Embraer is hoping to win its first order from the Middle East for its next-generation E-Jet E2 as the prototype regional airliner comes together at its headquarters in São José dos Campos, Brazil.

“We have a very good position as market leaders in the Middle East in the 70-136 passenger with our Embraer E-Jets,” says Embraer Commercial Aircraft president and CEO Paulo Caesar Silva. “The new E2 will be terrific for the region. It will be more efficient and more robust for the harsh environment, and we’ve been talking with our customers there to make it even more suitable for them.”

But that first order so far has been elusive. In fact, Embraer has found the Middle East market for regional jets to be very far from mature. To date, it has won orders for 60 of its airliners in the region, including North Africa (the largest operator is Egyptair with 15) but airlines continue to fly legacy Airbus and Boeing aircraft on routes that are too thin to generate profits that a more efficient aircraft could realize.

The E2, says Caesar, is spearheading Embraer’s argument to airlines that they should operate fleets of aircraft “right-sized” for the routes they wish to fly. The Embraer 195, he notes, is already far more efficient on those routes than larger Airbus and Boeing narrowbodies, and the E2, with its aerodynamic improvements and more efficient, next-gen Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines, will come in 23% lower still in seat-mile costs.

Embraer is about to deliver the 1,200th E-Jet since the family was launched 10 years ago, and it was booked more than 1,700 orders.

The first prototype of the E-Jets E2, an E190-E2 model is now entering final assembly, with the fuselage painted and the wings installed. Embraer plans to begin flying the first E190-E2 in the second half of 2016, with entry into service set for 2018. The E195-E2 is scheduled to enter service in 2019 and the E175-E2 in 2020.

Flight tests of the E2’s PW1900G engine began last week on Pratt’s 747SP flying test bed in Mirabel, Canada. Although intended as a relatively short test campaign because of commonality with the engine for the Bombardier CSeries engine, evaluation may extend into early 2016.

Earlier this year Embraer won the 2015 Crystal Cabin Award in the “Industrial Design and Visionary Concepts” category for the E-Jets E2’s cabin interior concept. Among  its features are overhead bins about 40% larger than those of current generation E-Jets.

The mockup of the cabin is making its Middle East debut here at the show, on Stand 2260.