With the first two E190-E2s flying with Norwegian regional airline Wideroe, Embraer hopes it will bring strong sales momentum to the upcoming Farnborough Air Show.

“There is a tangible expectation of deals being closed,” Embraer Commercial Aviation president and CEO John Slattery said on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Sydney. “It is such an important moment for the program. Getting marquee [customer] names early is important.”

Wideroe, which took delivery of its first E2 in April, has been using its first two aircraft mainly on domestic routes. The airline is flying the two for up to eight sectors per day and has had no significant issues or even cancellations so far. It is slowly expanding the E2 network to include destinations in Europe in the coming weeks. “Performance in service has been better than expected,” Slattery said.

The E2 is facing the Bombardier CSeries in several important campaigns, including at Ethiopian Airlines and New York-based JetBlue Airways. The US carrier is expected to make a decision about how it will replace its E1 fleet in June. Generally, Slattery observes “strong momentum” in sales.

In the transition from the E1 to the E2, Embraer plans to deliver between 85 and 95 commercial jets this year based on continued strong demand for the 175. A mid- to high single-digit number of E2 will also be delivered this year, among them the first two aircraft for China’s Hainan Airlines and five for Kazakhstan-based Air Astana.

While the immediate focus is on the market introduction of the E2 and production ramp-up in 2019, early studies have been launched into the feasibility of a new large turboprop. “There is a perfect business case for it,” Slattery said. He believes an aircraft of the size is likely to not yet have hybrid-electric propulsion.

Slattery refused to comment on the status of talks with Boeing to set up a joint venture that would include Embraer’s commercial aircraft business. Brazil is nearing national elections in the fall and the sale of one of the country’s most prestigious companies is perceived as being politically sensitive, therefore the timing of a possible deal is unclear. Embraer’s rival Bombardier has transitioned the majority in the CSeries program to Airbus, a deal that is expected to receive regulatory approval within the next few weeks.

Jens Flottau, jens.Flottau@aviationweek.com