The Brazilian aircraft manufacturer has always been good at finding a niche and developing an aircraft for it. Coming from this fringe position, the aircraft manufacturer has created its own market, thanks to a particular combination of capacity, range and economic efficiency. What has already been successful in the passenger market, Embraer now wants to repeat in cargo.
Embraer hit the jackpot with its E-Jets. The E170 and E175, with 78 and 88 seats respectively, became the standard aircraft for commuter airlines in the USA, virtually from out of the box. And the larger E190/E195 with up to 146 seats, which followed just two years later, were also a success. After the first delivery to Poland's LOT in MAR04, it was just nine years later when the thousandth E-Jet was handed over. Meanwhile, Embraer can look back on more than 1,700 orders for this aircraft family, which was largely responsible for Bombardier’s discontinuation of its once pioneering and successful CRJ series.
New market niche
Now that the first aircraft are approaching their age limit and a fundamentally modernized successor, the E2 family, is on the market, Embraer has set its sights on a new market niche. According to the company's analysis, it fits between turboprop freighters such as the ATR72-600F, and narrowbody jets converted to freighters such as the A320-200P2F, or the Boeing 737-800BCF. Embraer has identified 242 aircraft in this segment, most of them converted Boeing 737-300s with an average age of 35 years.
Range as a plus
Here, freighters based on the E190 and E195, are to serve as an economical, low-emission, and also extremely quiet alternative. “We already had this possibility in mind when we defined the fuselage’s cross-section,” Michal Nowak, Vice President Marketing and Sales, Europe and CIS, tells CargoForwarder. ULDs fit inside, as do standard 125'' x 88'' x 64'' pallets. In total, the E190F offers a cargo volume of 103 m³, the E195F with its longer fuselage, even 118 m³. It thus comes close to a 737-300F. The Maximum Structural Payloads are 13,150 kg and 14,300 kg, respectively. A big bonus is the range. With Maximum Volumetric Payload, Embraer states that the E190F can cover 2,400 nm (4,300 km).
Door opener for new markets
Globally, Embraer sees a market of 700 aircraft in this class over the next 20 years, one-third of which will replace current freighters in this segment, but two-thirds of which will be the result of growth. The combination of range, speed, lower Cash Operating Costs, and significantly lower MRO costs compared to legacy aircraft, opens up interesting opportunities for cargo airlines to enter new markets.
The first delivery is scheduled for 2024. The launch customer is Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC); the world's largest leasing company for regional aircraft. It has ordered up to ten conversions. The aircraft will come from the company's own leasing fleet. Embraer plans to convert up to twelve aircraft per year at its São José dos Campos site in future. These changes include: main deck front cargo door; cargo handling system; floor reinforcement; Rigid Cargo Barrier (RCB) - 9G Barrier with access door; cargo smoke detection system, including class "E" extinguishers in upper cargo compartment; Air Management System changes (cooling, pressurization, etc.); interior removal and provisions for hazardous material transportation.
Reduction of CO emissions2
A first E195F is already in service with Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras, supplementing its cargo fleet consisting of Boeing 737-400s and Cessna Grand Caravans up to now. The company already converted it in 2020, in its own maintenance facility in cooperation with aerospace engineering specialist, LHColus Technologia. However, no side cargo door was installed because this was not necessary for the type of cargo Azul transports. Since Azul has already received its first E195-E2s, three more E195 Classic are ready for conversion. The airline expects to be able to reduce CO2 emissions by around 9 million tons per year using the new freighters.
KC-390 facing late commercial career?
Embraer definitely does not want to rule out offering its KC-390 Millennium to the civilian cargo market as well. The military transporter, which looks like a scaled-down Boeing C-17, has a payload of 19 tons. Yet, what makes it special, is the loading ramp in the rear and the 3.45 m × 12.15 m × 2.97 m cargo hold. A demilitarized KC-390 would thus be a modern alternative to the Lockheed L-100 and Antonov An-26.
Whether this is realistic remains to be seen. On the one hand, the aforementioned aircraft have long since become obsolete, and on the other hand, no modern military plane has yet made it into the world of civil air freight. At Boeing, corresponding plans existed for the C-17. There were talks with interested parties in the early 2000s, but ultimately, they failed due to the high cost of the aircraft. And as long as the market for outsized cargo, humanitarian missions, and disaster relief is covered by Russian and Ukrainian-built transports, this is unlikely to change.
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