At exactly 1:06 PM local time, the first new-generation E-Jet, an E190-E2, lifted off from runway 15 at São José dos Campos Airport on its maiden flight. The flight occurred just three months after the airplane made its public début at a roll-out ceremony at the factory in late February.
The inaugural flight was originally planned for the second half of this year but was advanced several weeks owing to the high degree of maturity of the E-Jets platform in the E2 development program. That maturity was achieved through the extensive use of digital modeling simulations and ground and static tests that employed rigs and an iron bird.
Several thousand employees gathered under overcast skies to cheer as the jet flew by and climbed for the three-hour and twenty-minute test flight.
The aircraft, carrying registration PR-ZEY, is the first of four E190-E2s that will be used in the certification campaign that is expected to accumulate 2,000 hours of testing. This first airplane is slated to assess flying qualities as well as conduct low-speed envelope-expansion tests. The second E190-E2 will examine engine, takeoff and landing, flutter and high-speed performance while the third will test aircraft systems. Finally, the fourth E190-E2 will be configured with passenger seats in a working cabin.
Embraer Captain Mozart Louzada commanded the airplane along with First Officer Gerson de Oliveira Mendes and Flight Test Engineers Alexandre Figueiredo and Carlos Silveira. The flight evaluated aircraft handling and performance characteristics with the crew analyzing a range of flight envelope parameters, including speed, altitude and landing gear retraction.
So, how did the first E2 perform?
Captain Louzada was particularly impressed with the time to climb. The E190-E2 has PW1900G high-bypass ratio geared turbofan engines that each produce up to 22,000 lb. of thrust. “It took us less than 18 minutes to climb from 20,000 ft. to 41,000 ft., and that was without using maximum available thrust.”
The aircraft attained a maximum altitude of 41,000 ft. and airspeed of Mach 0.82, achieving both MMO and VMO, a first for the maiden flight of any recent test airplane, and flew with the control system in both normal and direct law modes. Captain Louzada also commented on the flying characteristics. “The E190-E2 was even nicer to fly than predicted. Control harmony in rolls, pitch and using the rudder was all very good and, most importantly, was very like the current E-Jets, so we were able to verify that they fly about the same. As an E-Jet pilot, I certainly felt at home in the E2, despite the differences in the flight deck displays and the changes in technology and equipment. “
The E190-E2 is scheduled to enter commercial service in 2018.