We may as well warn you straight away: This article has a pretty high aircraft nerd-factor! But we cannot ignore the fact that – when Wideroe’s first jet aircraft takes off from Bergen Airport Flesland on the 24th of April, it will also be the first of a whole new generation of jet aircraft that is in flight. Andreas Aks, Deputy COO, is the project manager for the phasing in of the jets at Widerøe. He describes the E2 as the plane for generation Z – simply because it is designed for the future:
At the factory of the aircraft manufacturer Embraer in Brazil the first measurements of the new jet aircraft show a fuel reduction of as much as 16 percent compared with today’s jet aircraft of the same size. That produces significantly lower CO2 emissions and NOX emissions. During the search for the best aircraft manufacturer, it was exactly this factor that was an absolute requirement from Widerøe; that the jet aircraft of the future should utilize the latest and greenest technology to reduce the environmental impact. Since Embraer already had an ambition to create the most environmentally-friendly aircraft in its class, the Norwegian airline and the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer were a good match. Now the prototype is in the air, and the solution shows that the goal has been reached.
But how is it possible to achieve a 16 percent reduction in fuel consumption?
But how is the reduction in fuel achieved? Through optimizing all the places where it has been possible to make reductions, of course, but first and foremost from the jet engine: The Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan™ (GTF) engine. On the outside it may look similar to other turbofan engines you’ve seen, but on the inside it’s very different: it’s a geared turbofan engine.
This innovative, high-performance, ultra-quiet engine started powering new aircraft in 2016 after twenty years of development by Pratt & Whitney, one of the world’s three leading makers of aircraft engines. What makes this engine unique is an advanced gearbox that allows the fan to push more air, more quietly, while the rest of the engine speeds up to run more efficiently. This results in an engine that consumes less fuel, generates fewer emissions and produces much less noise. See how the jet engine works here – in this video from the manufacturer.
The calculations from flights with the prototype at the factory in Brazil show that the engine itself alone has contributed to 11 percent reduction in fuel consumption compared with aircraft of the same size.
“We’re proud to provide Widerøe with our game-changing PW1900G Geared Turbofan engines powering its launch fleet of Embraer E190-E2 aircraft,” said Rick Deurloo, senior vice president of sales, marketing and customer support at Pratt & Whitney. “The GTF not only promises exceptional engine performance, but also significant economic and environmental savings, including industry-leading reductions in fuel burn, emissions and aircraft noise. We’re confident that Widerøe will experience these benefits, as well as a corresponding reduction in operating costs, for years to come.”
In an article in the American business and financial magazine Forbes it is stated that the Pratt & Whitney GTF engine halves Co2 emissions and reduces noise by 75 percent. It further states that this is just the beginning: “Further enhancements of the technology will probably reduce fuel consumption by more than 20 percent compared with conventional turbo fan engines, so that the airlines can reduce the consumption of fuel, fly longer routes or have capacity for more passengers.
New design of the aircraft wing
But aerodynamic improvements have also been made to the aircraft model: New design of the aircraft wing and aerodynamic improvements also increases the aircraft’s performance and stands for an additional 3.5 percent of fuel reduction.
Finally,Wideroe’s new jet aircraft is equipped with the fourth generation of the fly-by-wire system. The E2 flight control is an full fly-by-wire which is an evolution from the previous model and allows the removal of cables, pulleys and complex systems responsible to the aircraft control surface, so this also reduce the weight of the aircraft delivering lower fuel burn.
The full fly-by-wire system improves aircraft safety.
– This is a major technological boost for us in Widerøe. This is one of the models in a new generation of aircraft that provides improved user comfort as the flight will be smoother, at the same time as we significantly reduce both CO2 emissions and NOX emissions. It is important for us to make use of technology that reduces our negative impact on a climate faced with ever-increasing challenges, says Andreas Aks, Assistant Operations Director.
Smart aircraft with good sense of reality
The list of E2’s technological refinements does not end with reduced fuel consumption. The AHEAD-PRO maintenance and analysis system is also installed on board that makes it possible to monitor the engine and instruments from the ground. While is in the air, the E2 will be connected with Wideroe’s technical organization, in addition to the fact that both the engine and aircraft manufacturer are online.
With this constant connection, data from each flight can be downloaded directly immediately after the plane has landed. In addition the Embraer solution descriptions are automated, which will simplify the work for mechanics and other operating personnel and, at the same time, reduce maintenance time on the ground. This will also benefit you as a passenger!
This system also makes it possible to schedule preventive maintenance and avoid breakdown. According to Embraer the instrument manages to alert the need for maintenance on average 25 days earlier than the pilots.
– Our goal is that the customer can plan the maintenance of E2 based on the company’s own business model and organization structure. This feature has helped the airlines to reduce the number of stoppages by 12 percent, stated Johann Bordais, CEO of Embraer Services and Support, earlier this autumn.
It will also be interactive in the cabin, where it will be possible to charge mobiles, PCs and tablets at each seat. From 2019 we will also have the technology in place to be able to stream both audio and video directly to mobile devices.
Greater range with jet aircraft
Wideroe’s very first jet will be put into service between Bergen and Northern Norway, but if you had put the compass point in Bergen and made a circle, you would see that Widerøe now gains a completely new range.
With the new jet aircraft Widerøe will have a range of 1,819 nautical miles with a full aircraft and 114 passengers on board. This means that from Bergen, the trip could have gone as far as Algeria in North Africa, to Iraq in the Middle East, or for a distance over the sea west of Greenland. From Tromsø the trip could have gone all the way to Rome.
– This is a very exciting time for us in Widerøe. We have come half-way in a major project and there are many people who work hard in order for us to succeed, says Managing Director Stein Nilsen.
– For Widerøe this effort means new opportunities to further develop the network and our services. A new aircraft provides both new opportunities, and the ability to reinforce the services we can offer in places where we are already established. We will fly more often, faster and with greater comfort on the long-haul flights than we have been able to do previously, points out Managing Director Stein Nilsen in Widerøe.
First airline to put E2 in commercial operation
Wideroe is the first airline in the world to put the Embraer E190-E2 into commercial operation. It is a state of the art aircraft, with seats designed for good leg room, and extra large bins for carry-on luggage. It makes less noise, uses significantly less fuel and is equipped for the passengers of the future who expect to be online all the time.
The first jet aircraft shall fly between Western Norway and North Norway and is the first of a total of three new super aircraft. The journey will take 1 hour and 35 minutes between Bergen and Bodø, and two hours between Bergen and Bodø, a saving of 15 and 20 minutes respectively compared with today.
The next aircraft will be on track in May, and the third at the end of June. New routes between Bergen and Hamburg and München will be operated by E2 from the middle of August 2018.