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Route to Norway

Norwegian carrier Widerøe pulled out all the stops to welcome the first Embraer E2 regional jet to enter airline service. Alan Dron was on the final leg of the delivery flight from Aberdeen to Bergen

After a delivery flight of more than 10,000km from São José dos Campos in Brazil, the first Embraer E190 E2 descended out of a clear blue April sky into Bergen’s Flesland Airport and a welcome from hundreds of the airline’s staff and invited guests as the Norwegian carrier marked the start of a new chapter in its 84 year history.


Its arrival marked the end of a flight that stretched over four days and took in Recife, on the northeast coast of Brazil, Las Palmas in the Canaries, Aberdeen in Scotland, then an hour long final hop over the grey waters of the North Sea to Bergen.


Embraer and Widerøe officials noted that fuel burn on the 3,400km sector from Las Palmas to Aberdeen was so low that the jet did not require refuelling for the final leg to Norway.


“Widerøe was an obvious and easy choice for us to become the launch customer,” said Martyn Holmes, Vice President Europe, Russia, Central Asia and Leasing, Embraer Commercial Aviation. “We share the same values and we both love a challenge. When deciding on a launch customer, Widerøe was our choice and they were delighted to accept the challenge. Widerøe are known for their technical skills, they have been flying in the most demanding conditions on the planet for 84 years. They have tremendous technical and operational experience.”


The two companies worked together for more than a year prior to the handover, to ensure more than 600 ‘deliverables’ were in place.

“We did the usual training for pilots and mechanics in Brazil,” added Holmes. “A group of mechanics were in Brazil for around six weeks for type training and certification. We also had several groups of pilots visit Brazil for type training.


“In addition, an E2 prototype visited Norway for two weeks of intensive training with mechanics, cabin crew, ground crew and pilots.” Embraer President Paulo Cesar Silva formally handed over the aircraft to Widerøe’s CEO, Stein Nilsen, at a ceremony at the São José dos Campos manufacturing facility on 4 April. Representatives from E2 supplier companies, government officials, VIPs and the media joined nearly 1,000 Embraer employees at the outdoor event. Two employees from Embraer’s E2 production line, Ricardo Tadeu Costa and Bruna Marcelino Rosa, presented Nilsen with a ceremonial key to the aircraft.


The handover came five weeks after three regulatory authorities – Brazil’s ANAC, the FAA and EASA – granted type certification to the new-generation regional jet. Embraer noted that it was the first time that an aircraft programme with the level of complexity of the E2 had received a type certificate from three major certification authorities simultaneously.


Widerøe, Norway’s largest regional carrier, carries about 2.8 million passengers annually and flies to 46 domestic and international destinations. It operates more than 450 flights every day and its network consists of 60% commercial routes, plus 40% PSO [public service obligation] sectors.


The carrier has been true to the turboprop for many years. Its fleet is based on 41 examples of Bombardier’s Dash 8, ranging from the 39-seat Dash 8-100 to the latest 78-seat Q400, so what was the rationale for moving to a jet? Widerøe intends to use its E2s on longer routes, where its speed and capacity make most sense, says Nilsen.

This is particularly important as the airline is beginning to move out of its traditional fiefdom, in the shape of charter flights to the Mediterranean.


“Our heart is in Norway, but the main reason for stepping up into this class of aircraft is that we’re flying some very long sectors,” explains Nilsen. Getting the necessary economies of scale on these routes requires the airline to move up one size class, from the 78 seats of the Q400 to the 100-plus of the E2. At the same time, however, those routes are not sufficiently ‘thick’ to allow the economic use of Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 family aircraft. >>


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