This package, which builds on updates developed for the larger E-190/195 family, is already incorporated in new aircraft delivered from January 2013.
A second fuel burn reduction package, based on further aerodynamic clean-ups of the auxiliary power unit inlet and anti-collision beacon as well as an all-new wingtip, will begin flight tests in the second quarter. The new wingtip extends overall span by around 9 ft. to 94 ft. 2 in., and replaces the existing vertical winglet. The larger tip, which is angled with a dihedral of 45 deg., imposes added bending load to the wing and is therefore accompanied by local strengthening to the wing box, skins and stub wing where the unit attaches to the fuselage.
The added low-drag features will be incorporated from 2014 onward, as will the first new wingtips, which enter service that year on the E-175. The extended tip follows on the E-190 and E-170 in 2015 and in 2016 on the E-195.
“The design has been evaluated in the wind tunnel at transonic and subsonic conditions which validated computational fluid dynamics simulations. We’ve also evaluated all the low-speed characteristics, and the wind tunnel tests have given us a high degree of confidence that the flight tests will confirm these results,” says Camelier.
Combined, all the updates are expected to give a 5% fuel burn benefit to the E-170 based on a 600 nm flight, while the biggest beneficiary is expected to be the E-175, which could see fuel burn improve by as much as 5.5%. As the E-190 and E-195 already have some of the drag reduction features, these will see improvements of 3.5% and 4%, respectively.
The updates also include a series of systems and avionics upgrades to lower maintenance costs, improve reliability and optimize navigation performance. They include longer-life LED external lights, and a revised maintenance plan that extends the basic check interval from 6,000 flight hours to 7,500. The extension is “based on data from experience over about 10 years, and saves the equivalent of one basic check per aircraft over around that period” says Commercial Aviation Programs VP Leandro Laia.
To further reduce operating costs, Embraer’s upgrade plan also includes installation of a prognostic health management system to monitor equipment and anticipate failures or malfunctions. “The idea is to transform an unscheduled maintenance event into a planned maintenance event with less downtime and less interruption to the flight schedule,” says Camelier, who adds that the system will be available from December 2014.
The following year, Embraer also plans to introduce a scheduled structural health monitoring (SHM) system that involves the installation of fatigue and corrosion sensors in hard-to-access areas of the airframe around the aft doors. “To conduct a visual structural inspection you have to remove the galleys, lavatory, seats, liners and so on, but with the SHM you have electronic sensors that provide the data,” says Camelier. Embraer estimates the SHM will reduce the time for inspections by 128 worker hours.
Larger overhead bins in the cabin and a wireless inflight entertainment system also are due to be introduced from 2015.