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Canadian airline Porter is betting big on Embraer's struggling E195-E2 jet, a rival of the more successful Airbus A220 — see inside the single-aisle plane

·9 min read
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider
  • Porter Airlines just announced the purchase of 20 Embraer E195-E2 aircraft, bringing its total orders to 50.

  • The airline says its all-economy cabin will offer leather seats with adjustable headrests and inflight power.

  • Embraer's next-generation E2 jet has been underselling compared to its closest competitor — the Airbus A220.

Porter Airlines is betting big on Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer.

Porter Airlines Embraer E195-E2.
Porter Airlines

Based at Toronto Billy Bishop Airport, Porter Airlines is a Canadian regional carrier currently operating a fleet of De Havilland Canada DHC-8-400 turboprop aircraft — better known as the Dash 8.

Porter Airlines Dash 8.
shaunl/Getty Images

Source: Porter Airlines

The carrier flies mostly in eastern Canada, serving 15 destinations that stretch from Thunder Bay northwest of Lake Superior to St. John's in Newfoundland, which is North America's most eastern city and Canada's oldest.

Porter Airlines.
Porter Airlines current route map.Porter Airlines

Source: Porter Airlines

While Porter is popular north of the border, the airline is lesser known in the US, only flying to a few airports, including Boston, Chicago, Myrtle Beach, New York City, and Washington, DC. The carrier also partners with JetBlue Airways to take passengers to other destinations.

JetBlue Airways A321neo.
JetBlue Airways A321neo.Lukas Wunderlich/Shuttestock

Source: Porter Airlines

However, after a challenging pandemic that forced Porter to cease operations for nearly a year and a half, the airline is determined to expand its network throughout North America.

Porter Airlines Dash 8.
Porter Airlines Dash 8.Porter Airlines

To take passengers further than its Dash 8s can, Porter is investing in its first jet-powered aircraft — the Embraer E195-E2.

Porter Airlines Embraer E195-E2.
Porter Airlines

Source: Porter Airlines

On Tuesday, at the Farnborough International Airshow in England, the carrier announced the purchase of 20 of the E195-E2 aircraft, bringing its total order for the type to 50. Porter also has options for 50 more.

Porter Airlines Embraer E195-E2.
Porter Airlines

Source: Porter Airlines

The operator said it plans to fly the plane to "popular business and leisure destinations throughout Canada, the US, Mexico, and the Caribbean."

Porter Airlines.
Map of potential destinations with new Embraer jet.Porter Airlines

Source: Porter Airlines

The order, which is worth $1.56 billion, is a big win for Embraer's next-generation E2 aircraft, which have been underselling compared to its closest competitor — the Airbus A220.

AirBaltic A220.
AirBaltic's Airbus A220.Karolis Kavolelis/Shutterstock

Source: Porter Airlines

As of July 2022, the A220 family has garnered about 750 orders, while the E90/195-E2 series has collected about 270.

Embraer E190-E2.
Embraer E190-E2.Taylor Rains/Insider

Source: Airbus, Insider

Porter did have an order for the A220 on the condition the Canadian government lifted restrictions at Billy Bishop airport that would allow jets to fly in, but that never happened, and the order was canceled.

SWISS A220.
SWISS A220.Markus Mainka/Shutterstock

Source: ch-aviation, Simple Flying

Although the E2 is also jet-powered, the prospect of being the North American launch customer of the plane likely enticed the carrier. It was also probably able to solidify sooner delivery slots, with the first coming at the end of 2022.

Porter Airlines.
Porter Airlines

Source: Insider

Similar to Boeing's 737 MAX and Airbus' A320neo programs, Embraer launched the E2 series, including the E190-E2 and the larger E195-E2, in 2013 as an option for carriers looking to replace previous generation jets.

Boeing 737 MAX 10.
Boeing 737 MAX 10.Taylor Rains/Insider

Source: Insider

Carriers like KLM Cityhopper in Europe and Azul in Brazil operate several E2 jets. However, the plane has not gained popularity with US carriers, many of which have opted for the A220 instead.

JetBlue Airways Airbus A220-300 Flight
Flying on a JetBlue Airways Airbus A220-300.Thomas Pallini/Insider

Source: Insider

JetBlue and Breeze, which both currently operate Embraer E1 aircraft, chose to upgrade their fleets with the A220, rather than the E2.

Flying on Breeze Airways' A220.
Breeze configured its A220s in first class and economy.Taylor Rains/Insider

Breeze just launched its first-ever Airbus A220 aircraft that will take passengers coast-to-coast this summer on 18 transcontinental routes — see the full list

Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines, which is the only other US operator of the A220, recently confirmed the purchase of 12 more. The announcement brings its total A220 orders to 107, surpassing JetBlue to become the nation's largest operator of the jet.

Delta A220.
Delta Air Lines

Source: Airbus

The driving factors for carriers choosing Airbus over Embraer come down to range and capacity.

Breeze Airways A220.
Breeze Airways A220.Breeze Airways

Source: Insider

With a range of up to 3,450 nautical miles, the A220 family can fly much farther than the E195-E2, which can fly up to 2,600 nautical miles in a single-class configuration.

JetBlue Airways Airbus A220-300 Flight
Flying on a JetBlue Airways Airbus A220-300.Thomas Pallini/Insider

Source: Insider

Moreover, the A220 can carry up to 160 passengers, while the E195-E2 can only accommodate up to 132.

Breeze Airways A220.
Taylor Rains/Insider

Source: Airbus

The E2 is capable of flying transcontinental, though the A220s longer range gives it more flexibility for operators. However, Embraer argues that most of the routes the A220 is flying now can be flown by the E2.

Flying Breeze's Embraer 195.
Taylor Rains/Insider

Source: Insider

If Porter wants to push the plane to its limits, it may need to sacrifice seats. But, the carrier has fitted the world's lightest aircraft seat on its Dash 8s, so it may not have a problem.

Porter Airlines Dash 8 interior.
Porter Airlines Dash 8 interior.Porter Airlines

Source: Insider, Porter Airlines

While the A220 prevails in range and capacity, there are benefits to the E2 that the A220 can't offer. I went onboard the E195-E2 in Farnborough to learn more about the next-generation plane and see what passengers can expect — take a look.

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

Both the A220 and E2 jets are powered by Pratt & Whitney GTF engines, though the Embraer E2's design reduces fuel burn by about 25% compared to its predecessors, and 10% less than competing narrowbodies, according to the planemaker.

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

Source: Embraer

The reduced carbon emissions make the E195-E2 the world's most efficient single-aisle jet.

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

Source: Embraer

The savings translate to lower costs for E2 operators. Specifically, the E195-E2 has an 11% and 33% lower cost per seat compared to the A220-100 and A220-300, respectively, the airline told reporters at Farnborough on Tuesday.

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

Moreover, the E195-E2 was tested with 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in June 2022, which would reduce its CO2 emissions by an impressive 85%. Currently, the plane is certified to fly on 50% SAF blended with traditional jet fuel.

Embraer SAF flight.
Embraer SAF flight.Embraer

Source: Embraer

The E2 also boasts an increased noise reduction of 11% compared to the A220, allowing it to fly into noise-sensitive airports, like London Luton.

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

Source: Embraer

The jet's performance capability also allows it to fly into airports with shorter runways, Embraer support and services CEO Johann Bordais told Insider. This would benefit Porter if and when Billy Bishop airport can accept jet-powered planes.

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

Regarding the onboard product, the E195-E2 is versatile, offering carriers options for a two-class or all-economy configuration.

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

The display aircraft, known as the Profit Hunter, was configured with both first and economy. Economy had several rows of seats, all offering different pitches from 29 inches to 40 inches.

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

The first class display is a unique Embraer product, offering staggered seats to give more legroom to passengers. Specifically, the loungers offer a whopping 54 inches of pitch.

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

Bordais told Insider that there was initial concern about people being able to look over their neighbor's shoulder due to the staggered nature of the seat, but customer feedback has shown that isn't a problem.

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

The seats come with a deep recline…

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

…adjustable headrests…

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

…and a large tray table with a stand for a smartphone.

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

Bordais explained that because the overhead bins and seat tracks are uniform throughout the cabin, the first class section could be easily scaled up or back depending on carrier needs.

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

The economy sections featured slimmer seats, though with different legroom. I tried several rows to see the difference. The bulkhead proved to be extremely spacious…

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

…as well as the exit row.

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

However, I also tried the 29-inch pitch seats and it was extremely cramped. I'm about 5'3" so taller passengers will likely struggle to fit.

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

Embraer's display aircraft was showing options for carriers, so the seat pitch will be operator dependent.

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

Porter has revealed details of its E195-E2 cabin layout, which will be a 2x2 all-economy configuration — meaning no middle seat.

Porter's E195-E2 cabin mockup.
Porter's E195-E2 cabin mockup.Porter Airlines

The leather seats will offer adjustable headrests and sliding tray tables…

Porter's E195-E2 cabin mockup.
Porter's E195-E2 cabin mockup.Porter Airlines

…power outlets…

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

…and unobstructed underseat storage, meaning there won't be a metal divider between the seats.

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

Porter has, so far, not mentioned anything about Embraer's first class option or the seat pitch, though the carrier's Dash 8s offer 30 inches of pitch.

Porter Airlines Dash 8 interior.
Porter Airlines Dash 8 interior.Porter Airlines

While Embraer struggles to sell its E2 series, Porter is breathing life into the program. Embraer hopes its environmental and cost benefits will entice more customers to buy its E2 series over the competing A220.

Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Embraer E195-E2 at the Farnborough International Airshow.Taylor Rains/Insider

Read the original article on Business Insider