Why Did Embraer Create The E2?

The Embraer E2 family of jets is proving to be a formidable player in the large regional aircraft market. With airlines all over the world, their popularity continues to grow, and even begins to encroach on the market share of the smallest A220. To understand why Embraer decided to create this overhaul of its E-Jet series, we have to begin at the beginning.

Binter Embraer E195-E2 aircraft
Why did Embraer make the E2? Photo: Binter

Solidifying a place in the commercial market

Despite being a formidable company in the small airplane market since its formation in 1969 with the iconic Bandeirante, it wasn’t until the 1980s that it began targeting the commercial sector. Over the coming years, its EMB 120 Brasilia became the most utilized regional aircraft in the world, operated by 26 airlines across 14 countries.

However, it was the development of the ERJ-145 that really saw the planemaker catapulted to greatness. Launched in 1995, the type was an instant success. The twin-engine narrowbody jet gave rise to a whole family of ERJs, and made Embraer a premium provider of larger regional aircraft models.

15 years later, the company moved to solidify its position in the large regional jet market with its range of E-Jets. Over the following 20 years, the E-Jets would sell in excess of 1,600 units, spread across the four aircraft offered in the family. But things move fast in aviation, and Embraer was quickly looking to its next project.

United E145
The E145 was Embraer’s first widely popular large commercial jet. Photo: Getty Images

By 2010, Embraer was laying plans for its next jet aircraft. It was eyeing a gap in the market for the sub-150 seater aircraft, as it was widely expected that Boeing’s MAX series and Airbus’ neo series would not launch aircraft this small. A 70-150 seater aircraft would also allow it to compete more aggressively with Bombardier’s new CSeries family.

However, things weren’t to play out as expected. Airbus did not abandon the sub-150 seat market, and launched the A319neo. Boeing’s 737 MAX followed shortly after, and although it is more in the 150-170 seat market, still eats into this market share.

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Back to the drawing board

With Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier crowding the market for the smaller narrowbody aircraft, Embraer changed tactic. At the Dubai Air Show in 2011, it officially confirmed it would be undertaking an extensive overhaul of its existing E-Jet family, which we now know to be the E2.

To be offered initially as the E190-E2, the new jets would have bigger, new engines. They would feature larger wings, with each member of the family flying with its own bespoke wing. The jets would leverage full fly-by-wire controls, and would have an extensive reworking to drive down noise and increase fuel efficiency.

Helvetic Airways E190-E2
Despite many upgrades, the E2 retained commonality with the E-Jets. Photo: Helvetic Airways

The key to Embraer’s success was the maintenance of commonality between the E1 and the E2. Pilots trained on the E1 would be able to fly the E2 with minimal additional training. The family was officially launched at the Paris Air Show in 2013, as the E195-E2, the E190-E2 and the smallest member, the E175-E2. The smallest original E-Jet, the E170, did not make the cut.

The first E190-E2 was delivered to launch operator Widerøe in April 2018. Since then, eight further airlines have received their E2 deliveries. In all, 11 different airlines and leasing firms have ordered a total of 205 of the types, and its popularity continues to grow.

Wideroe E190-E2
Norway’s Wideroe launched the world’s first E190-E2. Photo: Embraer

The refreshment of the E-Jets turned out better than expected, with operators reporting better-than-published fuel efficiency and significant noise reduction compared to the original family. Although the family was designed to occupy the lower seat capacity segment, the larger E195-E2 has turned out to compete well with the smallest of the CSeries family, now the Airbus A220-100.

Have you flown the E2? Let us know what you thought in the comments.