Embraer’s E190-E2 has received type certification in China, announced at the Zhuhai Airshow, marking a significant achievement for the Brazilian planemaker in the Asian marketplace. The Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) certified the jet to operate in Chinese skies, something Embraer has been waiting almost five years to realize.
But it wasn’t the E190-E2 that was present at the airshow this week. Indeed, Embraer took with it its stunning ‘Techlion’ liveried E195-E2. However, Embraer remains hopeful that the certification of the slightly smaller E190-E2 will pave the way for its larger variant to enter the Chinese marketplace too.
President and CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation, Arjan Meijer, noted that,
“CAAC’s certification of the E190-E2 is great news for Embraer and our prospective customers in China. Certification paves the way for significant E190-E2 business opportunities in China.”
Guo Qing, Managing Director and VP of Commercial Aviation, Embraer China, commented on the certification, saying,
“It’s a big moment for our newest generation Embraer jet – the E190-E2 – to be certified by CAAC. Besides its right-size and fuel efficiency, the E190-E2 was born with superior hot-and-high capability. It’s the first aircraft in its class to have flown to some of the world highest airports in western China including Lasha and Yushu.
“We believe the E190-E2 is the best aircraft to serve low density but high elevation markets in western China with the right performance, more profitability.”
Demand for regional aircraft in China
Embraer’s latest market forecast projected strong demand for regional aircraft in the Chinese market. It pinpointed an anticipated delivery volume of some 1,445 new planes in the 150 seats or fewer size bracket by 2041, a market that it dominates worldwide.
The planemaker stated that this forecast is driven by the shift in China’s aviation landscape, as carriers shift to a more hub and spoke-based network from the traditional point-to-point services. Regional airplanes will enable more traffic to be fed into hubs from diverse locations, connecting more Chinese towns and cities to long haul services in the future.
Meijer noted that data suggests there are still more than a billion people living in China’s second- and third-tier cities who have never taken a flight. He hopes that many of these people will be flying on the fuel-efficient E2 in the future.
But the E2 won’t have the Chinese market all to itself. In contention for the regional demand are two homegrown aircraft that will present fierce competition for the Brazilian jet. COMAC’s ARJ21 and, of course, its forthcoming C919 both have plenty of airlines already booked up to take deliveries.
The ARJ21, already in service with eight Chinese airlines, has confirmed orders for a total of 167 aircraft, with 79 delivered so far. There are also reported orders (unconfirmed) for a further 238 of the type.
The C919, which received its type certification earlier this year, boasts 169 firm orders and a further 307 options. China has reported as many as 971 units being ordered, although many of these are sparse on detail. COMAC is set to deliver its first (and only, for this year) C919 before the end of 2022, with the airplane going to China Eastern Airlines for its subsidiary OTT. It also snagged orders for another 300 airplanes during the airshow.
Photo: Getty Images
Where Embraer could have the upper hand is in its manufacturing capabilities. The planemaker is already pushing out around 45-50 commercial aircraft per year, far more than the ARJ21, which is produced at a rate of around 25 a year. COMAC’s second assembly line should facilitate an increase, but is likely to still lag behind Embraer in terms of the speed at which the airplanes can be delivered to customers.
Also waiting in the wings is the Airbus A220, Embraer’s strongest competition. While it is not yet certified to fly in China, Airbus has been working hard to beef up its image in the market, heralding the large number of Chinese components as a key selling point for the jet.
Photo: Lukas Souza | Simple Flying
The certification of the E190-E2 could be seen as another stepping stone to Airbus realizing its ambition of being able to sell its aircraft to China. But Airbus has limitations on production speed too, and a huge backlog of orders for the type. It remains to be seen how firmly Embraer can implant itself in China ahead of the competition.