The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) on Thursday issued a type certificate for Embraer’s E190-E2 twinjet. The announcement made during the Zhuhai Airshow was the second approval this week for a Western-made airliner after the country’s air safety agency gave a green light to the ATR42-600 twin turboprop on November 8.
The Brazilian airframer views the eagerly-anticipated certification as a breakthrough in the Chinese air transport sector that now has locally made alternatives available. It also comes at a time when Boeing is still waiting for CAAC to clear Chinese airlines to return its 737 Max narrowbody to service, even though it has already restored certification in the wake of a protracted effort to implement changes required following a pair of fatal accidents. Some observers have indicated that poor relations between Beijing and Washington could partly explain the delayed clearance to resume operations with the U.S. aircraft.
Embraer said that it expects the larger E195-E2 aircraft to get its Chinese type certificate fairly soon. “The E190-E2 and the E195-E2, seating up to 114 and 146 passengers respectively, offer complementary capacity to China’s indigenous ARJ21 and C919 aircraft,” commented Embraer Commercial Aviation president and CEO Arjan Meijer. “The E2 will not only provide the best in class economics and emissions reductions for airliners, but also help to accelerate the implementation of China’s essential air service program to connect more secondary and tertiary cities.”
Twenty years after the program was launched by China’s state-backed aerospace industry, Comac’s 78- to 90-seat ARJ21 is in service with several Chinese airlines, although fewer than 70 were reported as delivered as of the end of 2021. In September, CAAC granted type certification to the 168-seat C919 twinjet, which is a more direct competitor to the 737 and also to the rival Airbus A320 family.
However, political tensions with Western countries have raised doubts about whether international suppliers will be able to continue to export key systems such as engines and avionics to the Chinese airframing group. GE, Safran, Collins Aerospace, Honeywell, and Liebherr are among Comac’s Western partners. Last year, the Canadian government refused an export license for Pratt & Whitney to supply its PW150C engines for China’s MA-700 regional airliner.
According to Embraer, Chinese carriers will take delivery of 1,445 new aircraft with up to 150 seats between now and 2041. CAAC’s willingness to give market access to foreign manufacturers like Embraer appears to indicate that the country’s government accepts that domestic manufacturers alone will not be able to meet the demand for fleet expansion and modernization.