Monday, 29 October 2007

Eight is Great: Embraer Reveals Timeline for Next Generation Aircraft

Embraer could introduce its next generation aircraft in under eight years. The Brazilian manufacturer has revealed it is looking at a "mid-next-decade" timeframe. Hey folks, that's right about the time that Boeing is expected to introduce a new-technology replacement for its 737.

Far be it for me to speculate, but could Embraer be gearing up to challenge Boeing - and Airbus for that matter - in the mainline sector? CEO Frederico Curado in July told Bloomberg that the company is mulling it over. A decision now, he said, would be "premature" because "there'd be no sense bringing to the market a product that will be similar to existing products". New engine technology must first be developed, he said.

Nonetheless, the use of composites seems almost assured. Embraer VP market intelligence-airline market Luiz Sergio Chiessi says composites will probably be considered for the next generation airliner's wing and fuselage. He sees no point in rejigging the current E-Jet line with these materials.

Bombardier, meanwhile, is looking to bridge the gap between regional and mainline with its proposed CSeries. As currently defined, the CSeries will be made up of 46% composites, but retains an aluminium lithium fuselage. A launch decision is expected by calendar 2008 with a targeted entry into service in 2013.

Chiessi says he is "almost sure" Bombardier will opt for Pratt & Whitney's geared turbofan (GTF) to power the 110- to 130-seat aircraft.

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