The Embraer 190 revolutionized the market for regional airlines and short-haul routes. Thanks to modern engineering solutions and decades of expertise in this segment, Embraer delivered a jet that kept costs low but reached the comfort and performance levels once reserved for larger medium-haul airliners.
I have fallen in love with the E190. I spent most of my life flying on the 737 and A320 or cramped turboprops, so it was a massive difference when companies upgraded to the E-Jet. This jet is a Swiss army knife that allows most airlines to fly domestic or continental routes without breaking a sweat.
Bottom Line Up Front
The Embraer 190 offers airlines a package that felt impossible to achieve for many years. With an outstanding 99.9% reliability rate and the new E190-E2 in serial production, the iconic Embraer 190 will remain a staple of short routes for many years.
Making the Embraer 190
Since the introduction of the small EMB-110 Bandeirante turboprop airliner, Embraer has been a global staple in the regional market. The Brazilian company earned the trust and loyalty of airlines due to its reliable and affordable aircraft. The EMB-120 Brasília followed the Bandeirante in the 1980s, but Embraer only jumped into the jet market in the late 1990s.
The Embraer Regional Jet family took over regional and feeder routes worldwide. The sleek ERJ, clearly inspired by the lines of the Brasília, delivered a fast jet performance at turboprop prices. Embraer delivered 1231 units of the ERJ and its derivatives between 1997 and 2020, but shortly after its introduction, the company began an even more ambitious design campaign.
Embraer launched the final layout of the E-Jet family during the 1999 Paris Air Show. The company offered two models, the ERJ-170 with 70 seats and the ERJ-190 with 90. Following positive feedback on the new aircraft, Embraer expanded the range with the E175 and later the E195. These two variants stretched the original E-Jets to meet the needs of different airlines.
The E170 and E175 were perfect for companies running feeder routes or bound by stricter scope clauses that limit the number of seats. On the other hand, the E190 and E195 allowed Embraer to dominate the 100-passenger niche. The Embraer 190 attacked the regional and short-haul segments due to its good seating and range.
When the next-generation geared turbofans entered the market in the 2010s, Embraer reacted quickly and developed the E-Jet E2 family. This new series brought the E190, E195, and E175 up to the latest standards for commercial aviation.
Embraer 190 / Specs
The Embraer 190, officially the ERJ-190-100, is the larger sibling of the E170 airliner.
The E190 is 118 ft 11 in long and has a wingspan of 94 ft 3 in. The top of the vertical stabilizer sits at 34 ft 8 in from the ground. The aircraft has a wing area of 996 sq ft, compared to 783 sq ft with the E170. The Embraer 190 has an aspect ratio of 8.91 instead of 9.3. This part is subjective, but I feel the E190 looks much sleeker than the E170.
At its maximum takeoff weight, the Embraer 190 weighs 114199 lbs. The airliner can carry a payload of 28800 lbs with an internal fuel capacity of 28596 lbs. The stretched version of the aircraft, the E195, weighs 115280 lbs and has a 30716 lbs payload. The jet seats 104 passengers in one class, compared to 96 in dual-class.
The Embraer 190 and 195 use a pair of General Electric CF34-10E engines, which output 20000 lbf each. This powerplant has a bypass ratio of 5.4:1 and specific fuel consumption of 0.64 lb/lbf/h. These engines are a civilian evolution of the TF34 high-bypass turbofan used in the USAF A-10 ground attack aircraft and the US Navy S-3 Viking anti-submarine jet.
According to US airlines, the CF34 engines have good reliability, but maintenance costs are disproportionately high for its class. An acquaintance of mine went as far as saying it is the sole reason for the E190 not beating all competitors in terms of operating costs. Once Embraer replaced the CF34 with the geared turbofan in the E-Jet E2, these problems went away.
The primary motivation for the E-Jet E2 development was to match the Bombardier CSeries. The Pratt & Whitney PW1900G geared turbofan puts out between 19000 lbf and 23000 lbf of thrust. The Embraer E190-E2 has a fuel consumption 17.3% lower than the standard E190. According to Embraer, the 190-E2 costs approximately 10% less than the Airbus A220 for the same flight.
The Embraer E190-E2 looks similar to the 190, but there are differences. Embraer introduced a new gull-wing with an aggressive aspect ratio of 11:1. Other aerodynamic improvements include cleaner flaps, covered wheel wells, and smaller control surfaces. The horizontal stabilizer is a quarter smaller than that of the standard E190. The Brazilian company modified the closed-loop fly-by-wire system in the E190-E2 to improve fuel consumption. While the Embraer 190 used hydraulically-actuated ailerons, the E2 delegated those to the fly-by-wire system, which saved 440 lbs in the wings.
The E190-E2 is 118 ft 11 in long and has a wingspan of 110 ft 5 in. The airliner is rated for a maximum takeoff weight of 124300 lbs and can carry up to 30200 lbs of payload. The 190-E2 has a fuel capacity of 29800 lbs. The cabin seats between 96 and 114 passengers, depending on the configuration.
Between 2005 and 2022, Embraer secured 568 firm orders for the E190, with another 20 for the E190-E2. The Brazilian company is now only behind Boeing and Airbus in the commercial airline market.
Embraer 190 / Prices
The initial asking price of the base Embraer E190 was $51 million, with Honeywell Primus Epic avionics and a pair of General Electric CF34-10E engines. Embraer brought the improved E190-E2 to the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow with an asking price of $60.8 million per aircraft. Embraer marketed the E190-E2 as the Profit Hunter.
Embraer 190 / Performance and Handling
The Embraer E190 has a nominal cruise speed of Mach 0.78, with a top speed of Mach 0.82. The Brazilian airliner has a service ceiling of 41000 ft. The first variant of the E190 can fly out to 2450 nautical miles at maximum takeoff weight. Due to the heavier structure and additional payload, while retaining the same fuel capacity, the longer Embraer E195 has a slightly reduced range at 2300 nautical miles.
The Embraer 190 needs 6890 ft of runway to takeoff at its maximum takeoff weight of 114199 lbs. The E195, with an MTOW of 115280 lbs, requires 7149 ft. At their maximum landing weights, the E190 stops within 4081 ft, compared to 4183 ft for the E190.
In 2018, the first Embraer E190-E2 became operational. The jet uses a new Pratt & Whitney PW1919G geared turbofan, aerodynamic revisions, and an improved fly-by-wire system. Because of these improvements, the range grew to 2850 nautical miles. The E195-E2 implemented similar improvements and can fly out to 2655 nautical miles. The cruise speeds and altitude remained the same. Takeoff distances improved dramatically. The E190-E2 requires 4760 ft to takeoff, while the E195-E2 uses 6460 ft.
One handling quirk of the Embraer E-Jet family is the tendency to fishtail at slow speeds. Some passengers feel the ride in the last rows is substantially bumpier than in other airliners, though I have never noticed this after many flights on the E190. The rear of the Boeing 737-800 feels a lot worse. Pilots have said they enjoy the control authority and stability of the E190 during poor weather.
Embraer E190 landings feel harder than the ERJ-145 ones. The underwing podded engines in the E190 limit the travel range of the landing gear, unlike the fuselage mounts on the Embraer Regional Jet.
Thanks to the pleasant handling and modern avionics, pilots love the Embraer E190 for non-precision approaches. According to an Air Canada pilot with experience in the E175 and E190, the E-Jet can ride the autopilot and flight director down to 50 feet.
Embraer 190 / Modifications and Upgrades
The Embraer 190 series has three main segments. The first is the original E190 which came out in tandem with the E170 in 2005. In 2018, Embraer introduced a modern revision called the E190-E2. Besides its illustrious career as a short-haul airliner, the Embraer 190 also found a popular niche as a VIP jet.
The E190 is one of the two original models conceived as successors of the Embraer Regional Jet series. The aircraft seats 88 to 114 passengers and uses a pair of General Electric CF34-10E. The Embraer 190 entered service in 2005 with JetBlue.
The Embraer E195 entered the scene in tandem with the E190. The aircraft stretched the fuselage by 7 ft 11 in and seated between 100 and 124 passengers. The longer variant shares over 95% parts commonality with the E190.
Embraer created the E-Jet E2 series to fight the Bombardier CSeries, which later became the Airbus A220. The new E190-E2 uses the next generation Pratt & Whitney PW1900G geared turbofan with higher fuel efficiency. The aircraft also received aerodynamic and avionics refinements. The Embraer 190-E2 has between 96 and 114 seats.
The Embraer 195-E2 is a stretched version of the 190-E2 but with a larger wing to accommodate the weight change. The Brazilian company considerably expanded the seating to between 120 and 146, making it the largest commercial aircraft in its portfolio. The Embraer E195-E2 holds the record as the largest aircraft to ever operate from London City Airport.
Embraer launched a VIP conversion of the E190 in 2009. The Lineage 1000 replaced part of the baggage area with additional fuel tanks, which expanded the aircraft’s range to 4600 nautical miles. The business jet conversion has 19 seats plus a crew of two. Embraer built 28 units of the Lineage 1000 between 2009 and 2020 when production ended.
Besides business clients, the aircraft found love in the military sector. The Brazilian Air Force operates two Lineage 1000 aircraft as the VC-2 VIP transports with a comfortable interior. The Pakistani Navy runs a large project to convert up to ten Lineage 1000 airframes into the Sea Sultan patrol and intelligence model.
Embraer 190 / Where to Find Replacement Parts
Embraer has six service centers and dozens of authorized or independent ones that work with the E190. There are at least three service centers in each continent for E190 operators.
Embraer 190 / Common Problems
The Embraer E190 is a reliable aircraft. Most airlines enjoy working with them. According to 2019 data from Embraer sales staff, the E190 has a dispatch rate of 99.4%, and the E190-E2 reached an incredible 99.9%. Some maintenance personnel is not fond of its quirks, however.
The Embraer 190 is a flying computer, and like most computers, it occasionally needs a reset to get things working. The two main gripes I have heard about are that any component change mandates a system update and that pulling the parking brake sets the aircraft in “gate” mode. Only the maintenance crews can reverse this, which has led to awkward delays after pilots set the brake on while waiting to depart.
Maintenance staff from major airlines have complained about the Embraer customer service. The Brazilian company prefers a hands-on approach to maintenance and tries to act as a link between the airlines and the shops. Smaller and regional carriers like this method, as it lifts part of the maintenance burden from their shoulders, but large airlines with established engineering departments like having more authority over the process.
In the United States, scope clauses between airlines and pilot unions have stunted E190 sales. Major airlines like Delta and United have a hard cap of 76 seats for pilots flying regional or feeder routes. The Embraer 190 falls foul of the rule by being in the 100-seat class. The E170 and E175 fit this niche like a glove. Proposed changes to the scope clauses have foiled E175-E2 sales to the point where Embraer put the program on hold.
Some mainline carriers began replacing the Embraer E190 with Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX variants in the 2010s. The new generation of engines made these new aircraft as economical as the first E-Jet despite boasting higher passenger capacities. The arrival of the Airbus A220 compounded this issue.
This aspect is not a downside of the Embraer E190 but is part of a natural process. Newer, more efficient aircraft introduced a decade later will replace their predecessors. The E-Jet E2 has brought Embraer back into the fight for the next generation of airliners.
Embraer 190 / Resale Value
The Embraer E190 is an affordable plane to acquire and own for airlines. These aircraft typically spend little time in the market before finding a new home.
Due to its popularity with small airlines and regional subsidiaries of major ones, the Embraer 190 is a favorite of leasing companies. The airline market can be unpredictable, so airlines and lessors frequently tinker with their fleets to keep the business afloat.
According to an August 2020 article by Rytis Beresnevicius for Aerotime, American lessor Azorra Aviation sold fourteen Embraer E190s to Alliance Airlines in Australia for $79.4 million. Buying an Embraer 190 for only $5.6 million is not a typical deal, especially with the spare engines and parts included by Azorra. However, this sale reflects the falling prices of used airliners.
Embraer 190 / Similar Aircraft
The Embraer 190 competes against other airliners with around 100 seats and a transcontinental range in the United States. This performance pits it against larger regional jets and smaller medium-haul aircraft. Competing in two niches is both a blessing and a curse for Embraer, as it allows the E190 to target more clients but invites more competition.
When the E190 entered service, the airliner competed with derivatives of the popular Airbus A320, Boeing 737, and 717 families.
The Boeing 717 was the most obsolete competitor to the Embraer E190. This T-tail airliner is a modification of the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 that entered service in 1980. The company shortened the fuselage to fit 106 to 117 seats and replaced the obsolete Pratt & Whitney JT8D with the high-bypass Rolls-Royce BR715 turbofan engine.
In 1997, Boeing absorbed McDonnell Douglas, and the MD-95 became the Boeing 717. The airliner falls short of the Embraer 190 in all performance parameters. In July 2022, there were three companies still flying the Boeing 717. Only Hawaiian Airlines plans to keep the aircraft flying past 2023.
Another Boeing product contemporary with the 717 fits the 100-seat niche. The Boeing 737-600 debuted in 1998 as the Next Generation entry to replace the 737-500 from the Classic series. The 737-600 uses a pair of CFM56-7B engines and seats 108 to 130 passengers depending on the configuration.
Despite its diminutive size, the airliner has the same fuel capacity as the larger 737-700 and 737-800. This feature gives the 737-600 excellent range at 3235 nautical miles, exceeding that of the Embraer E190. The two aircraft have otherwise comparable performance, but the higher operational costs of the Boeing 737-600 relegated it to a meager 69 units.
In 2003, Airbus introduced the shortest version of its A320 family. The A318 follows a similar design philosophy as the Boeing 737-600, with a high parts commonality and a shared type rating with larger aircraft in their families. Airbus only delivered 80 aircraft of this model between 2003 and 2013. The A318 can use either the CFM56–5B or the Pratt & Whitney PW6000 family of engines.
The Airbus A318 carries from 107 to 132 passengers and has a range of 3100 nautical miles. Most airlines have retired their A318 fleet by 2022, citing the poor economic performance of the type in the wake of the airline crisis of 2020. The A318 was the largest aircraft to receive certification to fly out of London City Airport.
See also: Airbus vs Boeing Fleet Comparison
The Embraer E190-E2 took this record away from the A318 but lost it to the E195-E2 in July 2022. Between 2009 and 2020, British Airways used the Airbus A318 to run the Club World London City route. The cabin used a layout with 32 business class seats to fly from London City to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York with a fuel stop in Shannon Airport, Ireland.
Embraer and Bombardier had been competing in the regional market since their turboprop days, and it is no surprise that this rivalry carried over into the jet era. The Bombardier CRJ700 and its derivatives challenged the ERJ and the smaller members of the E-Jet series early on. It took the Canadian company until 2010 to produce a serious competitor to the E190.
The CRJ1000 seats 97 to 104 passengers and uses a pair of General Electric CF34-8C5A1 high-bypass turbofan engines. Despite having a limited range at only 1650 nautical miles, Bombardier claims the CRJ1000 has a lower cost per seat than the Embraer E190. Despite that, the Canadian company only sold 63 units of this type before production ended in 2020.
Bombardier hit back with the CSeries. The company traded the T-tail for a conventional empennage and podded engines under the wing. The new airliner uses advanced materials across its structure to keep weight to a minimum, has full fly-by-wire controls, and employs a pair of Pratt & Whitney PW1500G geared turbofan engines.
The CSeries entered service in 2016, but sales only took off after a partnership with Airbus the following year. The airliner became the A220 and secured 762 orders as of July 2022. The A220-100 dealt a blow to the E190, with 100 to 120 passengers. The “Canadian Airbus” can fly out to 3450 nautical miles and, in my opinion, has the most silent and comfortable cabin among short and medium-haul airliners in the market. Embraer reacted to the A220 with the E-Jet E2 series, which has 241 orders. In July 2022, Porter Airlines canceled its 30 A220 order in favor of 50 Embraer E195-E2.
FAQs about Embraer 190
Question: Is the Embraer 190 a good plane?
Answer: Yes. The Embraer E190 is a widespread aircraft with both passengers and airlines. The pilots like the jet for its benign handling characteristics and modern avionics. Passengers enjoy the comfortable seating and roomy cabin, features not seen in most airliners of this class.
Question: How many seats does the Embraer E190 have?
Answer: The Embraer 190 can take up to 96 seats in a dual-class arrangement and 114 in a single class. LOT Polish Airlines flies theirs with 106 seats.
Question: How much does an Embraer E190 cost?
Answer: Embraer sold the original E190 for $51 million in 2004. The upgraded E190-E2 hit the market at $53.6 million in 2013 but rose to $60.8 million in 2018.
Question: Is the Embraer 190 still in production?
Answer: Yes. As of July 2022, Embraer still produced all variants of the E-Jet family except for the E170. The company expects to build the E190 for many more years in its new E190-E2 variant.
Question: Have any E190 crashed?
Answer: Yes. There have been eight E190 hull losses, including two fatal ones. All of these incidents happened due to either human error or environmental factors.
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