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On Wednesday, Norwegian regional carrier Widerøe is taking delivery of the first-ever Embraer E2 aircraft, five years after the plane was launched at the Paris Air Show in 2013. It’s the largest aircraft ever made by the Brazilian company, the world’s third-biggest planemaker by sales after Boeing and Airbus.
In five years of development, testing and obtaining authority approvals, Embraer says the E2 exceeded the expectations of the company and its customers. Now, the first-ever E190-E2, which is the mid-size member of the single-aisle E2 family, is set to head to Norway with Widerøe, its first customer, which bought three. We got a first look inside the world’s newest aircraft, bearing the Norwegian registration LN-WEA, at the Embraer factory before the official delivery to Widerøe.
The E2 was designed to be similar to its predecessor, the E190, which US-based flyers commonly encounter on JetBlue, American Airlines, Air Canada and Aeromexico flights. Pilots need only 2.5 days of training in a non-simulator setting to fly the new variant. The two planes may not look all too different to the naked eye, but the E2 packs several technological advances, and most of all, burns a lot less fuel.
For example, the smaller stabilizer at the rear of the aircraft means that the E2’s longer wings are situated more forward on the aircraft. The landing gear features trailing wheels, al designed to be more fuel-efficient.
This is also Widerøe’s first jet, a huge step up for the Scandinavian regional airline in terms of fleet modernization and expansion goals.
All jets in the E2 family are powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1000G engines.
Inside the single-aisle jet, the biggest difference is in the cockpit. Although avionics between the E1 and E2 are almost identical, E2 pilots can expect to find 14-inch displays, much larger than those on the E1.
Widerøe’s largest hub is Bergen (BGO), from where it flies to many of Norway’s northernmost cites — most trips rounding out at about the two-hour mark. So, the carrier decided to optimize the space inside the aircraft with 114 seats, presumably given the short duration of many flights. It’s a tight fit.
The jet’a interior is arranged in a 2-2 configuration, like its E1 predecessor. The positive is no middle seat.
While there’s no middle seat, do expect it to be a tight squeeze once seated, with just 29 inches of pitch (or legroom) and just 2 degrees of recline. That being said, the literature pocket is at the top of the seatback, making for just a bit more legroom.
The E2 was also designed to improve boarding and deplaning efficiency. The overhead bins on the E2 are deeper than those on its predecessor by 3 inches, fitting one carry-on bag per passenger. And, by opening upward, rather than hanging overhead bins, the cabin feels roomier.
As far as in-flight entertainment goes, don’t expect seat-back screens. But for a regional airline, built-in IFE doesn’t seem necessary. Each of the tray tables features a tablet or phone holder so you can play your own entertainment without having to hold it. Each seat has its own full power outlet.
While the airline didn’t decide to add Wi-Fi, its three E2 aircraft are equipped with the necessary technology if Widerøe wants to make the move in the future.
After Widerøe officially takes delivery of its newest aircraft, it will launch LN-WEA into service on April 24, operating between Bergen and Tromsø (TOS). Widerøe CEO Stein Nilsen said at Embraer’s factory this week that the carrier then plans to use its E2s to add capacity on existing routes and more fuel efficiency than currently offered by its Bombardier Q400 trurboprops. Aside from the three confirmed E190-E2 orders it will complete delivery of by June 2018, the airline also has the option for an additional 12 jets in the E2 family — possibly the smaller E175-E2s or more E190-E2s, both of which Nilsen called the best fit for the carrier’s market.
Embraer is selling the E2s as a more fuel-efficient replacement for, or an add-on to, its successful E-Jet family, which covers the 70 to 100-seat segment. The E195-E2, which is the largest variant, and E175-E2 have still to be delivered, with the first units going in 2019 to Azul and 2021 to SkyWest, respectively. The E2 family also has firm orders from Tianjin Airlines in China and two US-based leasing companies, ILFC and Aircastle.
In addition, one US carrier in particular has been rumored to be quite interested in the E2 family. JetBlue has been eyeing a replacement for its E190 fleet. The carrier has been considering both the new E2 family of jets and its main competitor, the Bombardier CSeries. JetBlue executives met with Bombardier in February, and were confirmed to be at Embraer’s headquarters this week, though any firm order has yet to be announced.
Stay tuned for more coverage from Embraer’s factory in São José dos Campos, Brazil, as the manufacturer officially turns over the keys to its, and the world’s, newest jet.
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