you do realize that gas cars are more than 10 times more likely to catch fire per million miles driven than electric cars, right?

        per the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation, 1 gas car fire per 19 million miles, 1 electric car fire per 205 million.

        there are plenty of issues with electric cars that are worth discussion, but the fire one is bogus.

        • How about the average fleet age of EV vs. ICE? What’s the comparable rate of fire when adjusted for age?

        • On the subject of battery fires.
          And particularly interesting are the spontaneous ones that just come out of nowhere while the car is parked.

          https://www.forbes.com/wheels/news/battery-car-fires/%3famp

          “It’s a serious issue that needs to be solved,” said Dave Sargent, head of the automotive practice at research firm J.D. Power. “It’s something the industry will have to get a grip on if EVs are going to be the future.”

          • obviously we are waay off topic here (sorry Scott!!!)

            the largest set of these spontaneous fires (by a massive margin) are chevy bolts and they have root caused the failure to a manufacturing defect in the battery cell that allowed an internal short to develop. the defect was not being detected by the cell manufacturer’s QC.

            people burn down their garages daily filling the gas tanks on their lawnmower or parking their car with a hot cat over that oil soaked piece of cardboard they put down to prevent their garage floor from getting stained.

            again, the fire thing is being blown way out of proportion by people/orgs with anti electric car agendas.

          • -> “the largest set of these spontaneous fires (by a massive margin) are chevy bolts …”

            You are absolutely wrong on this. Tesla have more incidents of fires.

            Audi, Hyundai, Ford and BMW all have recalls due to battery overheating and risk of fire.

            According to Reuters, Hyundai issued recall after 16 reports of fires, higher than the number of Bolt fires reported.

      • More like 600 kg for a Tesla model S with 600+ km range. Audi e-tron 55 may be the most massive at about 700-750 kg. A mid size car like Tesla 3 or Y (80 kWh) is around 500kg (1100 lbs.) and produces a range of 500+ km.

        The 1100 kg mass will be roughly correct for some of the pickup trucks with 125 up to 200 kwh of battery capacity that are coming to the US market over the next few years. 200 kwh converted to heat is the same as 6 gallons (22+ liters) of gasoline

    • I agree 100% with you. Currently, adults are back to playing games like 2-year-olds.

      If they were serious they could think of LNG, a reasonably clean fuel with great availability.

    • Hydrogen can be made to work. Either gaseous compressed hydrogen at 700 bar through fuel cells or cryogenic hydrogen through either gas turbines or fuel cells.

      I feel that by the time a cryogenic hydrogen system and technology for aircraft is available carbon neutral electro-fuels will be so well developed and already being blended in with mineral fuels that that it will be a mute point.

      I do have two caveats.

      There may be a tremendous shortfall in renewable energy to produce cryogenic hydrogen and electro fuels. In that case so called ‘blue hydrogen’ whereby natural gas is converted to hydrogen and the CO2 from the conversion is geologically sequestered can be employed. I think this is one of the big reasons cryogenic hydrogen is being promoted.

      Potentially (but optimistic) the practical efficiency of producing electro Jet fuel (like twelves e-jet) is 65% so 1000 Litres of jet fuel containing 9MW.Hr energy will require 13.5MW.HR of electricity. This equates to 2.2 hectares of solar cells (21.5% efficient, 50% coverage, monocrystalline). An A321neo needs 32,000 Litters so 64 hectares is needed to make a load per day i.e. 0.64 square kilometres. Not too bad. Could fit in the green parts of a runway several times over. Another way to look at is that 16 x 2.5MW windmills made of 750 tons of steel and concrete will be needed.

      However cryogenic hydrogen is potentially 80% efficient and the use of fuel cells 60% as opposed to 40% for a gas turbine. The combined effect reduces the requirements for electrical energy by 50%.

      In this environment high efficiency will be critical. There may be a place for large fast turbo props.

  2. If the E3 is for 75 seats, it will probably a significant heavier aircraft than the ATR-72. The E3 has a seriously bigger cross section and cargo belly and the engines are far from the wing, adding structure.

    https://theflyingengineer.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/fuse02.jpg

    I think the engine manufacturers, either PW or RR, will always keep the door open for ATR. It’s the market leader.

    An interesting case for Arjan and his team. Maybe they end up with a wing mounted engine and bigger capacity. The smaller E2’s aren’t really popular & serving different markets.

    • Embraer has put out the rear engine mount as a response to the aversion people have with prop jobs, not because it has an efficiency benefit.

      And it needs to be put to rest its a RISE aka GORe engine (if that sees the light of day its 13 years off.

      While GE and PW have developed engines for a future TP, they are high power units.

      I have made the point on a bulkier fuselage as well as rear tail mount penalty for more structure in the rear as well. It can’t not be with an E2 fuselage borrowing.

      Bottom line is this has so many leaps of faith I don’t see it at all viable.

      Equally I don’t buy the efficiency gain they are claiming.

      One aspect not noted is the Dash 8 can throttle back and gains almost ATR SFC by doing so. What speed did they compare at?

      Add into the heavier aircraft aspect and even a match fuel use wise looks dubious.

      ATR can compete on cost as well.

      It adds up but it adds up as not working.

  3. It’s fascinating to think that any engine manufacture nowadays is willing to put the effort into developing a new engine for a plane with such a (relatively) low projected uptake / market size. The article above even highlights this point: “…blocked the move because there wasn’t enough of an economic gain to justify the cost and pricing”

    • If you already produce a suitable helicopter engine the cost of transforming it to a certified turboprop is maybe bearable especially if it is certified for LH2. It maybe depend on the fuel, if some countries only allow LH2 to fill up passenger aircraft under 100 seats as the volume needed is small & subsidized and it allows the LH2 system to develop and grow before ruling that A320/737 aircraft will be next where you need capacity to deliver LH2. Most likely in an airport owned liquefying plant (owned by the government and its favorite airline) hooked up to a gas pipe where you can filter out the H2 you need and liquefy it using sea wind power.

    • If the expectation presented of producing an aircraft with the speed and range of the Q-400, the consumption of the ATR-72 and the comfort of the E175 is confirmed, I dare say that we will have a best-seller. These are ambitious goals and require an exceptional engine. I believe PWC is the big favorite.

      • P&W would be the only one with a modern new engine design. How soon they could put it into production?

        Too many of the details don’t add up, the thing about you can have any two of the three but not all 3.

        It starts out with a penalty build of rear engines and none of the details indicate the rest of the weight.

        Drag wise the E series fuselage has a penalty for the comfort.

        Having seen AK Airlines drop the Dash 8 on a perfect Turbo Prop route between Anchorage and Fairbanks (about 350 miles) – you might make it fly with the ambiance (rear engines and decent seating) but the efficiency would not be there (and that is in a state where prop Aircraft are a major presence and common use.

        • That Alaskan route change to jet from TP was probably 2 things, competition offering jet service ( 1 hr journey isnt unusual for jets) and cargo capacity

  4. Although I’d like to see a new aircraft in the sky, I can now understand why Airbus kept stalling any new development.

    A projected 5% savings doesn’t look enough to justify the probably much higher price. Will passenger pay more for the more comfortable cabin? Time will tell, I guess.

    • the OEW of the Embraer will be _much_ higher than the ATR and it will have much higher total drag requiring larger more powerful engines. if weight and drag were comparable it would be more on the order of 20% and 35%.

      the cores of the turboprop engines currently in use on the dash8 and atr are massively inefficient compared to modern turbofan cores. a new turboshaft based on the latest generation of turbofan core technology would provide a tremendous improvement in SFC.

      a current PWC127 engine in the ATR has a 12.4:1 pressure ratio and is based on a 2 stage centrifugal compressor designed before current 3d aero techniques. even an old CFM56 is operating at 32:1, Leap1 and GTF are well beyond that.

      • The turbo fans have much higher pressure ratios because that’s a feature of their far higher thrust.
        It’s thus no surprise the most powerful engines are far and away the highest numbers here. They all have risen over the decades of course with improved technology and higher turbine temperatures

        • According to an Aviation Week from March, PW’s NGRT will have a pressure ratio of 24. And GE will probably propose a turboprop derivative of the T408 turboshaft, which has a pressure ratio in roughly the same range. In the future it may be increased to above 27 on its one-spool compressor, based on what’s being developed for the US Army FATE program.

          The GE Passport is a lower-thrust derivative (at 14-20,000 pounds) of the CFM LEAP, but it still has a pressure ratio of 45. The Passport seems like a better candidate than the T408 to convert into a turboprop that Embraer would like.

      • If said more efficient engine gets designed, what’s preventing ATR from doing ‘neo’ version for a fraction of development cost and leaving Embraer with just ‘more comfort’ (which is much less important on short hops) as their selling point?

        • absolutely nothing, as long as the new engine is available in an appropriate size/power configuration for the ATR. presumably the Embraer engine will be a lot more powerful than would be needed for an ATR re-engine.

          economically, the Embraer seems like a non-starter to me.

    • Part of the reason for lower savings vs. ATR is that the ATR flies quite slowly. I suspect the Embraer would operate at speeds more in line with the Dash-8/Q400.

      • bombardier always claimed that if you flew the Q400 at ATR speeds that fuel burn was roughly the same, but the Q400 offered the option of “near jet” speeds at the cost of extra fuel.

        somehow that argument never flew with the airlines (or perhaps it was the premium pricing and higher maintenance costs of the Q400)

        • The informing of people you could operate the Dash 8 came late in the game, I saw it first from a Blog by a pilot who flew the Dash 8 citing its advantages over ATR (better routes in some cases due to the higher drift down with an engine out ).

          Its less one vs the other but more that a Dash 8 can make up time and you only use the higher speed as needed.

          I think it was too late in the sales history to make any difference.

          You have to flip that as the engine cost more (not premium) and its maint is more costly.

          So, one of Embraer’s leaps of faith is they offer the same speed as the Dash 8 (keeping in mind they have release NO details of speeds, weights or engine size)

          You need their data and is it apples to apples or are they mixing fruit and blowing smoke?

          As for Bypass ratio, I don’t think you can use that to define a Turbo Prop in comparison usage. What I found was 50-100, but they do not use the bypass as a booster or the main thrust flow like a tubo fan.

          Nothing comes out the back, it all gets fed into the prop and as I recall the PT-6 is a reverse flow engine. Yes you can get a bit of boost from the exhaust but its not much.

          You still have to sell engines and the Turbo Prop market is extremely wide. How much new tech you can put into an engine or a new one is ???? If you look at GE and the troubled Catalyst engine, in the Denali

          And that is going on a high end bird.

          So with a small markets like the Turbo Prop who is going to spend big bucks on an engine? They may make paper proposals and offer out of existing but all new whiz bang? No unless it can sell in other areas.

          • Look at the business jet market, its a bit higher annual production for the big BJ than the TP but still strong competition for those turbofans to fly them.

            I would think a ‘new’ engine for E3 is really only a derivative sized for their plane and its aerodynamics. Better to improve the airframe features than try to reinvent the 2500shp turbo prop where its the propellers that provide the ‘by-pass ratio’.

  5. I think ATR has options. Embraer has to assume ATR won’t sit on their hands. Just Q400 & ATR72 as reference for 2027 EIS isn’t realistic.

    ATR options:

    – Stretch the ATR72 cabin, towards 100 seats
    – Relocated doors
    – New low sfc engines
    – An noticable uptick in cruise speed, ceiling, runway performance
    – Wing improvements, FBW load elevation
    – Wheeltug and other useful innovations.

    Not for free, but noticeable improvements of ATR 72-600..

    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-KnONqj0AlKg/WZWn8oaCOMI/AAAAAAAACwk/eHBVQmcvtsIz3lOg0lxTWgkS1NzoUvOuACLcBGAs/s1600/ATR%2B92-900%2BDash%2B8%2BTurboliner%2Bkeesje%2Bprop%2B72%2B42%2BAlenia%2BAirbus.jpg

    • The introduction of the wheeltug is something that seems to me to be an expected development in regional aviation, as well as a fully automatic pilot aircraft, which would allow safe flights with only one pilot.

      • The money to build and certify a regional aircraft to single pilot is not going to be where it starts. The returns are not there.

        Single Aisle commercial jets (not regional) at some point.

        Eventually it might drift down to that level.

        • This is the type of technology that will arrive sooner or later. I suspect that one of the reasons for Embraer to talk so much with potential partners is related to the need to develop technologies and operating standards that will impose themselves in 10 to 20 years.

      • Wheeltug has been in development longer than the Chinese COMAC C919. Don’t hold your breath.

        • Só I understand you also don’t have much faith in eletric aircraft…

          Wheeltug and single pilot seams to bring greater impact in smaller and short range planes.

          • I was going to be nice but…

            Much like Open rotor, just keeps being on the way but never getting here.

            None in electric aircraft other than a few very specific applications (short distance)

    • I think the Q400 is 4t (equiv. 40 pass..) heavier than ATR72 and way more expensive to buy and operate. Also if you reduce speed.

      On Wheeltug, a front door for a bigger ATR would improve passenger service. Being able to shut down the props before approaching the gate would speed up everything, avoid push backs and reduce noise. Apart from environmental considerations.

  6. “Pratt & Whitney, GE Aviation and Rolls-Royce have development programs. ”

    I’d be very interested to know more about these programmes.

    • I don’t know about RR.

      PW had an all new design that was focused on ATR and or BBD at the time. Some of it morphed into the GTF core.

      GE is recycling the T38 that goes back to the 80s I believe. It has one application so far on the CH-53K. And that was a reliable and longer life vs all out efficiency.

      The biggest issue is do any of them see a market that justifies a production?

      If it was ATR PW might well go for it, Embraer with an all new that competes with their 100 series on the ATR and the Dash 8 ? (wherever the Dash 8 may be going).

      • I don’t agree with you. If they wanted to replace all the Q-400s with E175, they would have done it by now. It’s the oldest aircraft in the fleet and serves a purpose. There just isn’t a turboprop available to replace them with. However, as far as I know they haven’t come out and said what their plans are

        • Something like 64 E-175 vs 32 Dash 8.

          I like the Dash 8 (never flew on an ATR).

          But the direction has been Dash 8 erosion and they may all go over time.

          You can replace a Dash 8 with an E-175, not the other way around. As much as I like them I don’t see its future let alone an all new costly Embraer to replace it.

  7. With all due respect, but after I ve seen these numbers, I tend to qualify the Embraer TPNG an economically absurd project.
    ATR would have access to the same motor technology and 5% is nothing. I cannot imagine ATR would sit still if a competitor goes for the 90 seat market. Lower pricing will do the rest.
    How the higher price for more comfort etc game goes can be seen with the C-series. It will be a desaster.

    • I agree fully on the data is dubious and the many leaps of faith in justification are nuts.

      I don’t see where the C series critique comes in, its a competitor to the 737/A320 not a regional aircraft. C Series was built to that Trans Continental US standard. It had to have what it does to compete (granted BBD could not pull it off).

      Airbus is though it may not make much if any money for them short to medium term.

    • Although the ATR-72-600 has a much lower fuel consumption than the CRJ-900 and E175, this aircraft never had a chance to establish itself in the American market, even in a long period of oil around 100 USD / bbp. Showing moderate consumption and a good standard of comfort in terms of internal space, noise, vibrations and behavior under turbulence is certainly an important asset, especially on routes where there is competition.

    • Its only a day later and yet your claim is out of date already. I hadnt realised either that PWC started this back in 2016…cue Canadian anthem as they are supporting it with $$$

      ‘https://airinsight.com/pratt-whitney-canada-next-generation-regional-turboprop-engine/
      ‘P&WC’s NGRT is a proactive response to airframe OEMs foreseeing a 90-seat turboprop within the next few years. P&WC developed a high pressure ratio compressor that contributes to the powerplant’s ability to deliver 20% better specific fuel consumption and power from 4,500shp to 8,000shp.

    • Embraer might want to increase the size and design a 3+3 150 seater powered by CFMI RISE Engines. The ERJ195E2 max out at 132 pax in single class. So if you have the time to design a Al-Li fuselage with carbon wings built by robots until the RISE Engine is certified then make your move with the lightest Aircraft with the most efficient Engine and then start to increase MTOW and stretch it as customers are willing to pay. Much of the systems of the E2 can be carried over and then Boeing might Wake up again…

      • My long time view was the Embraer would have been wise to produce the MC-21 ‘under licence’ ( with sections like complete wing supplied from Russia as well)
        That way the get a 6 across seating without the risky design/build/certify stages. The approach you mention as a do it alone is completely out of Embraers financial and technical ability.
        Their current successful approach is to almost totally work with partners on the structural sections and major systems to share risk. No existing partner is going to ‘risk everything’ on a single aisle of that configuration.

        There is only one other way to do it. Political reasons likely mean its a no goer

  8. I see passenger resistance to prop planes. RJ’s had a higher passenger preference over props and especially over long flights the props are slower, and noisier.

  9. If one considers Embraer’s TPNG plans to be somewhat far-fetched, then what adjectives does one apply to this latest Boeing-Bezos joint venture? The wires are alive with this story today.
    Off-topic, but at least it shows that Embraer’s plans aren’t as Narnia-like as those of some other aerospace enterprises. And it isn’t even April 1st.

    “Blue Origin teams with Boeing to create ‘business park’ in space”

    https://nypost.com/2021/10/25/blue-origin-teams-with-boeing-to-create-business-park-in-space/

    • The Sun is hot. That too shows Embraer TPNG is fully viable.

      Right Mel. Whataboutism and a non on topic post, the usual.

      How about them Packers? 6-1. Go Green Bay. And don’t even get me started on my snow blower.

  10. I meant to say that if you cannot offer significant fuel savings and want to sell comfort only, you will have a hard time selling. then you cannot reach the necessary sales numbers to earn the development costs.

    This cost Bombardier a few billion.

    • Agree for Q400 just speed as a selling point didn’t help.

      The comfort, belly space and gate compatibility of the E jets is a factor.

      But creating a scope clause compliant E173-E2 might make more sense Arjan.

  11. The ATR-72’s strength is in sub 300nmi routes. It can break even with only 25 passengers whereas the Q400 might need 45. A passenger or flight attendant can stand upright, it has wide seats and it has large overhead bins. It does its job well getting people to a 300nmi destination in about 1 hour 15 minutes. That destination might be to an island in the Pacific, Caribbean, A small city in Tasmania etc, or rural roads in Australia that might take 9 hours to cover by automobile, a jungle town adjacent to a mine in Indonesia, Brazil or the Philipines. A Q400 using its speed might save 8 minutes on a 75 minute route, a jet only a few minutes more.

    I can’t see the much larger more spacious and heavier Embraer TPNG 70 breaking even at 25 seats even with its 5% fuel burn advantage. It’s capital costs will be much greater and a 5% fuel burn on 300nmi will be all of 0.75/Litres per passenger.

    So the TPNG will need to justify itself on longer routes (competing with jets), greatly increased customer acceptance, fleet commonality (eg displacing both Jets and ATR and Q400 in an airlines fleet) so that the commonality savings lower the break even point. (Hard to place a product in the market).

    ATR has been grandfathering their type certificate since 1980 (still more modern than B737 since it has an ECAM type system) but if ATR decide to introduce composites eg a supercritical composite wing it might compromise. Dornier reckoned it saved 25% on structural weight with the Do 328 using composites. There is probably 20% fuel savings on an improved engine for the ATR using latest turbine materials etc. Probably a engine from a tilt rotor or helicopter.

    However if Embraer can make a convincing case for 2000 aircraft it could get interest.

    • PWC had previously talked of clean sheet turbo prop engine ( higher power than its existing engines) for the 70 seat Plus market.
      They mention 20% sfc fuel economy improvement.
      With these sort of things I always look at a flight tracking site where you can identify all planes flying of a particular type and then sort them in longest to shortest flight time. That way you can see the real routes they are used for.
      Doing this , shows the longest DH8 flight is 2hr 45 min from Winnepeg to Montreal. Not exactly a minor route , but not typical either.[The alternative is Air Canada A220 at 2 hr 40 min too] Maybe its a Covid thing ?
      The DH8 is Canadian and US centric. The ATR72 is more widely used for many 1hr plus flights like you describe.
      You would have to think the TP will be more widely used for future routes where fuel prices are much higher and the ‘carbon content’ of each flight more widely promoted.

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