ON BOARD: Helvetic Airways E195-E2

The last on the bucket list of the leaders in modernization of narrow-body fleets. After the tried-and-tested Boeing 737MAX and Airbus A220 planes, it was the turn of Embraer’s trump card – the E2 family.

We had the opportunity to visit the aircraft at the Paris Air Show 2023, where in addition to the invitation to tour the aircraft, we also received a presentation on performance, orders, reliability, etc. What should be emphasized at the beginning is that the conditions in which the aircraft are exhibited at the Air Show are laboratory , that is, the exhibitors can present the aircraft much better than is perhaps usually the case. Nevertheless, I must make an observation right at the beginning of the article that readers will either love or hate me for – In passenger experience, the E2 is the weakest of the three Musketeers – the A220, the MAX and the E2. From the technical side, definitely not, I am only commenting the passenger experience as such.

Aircraft information:
Registration: HB-AZK
Serial number: 20058
Type: 195-E2
Date of first flight: 24.06.2021.
Test registration: PR-EDE
Age of the aircraft: 2.2 years
Cabin configuration: Y134
Hex code: 4B0294

The first impression we got upon entering the cabin is a feeling of crampedness. Compared to competitors (A220 and MAX), the cabin is lower, the luggage compartments are smaller, the windows are smaller, and thus less daylight enters the cabin. Nevertheless, the entrance itself next to door 1L is spacious, and the imitation of wooden floor gives a premium touch to the entrance area. What is better compared to competitors are the seats. We got the feeling that they are a bit more comfortable, and what is certainly more practical is that the seats are supported on only two “legs” by the aisle and the window, which means that there is no seat leg in the middle that would interfere with the luggage. In addition, you can stretch your legs diagonally, so you get the feeling that there is more space for your legs.

For some passengers, the advantage may be that the cabin is in a 2-2 configuration, that is, there is no middle seat.

After leaving the cabin, I decided to talk to the Helvetic pilot, who invited us to look around the cockpit. The “bike yoke” is, in my opinion, the most endearing feature of Embraer aircraft and something that makes them unique. The cockpit is neat and tidy, the new and larger monitors compared to the E1 are more visible, and can also be adjusted to the pilot’s personal preferences (except the part for the PFD). And, what Helvetic captain jokingly pointed out as the biggest advantage over the A220 – the side windows can open!

After viewing the cabin, we toured the outside of the aircraft. The engins, the very thing that some people don’t like about this plane, actually make its presence at the stand look very powerful. Pratt & Whitney GTF family of engines used by the E2 family of aircraft are also shared by the A220, A320neo, and even the Russian Irkut. Personally, I would reject the statements that these engines are unreliable because, following that analogy, all the planes that have them would be problematic. Pratt & Whitney emphasizes that the reliability of the engine is 99.98%, and that with more than 10,000 orders, the time of technical maturity of the engine comes twice as fast compared to the V2500 engine. And let’s also not forget that CFM Leap also has certain “problems”.

In conclusion, I am under the impression that among the competitors, Embraer offers a cabin product of a regional aircraft, compared to the A220 and MAX, which nevertheless offer a slightly better cabin. However, the cabin product is only one, and in my opinion, the less important factor in the quality of the aircraft. In addition, it is no secret that sales of E2 are not going very well, so the company guarantees fast deliveries, not counted in years as with some competitors, but in months.

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