SINGAPORE - Embraer has not yet received a proposal from Boeing for a possible combination of the manufacturers, Embraer Commercial Aviation President and CEO John Slattery said at the Singapore Airshow.

The two companies are still working on “identifying a structure that might work,“ Slattery said, declining to identify further details of such a structure. 

Embraer and Boeing confirmed on Dec. 21 that they are in talks about combining their businesses. The potential move follows Airbus’ decision to take a majority stake in the Bombardier C Series program, although Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg claims that a potential Embraer transaction is unrelated to the deal. Key to an agreement is bringing the Brazilian government on board, which owns a golden share in the program.

Scenarios include Boeing taking a minority stake in Embraer to allow for majority control to remain with its other investors. The two are also rumored to be looking into the creation of a joint venture for commercial aircraft into which Embraer’s commercial business could be integrated.

The talks are taking place as Embraer nears certification of the E190-E2 in the coming weeks. The first aircraft is to be delivered to launch operator Wideroe at the end of March. The Norwegian regional carrier plans to start scheduled services in the second half of April. Slattery believes Embraer can significantly broaden the customer base of the E2 in Asia Pacific very soon. He expects Embraer to be able to add six to eight customers to the 14 that already exist in the region. “We are targeting larger flag carriers and low-cost carriers,” he said. Slattery anticipates that “marquee names will join the program this year” after the aircraft has been certified.

Slattery also pointed out that he is “confident” the E175-E2 will be delivered in 2021 as planned. The smallest member of the E2 family is not compliant with U.S. scope clause agreements and therefore cannot be used in the U.S. market by most regional carriers affiliated with mainline airlines, unless scope clauses are changed. Embraer has pushed out entry-into-service by one year to allow more time for scope regulation to be renegotiated, but Slattery stressed that “we are not planning to reschedule at this time.” The aircraft was never expected to be marketed only in the U.S., but was also pitched at airlines elsewhere seeking to replace turboprops and smaller regional jets, he said.

Embraer is also able to continue production of the E1 version, particularly the E175 “ad infinitum,” according to Slattery. Given that the manufacturer has established a hybrid final assembly line that can handle the E1 and E2, “there is no drop-dead date [for the E1].”

Strategically, Embraer is targeting a much broader customer base for the E-Jets. “About 50% of the meetings we have are with customers that do not already operate E-Jets,” Slattery said. Overall, Embraer expects the market for aircraft up to 150 seats to total 10,550 units in the next 20 years. Around 3,000 of these (or 29%) will be delivered into the Asia-Pacific region, the company estimates. North America and Europe are following at 26% each. Currently 165 Embraer jets fly in Asia-Pacific.