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A little more than a week after it was officially delivered to its launch customer Widerøe, Embraer’s first commercially operating E190-E2 has made it to its new home in Norway.
After stopovers in Recife (REC) and Las Palmas (LPA), the ferry flight from Brazil made one last stop in Aberdeen, Scotland (ABZ), in order to pick up journalists, staff members and other special guests for the short hop across the North Sea to Bergen (BGO).
This was a perfect occasion for Widerøe and Embraer to showcase the capabilities of this state-of-the-art airliner, and certainly, we here at TPG were excited to have the chance to experience the aircraft ourselves first-hand during the delivery flight.
From Brazil to the North Cape
The arrival of the E2 represents a major qualitative step for Widerøe, a regional operator in Norway that has so far confined itself to the use of turboprops. With the E2, Widerøe expects to add capacity and strengthen its connectivity between the West coast of Norway and the northernmost regions of the country, which are two of the most popular destinations in Norway thanks to their dramatic scenery and unspoiled nature.
Widerøe is also slowly but steadily expanding its footprint outside of Norway. The E2’s additional range will open new opportunities for international expansion, including already planned charter flights to destinations in the Mediterranean.
The E2’s differences with respect to previous generations of the E-Jet family may not be immediately apparent, but there’s a lot more than meets the eye. From the engines to the wings and avionics, this aircraft is the result of a thorough re-engineering process that has left few areas of the plane untouched.
Cabin and Seating
Widerøe has opted for a single-class, 114-seat configuration for the E2. It has equipped the cabin with slim, Zodiac Aerospace Z2 seats.
To be honest, the 29-inch seat pitch is tight and the recline is barely noticeable, but perhaps this isn’t particularly vital for the relatively short domestic segments that are Widerøe’s bread and butter. Also, the two-abreast configuration contributes to the feeling of spaciousness when compared with the three-abreast of larger jets.
Securing some overhead bin space for your carry-on luggage is usually the first priority when coming on board, and the E2 provides a significant improvement over previous versions of the E-Jets.
As a matter of fact, earlier on the same day I had flown on an older E-Jet version operated by a different airline, so I had a fresh reference point to compare. I had no issues at all placing my not-so-small piece of luggage in an already partly full overhead bin on the E2.
Another nice touch — and an increasingly less trivial one — is the fact that each seat comes equipped with AC outlets that make it possible to recharge electronic devices during the flight.
This feature was incredibly useful to me, as by the time I boarded the plane, shooting so many photos had depleted my battery to dangerously low levels… and with the best part of the trip still ahead of us!
These outlets may become even more valuable if and when Widerøe rolls out a bring-your-own-device IFE system. At the moment there is no Wi-Fi, but I was told that the aircraft already has the necessary infrastructure to roll out inflight connectivity should Widerøe decide to go this route.
An Extremely Quiet Aircraft
While the cabin was generally impressive for a small plane, the E2’s most outstanding feature from a passenger experience point of view is that it’s extremely quiet. This was easily the first item mentioned by my fellow passengers when I had the chance to speak with them after the flight.
I was personally sitting next to one of the engines and, while it was possible to feel the powerful thrust of the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan (GTF) engines upon take off, engine noise was never more than an afterthought. And during the press conference in Bergen after the flight landed, Embraer’s executives even boasted about the E2 being the quietest aircraft in its category.
What About the Flight Itself?
The trip went exactly as expected — smoothly and with an atmosphere of joyful celebration. The send-off ceremony at Aberdeen had the fanfare we’ve come to expect at such special occasions, including the traditional water cannon salute and even bagpipes — this was Scotland after all!
Once in the air, we hardly had time to down some sparkling wine before the dramatic scenery of the Norwegian coast became visible over the horizon.
A small crowd and another water cannon salute were waiting for us at Bergen Flesland airport. Immediately after landing, we taxied to a quiet space at the edge of the facility, next to a large hangar that had been transformed into a temporary gala venue for the occasion.
A short press conference was held before dinner featuring Widerøe’s CEO Stein Nilsen, the CEO of Embraer’s Commercial Aviation Unit John Slattery and Andreas Aks, E2 project manager at Widerøe. Mr. Aks explained how the fuel burn rate of the E2 actually exceeded expectations on the delivery flight. That may not be representative of normal operating conditions as the plane was mostly empty, but he illustrated this point by noting that, after the long ferry flight from Las Palmas, no additional refuelling was needed in Aberdeen in order to reach Bergen.
The Welcome Party
The E2 was, of course, the “guest of honor” at the dinner that followed, as it made a stellar entrance to the venue accompanied by a live performance of drums. This was just a prelude to an evening of music and dance performances, from capoeira to opera, that provided entertainment throughout the evening.
There was also some time for another visit on board the aircraft, including access to the state-of-the-art cockpit.
If you’re interested in experiencing Widerøe’s new E190-E2 for yourself, the first scheduled revenue flight is planned for April 24 between Bergen and Tromso (TOS). It’s an excuse as good as any other to explore the magnificent sights that this part of Norway has to offer!
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