Boeing 'Excited' About Possible New Embraer Turboprop
DUBLIN—Boeing appears to be watching a new turboprop in the planning at its likely future joint venture partner Embraer with some interest.
“Boeing is familiar with the current Embraer study for development of a new turboprop,” a Boeing spokesperson told Aviation Daily. “We look forward to reviewing the business case and are excited by the possibility of this new airplane being developed and produced within our planned joint venture.”
Embraer Commercial Aircraft president and CEO John Slattery is targeting an entry-into-service of late 2025 or early 2026 for a new turboprop aircraft management has been studying for two years.
Slattery said at the Air Finance Journal Dublin 2020 conference that the company will be in the position to present the business plan to the board at the end of 2019 for a decision to launch the aircraft which, he believes, will happen on the back of orders for “hundreds of aircraft.”
Embraer has been devoting significant efforts to the project as it prepares to transition its commercial aircraft business to the Boeing Brasil-Commercial joint venture. Slattery pointed out that the project can only happen inside the joint venture as Embraer alone will not be in the position to fund the large investment needed on its own.
In Slattery’s view, a new aircraft would provide much-needed new competition in the turboprop market where ATR has “an effective monopoly.” Embraer and Boeing are still waiting for European Commission approval for the joint venture, a process that is now likely to drag out into the 2019 second quarter. The project has received unconditional regulatory approval by eight out of ten competition authorities needed.
The ATR comment is in line with Embraer’s position that its tie-up with Boeing is good for competition as it allows the two to widen their product portfolio, much like Airbus has done through the acquisition of the former Bombardier C Series and its shareholding in ATR.
Slattery told Aviation Daily on the sidelines of the conference that the 2025/26 entry-into-service timeline is crucial for two main reasons: firstly, several airlines will be on the verge of making a decision to replace aging turboprops around that time. Also, Embraer assumes that hybrid-electric aircraft could be viable on regional routes around 2035, giving the manufacturer only about ten years to recover investment ahead of the arrival of a new competitor. The manufacturer also believes that ATR will react with a new aircraft should Embraer go ahead with the launch.
Embraer is currently looking at a two-member family of turboprops at the upper end of the market that could be complemented by a third smaller variant at a later stage that is possibly hybrid-electrically powered. The aircraft “will have the look and feel of an [Embraer] E2.” Slattery is “confident” that engine manufacturers will come up with powerplant options that will offer major cash operating cost savings over existing engines.