Embraer bridging between E1 and E2

Much hype there was during and after the Paris Air Show last year, when Embraer launched their EJet E2 family. 365 orders, MoU and LoI from Skywest, ILFC and five unannounced customers sounded like a good start and some media was quick to compare it to the current backlog of the CSeries, which had a similar amount of orders at this time – but 5 years the “launch” LoI from Lufthansa/Swiss.
Now, a few months later, there are “just” two the two orders that were announced at PAS13: 100 aircraft for Skywest (E175E2) with 100 further options and both 25 E190E2 and E195E2 for ILFC also with an equal number of options. None of the five unannounced customers came forward since June 2013 and no other customer was added.
Last week Embraer announced their numbers for orders and deliveries in 2013. Deliveries for the EJets were exactly at plan with 88 for the year. Orders looked great with American, United, Skywest ordering large numbers of E175 and taking even more options.
But let’s have a deeper look in the orderbook: Open Orders at the beginning of the year was at 279:
    1 E170
188 E175
  73 E190
  17 E195
The E170 is obviously one delivery away from dead. It is too small for the North American regional market, where the new sweet spot if 76 seats in two classes and this is where the E175 fits in ideally. The backlog of 73 for the E190 does not look too bad at first glance, but in fact you have to subtract the 24 E190 for Jetblue as they are deferred until after 2020, when the E2 version of the E190 is available and Jetblue made it already clear that they are aiming for a switch to the E2. It could also be that they will abandon the 100 seater altogether by that time and finally cancel the order.
The 7 E190 in the orderbook from flynas (or Nasair) are also questionable, as the airlines is phasing out their EJets they already have. Another shaky part of the order book are the 24 open orders for E175 from flybe. The carrier is deep in a restructuring phase and has to become profitable soon. But let’s keep them in for that following exercise:
Without the 24 E190 for Jetblue the backlog at Jan. 1st, 2014 was 255 aircraft. With a constant delivery rate of 88 aircraft per year the backlog will be at zero in Q4 2017 2016. But the EIS for the E190E2 is slated for the middle of 2018, the E195E2 should come in 2019 and the E175E2 finally in 2020. So Embraer has
-          to find more customers for the current EJets
-          to speed up the development of the E2 family

Well, in essence, they have to do both, I would say!

Embraer first announced the EJet E2 with in January 2013 when they said that they will be powered by PW1700G and PW1900G engines by P&W. These engines are essentially the engines for the Mitsubishi MRJ (PW1200G) and the Bombardier CSeries (PW1500G). These engines are already existing, tested and, in the case of the PW15000G, certificated. This is the big difference between the EJet E2 reengine program and the A320neo and B737MAX program, where the engines are the pacing item.
The EJet E2 aircraft are getting new wings, new undercarriages, a new flight deck and a full fly-by-wire system: sure, these things take their time, but Embraer took a lot of time already to decide how to react to the MRJ, CSeries and the A320neo/B737MAX. So there should have been more than just a concept at the beginning of last year and Embraer is currently testing a full fly-by-wire system with their Legacy 500 Business Jet. In fact, they “learned” so much that they switched to Moog as a supplier for the FBW system for the E2 Jets, as the Parker system contributed a lot to the delay of the Legacy 500/450 program (there could also be another reason behind that switch, as Parker is part of the “GE World” and GE lost the engine contract…).
In short, I think Embraer has to bring forward the E2 program as much as they can – otherwise they would face a production hole – but wait: there is hope: if the Mitsubishi MRJ would be delayed even further, the two big customers (Trans States and Skywest) for the MRJ would be forced to look at alternatives. The only logical aircraft that could replace the MRJ90 deliveries in the 2016/2017 time frame with the same cabin comfort would be the E175E1. This might be the reason why Skywest took options for 100 E175E1 last year when placing the order for 40 E175E1. Also United, American Airlines and Republic took further options for the E175E1. It looks like there is a considerable “hedging” against a further MRJ delay and this might help Embraer to bridge to gap between the current E1 and the forthcoming E2.