Singapore-based lessor BOC Aviation has become the first non-U.S. leasing company to order Embraer E-Jets, a move the leasing company’s CEO sees as a good way to spread risk and get access to new customers. The company on Nov. 22 announced an order for 15 Embraer E-190s with deliveries set to begin in the fourth quarter of 2012 and continue through 2014.

“We’ve been looking at the type ever since it was introduced at JetBlue [in the U.S.],” says BOC Aviation CEO Robert Martin. He says E-Jets “ticked a number of boxes.” It has a single-engine type, so one avoids having the E-Jet market divided according to engine type; E-190s are operated by a wide variety of airlines from around the world, ranging from short-haul regional carriers to full-service and low-cost carriers; and the aircraft are easy to transfer from one airline to another because Embraer refrained from providing too much customization and unique specifications.

Martin also says BOC sees a unique opportunity for the type in Asia. “The new routes opening up in Asia are going to be thin for a while,” which means a route may not have the traffic to support an Airbus A320 or Boeing 737, but it can support an E-190. He also says airport development in Asia may be such that if an airline wants to step up from a turboprop to a jet, the airport infrastructure may be unable to support larger jets, but the airport runway will be long enough to serve an E-190.

He says BOC is also considered expanding its presence substantially into widebodies, but widebody lessees want aircraft to have some unique specs, such as a particular in-flight entertainment systems or cabin interior. Such features can become a problem when the leasing company tries to move the aircraft to the next airline.

Now that BOC has committed to E-Jets, the market is a bit more crowded. GE Commercial Aviation Services once dominated this lease market but now must compete with Aircraft Lease Corp., CIT and Jetscape, as well as BOC. Martin says he is unconcerned about the increased number of leasing companies in this segment. “One more leasing company may be coming into the market,” says Martin, without elaborating.

Martin says the good thing about Embraer “is it is not ramping up production rapidly like Airbus and Boeing are.”

Lease rates on Airbus A320s, for example, have been falling due to an increase of supply, adversely affecting aircraft leasing companies’ margins.