The first report appeared Oct. 18, 2021.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.