In today’s commercial airline industry, air carriers have a choice. Yes, they do.
Do they squish in every seat they can, and torture their prospective clients … or, do they cut them a break, give up a few dollars, and treat them like human beings?
Such is life, in 2019.
Case in point — Embraer’s new E195-E2 jet promises passengers a ride that could be either heaven or hell.
It could be more comfortable in the airliner’s award-winning economy cabin than in other single-aisle or even some widebody jets.
Or it could be a high density, single-class nightmare with 146 seats and a knee-crushing 28-inch seat pitch.
That choice is entirely up to the airlines, but Embraer’s thoughtful design has at least given them a good platform on which to base a superior service, Airline Ratings online reported.
The Brazilian company, which is about to become part of US aerospace giant Boeing, has put a lot of effort into designing its latest aircraft and is currently showcasing the changes on a global tour.
Powered by the Pratt & Whitney PW1900G geared turbofan, the E195-E2 is the biggest of a family of three E2 jets and is due to enter service with Brazil’s Azul by the end of this year.
Another member of the family, the E190-E2, entered service in April 2018 with Norwegian carrier Wideroe and the smaller E175-E2 is due to enter service in 2021.
The three jets have maximum seating capacities ranging from 90 to 146 seats in the 28-inch high-density, single-class layout. The E195-E2’s maximum capacity adds another 22 seats to the 124 seats the E195 could carry, the report said.
But the E195-E2 can also carry 132 passengers in an all-economy layout with a more acceptable 31-inch pitch and 120 in a two-class configuration with 12 business seats and 108 31-inch pitch economy seats.
Embraer has been making commercial aircraft since the EMB110 Bandeirante in 1968 and its first generation of E-Jets entered service in 2004.
The E2s are a significant redesign of those original planes and include upgraded avionics, a new wing, new landing gear, a new horizontal stabilizer and an updated fuselage that is more aerodynamically efficient.
The wings are designed specifically for each jet and have the highest aspect ratio of a single-aisle jet to optimize fuel burn and performance, the report said.
The fourth-generation fly-by-wire system allows for structural weight reduction while giving performance and safety margin improvements.
In the cockpit, the pilot ratings stay the same as the original E-Jets but there are bigger displays with a new flight management system and central maintenance computer.
The result, says Embraer, are efficiency improvements across the board and a 17.3% fuel burn reduction.
The Brazilians see their main competitor as the Airbus 220 and, not surprisingly, say that their plane is the better option with a 10% better fuel burn, lower external noise levels, quieter cabins and the most efficient maintenance regime.
All that is great if you’re an airline but what if you’re a passenger? Changes have been made there too.
Embraer partnered with an industrial design company Priestmangoode to design the cabin and won a Crystal Cabin Award for industrial design and visionary concepts, the report said.
A new interior retains the popular four-breast economy seating with no middle seat and a generous 18.25-inch seat width.
Embraer Commercial Aviation Asia Pacific vice president Cesar Pereira says that splitting the personal service unit into two units is part of a push to create a feeling of individual space.
“It creates this concept of individual space but also we reduced the size so we free up space inside so we were able to increases the overhead bin sizes,’’ he told Airline Ratings.
One advantage of the new configuration is that the seats are on the same track all the way through the cabin so airlines can easily reconfigure the plane if they want to take out business class and move to all-economy.
The economy seat pitches ranged from a whopping 35 inches to a tight 29 inches and allowed your 197-cm-tall Airline Ratings editor to apply “the big guy test.”
How airlines will mess with the comfort angle remains to be seen and Pereira agreed there was a variation in the way airlines configured the company’s aircraft.
He pointed to Air Kiribati, which is about to receive two E190-E2s and is introducing four classes. Other airlines wanted a single class.
“It depends on the airline business model,” he said. “Some airlines are full-service carriers, dual-class in all fleets, like the US airlines.
“You have KLM in Europe, they are a full-service carrier on their long-haul flights but in the regional fleet they are all single class.”