Embraer's next-generation E190-E2 and E195-E2 jets are the world's quietest aircraft.
The planes compete with the Airbus A220 family, boasting better performance and operating costs.
Despite its impressive economics, the E-2 family has lagged on orders due to its low range.
Brazilian planemaker Embraer is taking on Airbus and Boeing in building next-generation aircraft.
The manufacturer's latest series of E-jets, including the E175-E2, the E190-E2, and the E195-E2, launched in 2013 at the Paris Air Show.
The effort comes as airlines seek modern, more fuel-efficient planes that reduce costs, like Boeing's 737 MAX family and Airbus A320neo series aircraft.
In 2016, the E190-E2 was the first variant in the new E-2 family to take flight. Norway's Widerøe Airlines later launched the plane's inaugural passenger flight in 2018.
The larger E195-E2 flew with Brazilian carrier Azul Linhas Aereas for the first time in 2019. Other carriers, like Swiss-based Helvetic Airways and Nigeria-based Air Peace, also operate the jet.
However, production of the E175-E2, which is the smallest model, has temporarily paused due to "ongoing US mainline scope clause discussions with the pilot unions regarding the maximum take-off weight (MTOW) limitation for aircraft for up to 76 seats."
Source: AirInsight Group
Despite the E175-E2's halt, Embraer is pushing forward with its E190/195-E2 aircraft, believing they offer the perfect combination of capacity and potential fuel savings that airline customers want.
The E-2 jets have been designed to tackle the sub-150-passenger market, with the E-190-E2 carrying up to 114 people in a single-class configuration or up to 97 in three classes.
Meanwhile, the E195-E2 can carry up to 146 passengers in an all-economy layout or 120 in a three-class configuration.
The E-2 series directly competes with Airbus' popular A220 jet. The planemaker's smallest variant — the A220-100 — can carry between 100 and 120 passengers in a two-class configuration…
…while the larger A220-300 can carry between 120 and 150 passengers in two classes.
For airlines that want to squeeze in as many seats as possible, the A220 jets can carry up to 135 and 160 people, respectively, in an all-economy configuration.
While Embraer hoped its new series of E-2 planes would be a hit with airlines, it has been underselling. As of July 2022, the manufacturer has only amassed about 270 orders for the E190/E195-E2.
The most recent order announcement was from Canadian carrier Porter Airlines, which announced its purchase for 20 E195-E2s at the Farnborough International Air Show 2022 in July, bringing its total orders to 50.
On the other hand, the A220 family has garnered over 750 orders as of August 2022, with Delta Air Lines as the largest operator with 56 currently in service.
One main factor pushing airlines to choose the A220 over an E-2 plane is its range.
The A220-100 offers a range of up to 6,390 kilometers (3,970 miles), while the A220-300 offers a 6,297-kilometer (3,913 miles) range.
By comparison, the E190-E2 and E195-E2 jets offer a 5,278-kilometer (3,280 miles) range and a 4,815-kilometer (2,992 miles) range, respectively. Both A220 models beat out the E-2 jets by at least 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).
The A220's range gives operators more flexibility on long-haul routes, like Breeze Airways, which has opted for the A220 for its transcontinental network.
However, Embraer argues its E-2 family can fly most of the routes that the A220 is flying now. But, this would require potentially removing seats, lowering the jet's capacity and possible earnings.
This may have turned airlines like Breeze away from the E-2, but carriers like Porter, which already equips its Dash 8 planes with the world's lightest aircraft seat, may not have a problem pushing the jet to its limits.
Source: Porter Airlines
So far, only foreign airlines, like Brazilian carrier Azul and Dutch airline KLM Cityhopper have opted for the E-2 jet, with US carriers, including JetBlue Airways, Delta, and Breeze, preferring to invest in the A220.
Despite its lower range, the E-2 aircraft shines in terms of capacity, fuel savings, and noise. The family currently holds the title of the quietest single-aisle jets in production.
I flew on the E190-E2 at the Farnborough International Air Show 2022 to see what passengers can expect and if the E-2 series lives up to expectations — take a look.
Wrapped in a unique "Tech Shark" livery and dubbed the "Profit Hunter," the E190-E2 proved to have a nice, modern cabin.
There was plenty of overhead bin space that could fit full-size carry-ons…
…and the lavatories were spacious.
The demonstrator jet was configured in a 2x2 all-economy configuration with 104 seats of varying pitches to show the different layouts that could be achieved.
The exit row on this particular jet offered 39 inches of pitch, while standard and extra-legroom seats offered between 29 and 34 inches.
Meanwhile, the 2x2 configuration means no one will be stuck in the dreaded middle seat.
The A220, by comparison, is configured in a 2x3 layout, meaning a handful of passengers will get assigned the middle.
Trying out the different seats, the ones with 29-30 inches of pitch were cramped, as expected. However, considering the plane will mostly fly short, regional routes, the minimal legroom shouldn't be too much of a burden.
But, if you find yourself flying on an E190-E2 in the future and want more space, opt for an extra-legroom seat, especially if you're tall. I'm only 5'3" and on the smaller side, so I fit in most airline seats.
The E-2 jets can also be equipped with a uniquely staggered first class seat made by Embraer, though it was not onboard the E190-E2 I flew on.
A mockup of the seat was on display on the Embraer’s E195-E2 at the Farnborough air show. The seat was extremely spacious with 54 inches of pitch, and the staggered design gives window-seat passengers easier access to the aisle.
However, the layout could allow travelers to look over each other's shoulder, reducing privacy, but Bordais told Insider that that has not been a complaint during testing.
While the E190-E2 cabin was nice, it mirrored other regional planes I've been on, like the first-generation E-jets or the Bombardier CRJ700/900. So, I was not immediately wowed when I boarded.
However, it was the aircraft's performance that stood out.
The takeoff from Farnborough Airport was extremely quiet, which was a nice change from the loud screeching I've experienced on older generation planes.
I could hear the conversations in front and behind me, which is not something I've noticed before.
According to Embraer, the E-2 jet's Pratt & Whitney GTF engines reduce its noise by 11% compared to the A220, which is also equipped with the same engine type.
Luís Carlos Affonso, Embraer's head of engineering and technology development, told Simple Flying that noise reduction also promotes efficiency. "Noise is energy," he said. "If you're making a noise, you're wasting energy. A quiet plane is an efficient plane."
Source: Simple Flying
For example, Embraer has created covers for the E-2's landing gear during flight. This reduces noise, and, in turn, lowers fuel burn and overall operating costs.
The wheels on prior models were exposed, increasing noise, according to the planemaker.
The E-2's cockpit also got an upgrade, boasting four large high-definition display screens. This compares to the six screens on the first-generation E-jets.
The screens can display airport maps, charts, and other pertinent information to give pilots better situational awareness.
The screens are the primary difference between the old and new generation E-jets, meaning the E190/195-E2's flight deck is nearly identical to its predecessors.
Similar cockpits allow airlines to save on pilot training because the type ratings are the same. Crews will just need to complete a "difference training" course, according to Bordais.
Overall, my flight on the E195-E2 jet was a surprisingly calm and relaxing experience. The minimal noise made it easier to enjoy the ride, and the 2x2 configuration ensures passengers will avoid the middle seat.
However, I see how its low range can be a dealbreaker for airlines, forcing them to choose the A220 or other competing jets. But the E-2's underrated performance and economics could attract more customers despite its rocky start.
Read the original article on Business Insider