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It still hasn’t officially launched its turboprop, but Embraer is close to selecting the engine manufacturer for its promising next aircraft.

After Boeing and Airbus, Embraer is now the third largest aircraft manufacturer out there. It is also the only manufacturer among these three that plans to introduce a new aircraft type soon. And with the industry putting an increasing emphasis on emissions, Embraer is planning a return to its turboprop airliner routes.

Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante. Photo: Freon1978

The manufacturer has been thinking of such an aircraft for some time. The Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante turboprop with its twin PT6A-34 engine layout was its first commercial aircraft. The pressurized EMB-120 Brasilia superseded it much later, also enjoying substantial success. But the manufacturer later shifted its focus to the faster jet-engined aircraft that we know today.

In 2017, when Embraer first started thinking of a new turboprop, its outlook was different. The manufacturer hasn’t been profitable for some years. Interestingly, a pandemic-era demand for corporate aircraft gave the company an important source of income. This was just after Boeing finally called off plans to absorb the company.

Embraer Will Soon Select Turboprop Engine Partner

The first illustrations had the engines on the wing. Photo: Embraer

During the Farnborough Airshow, the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer said that it plans to select an engine manufacturer in the fourth quarter of this year. This will then allow Embraer and its engine partner to launch the turboprop aircraft project formally, in mid-2023. As we’ve seen, the aircraft has a rather unusual configuration.

 

Embraer Turboprop – An Unusual Engine Placement

Embraer has sold a lot of aircraft with rear-mounted engines. But those were turbofans, not turboprops. Embraer is trying to tackle the noise that a lot of passengers associate with the turboprop engine. But it’s not that simple. Embraer is also trying to create some synergy with its longer-term projects, that could use hydrogen, hybrid-electric or battery-electric propulsion. That is still a new project, but one using a similar layout.

Embraer’s four “Energia” concept variants. Image: Embraer

When Embraer first released illustrations of its future turboprop, the engine nacelles and propellers were a bit… vague. Initially, the manufacturer was reportedly talking to three engine manufacturers: Pratt & Whitney Canada, Rolls-Royce and General Electric. Embraer is now down to two options since GE is not currently offering an engine.

Embraer claims to have letters of intent for “250-plus” turboprop aircraft, from airlines around the world. The company’s management is convinced that there is a demand to support this project. Like Embraer, many feel that there has been too little movement around turboprop aircraft, with equally few (and old) engine options.

Embraer Will Soon Select Turboprop Engine Partner

Image: Embraer

It will be interesting to see which engine manufacturer Embraer chooses for its turboprop. Aircraft like the ATR 42/72 and the Bombardier (now De Havilland) Dash-8, as well as Embraer’s older turboprops, used Pratt & Whitney Canada engines. Rolls-Royce also has a lot of experience with turboprop and turboshaft engines. But Embraer would like newer, more efficient engines for its project.

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