Embraer is close to finalizing an upgrade package for its E-Jet family to improve fuel burn and maintenance cycles.

A major aerodynamic clean-up program now under way is expected to trim 5% of fuel burn on the E-175 variant and 3% on the E-190, and a drag reduction effort still in development could include a modified winglet design, says Paulo Caesar Silva, president for commercial aviation.

The first elements of the package, offering about 1% better fuel burn, are planned for next year, along with enhanced inspection intervals. A-checks will be extended to 750 hours from 600 hours and C-checks to 7,500 flight hours from 6,000 flight hours. In addition, Embraer is working on enhanced structural and prognostic capabilities to manage engine health.

Also planned for current-generation regional jets are new avionics and a new interior, but those efforts are still being determined.

One of the first enhancements planned for the E-Jets is Controller Pilot Data Link Communication to improve flight operations, a feature that is expected to be ready this year.

Silva says many of the design elements for the second-generation E-Jets, planned for the end of the decade, remain under development, with the engine decision due by year-end. The airframer is still unclear if it will be able to use one wing for all re-engined E-175s, E-190s and E-195s, although that decision will depend partly on the engine choice.

The new aircraft also will feature further maintenance enhancements and Embraer is working with suppliers to provide a more comprehensive maintenance package.

Separately, Silva says Embraer continues to evaluate the turboprop market, but currently sees no reasonable point of entry.

The production rate of 120-130 units per year at the two established suppliers (ATR and Bombardier) for now is keeping Embraer on the sidelines; however, that situation could change as new engine options emerge around 2020.