| SAO PAULO, March 29
SAO PAULO, March 29 Embraer's biggest
passenger jet ever took to the skies more than three months
ahead of schedule on Wednesday, giving the world's third-largest
commercial planemaker more time to refine the aircraft before it
enters service in early 2019.
John Slattery, head of commercial aviation for Embraer, said
in an interview that the Brazilian company was maintaining its
delivery timeline after a "very successful" first flight for the
E195-E2, which was originally scheduled for the second half of
"We do have a lot of buffer, clearly. And we are devoting
that to maturing the aircraft before entry into service,"
Slattery said, adding that he expected the milestone to help
sales campaigns for the 120- to 130-seat aircraft.
The new E195-E2 offers three more rows of seats and a more
efficient engine than the current-generation E195, improving
fuel burn by 24 percent per seat and directly challenging
Bombardier Inc's new CS100.
Slattery said he saw healthy demand for the biggest member
of the re-engined E-Jet family in Southeast Asia, Western
Europe, North America and Latin America. He first hinted at the
jet's early flight in a Reuters interview earlier this month.
The E195-E2 program remains on budget and in line with
specifications, he added. Brazilian airline Azul Linhas Aereas
Brasileiras SA, which has placed a firm order for 30 of the
aircraft, will be the first operator of the new jet.
(Reporting by Brad Haynes; Editing by Bill Rigby)