Project Management

Jet Setters: Brazil's Embraer soars on next-gen jets in record time

Sarah Fister Gale, and PM Network

Like any leading aerospace company, Embraer is driven by a mission to aim higher. The company ranks as one of the world’s largest commercial jet manufacturers, but with newer, more fuel-efficient engines threatening to make its topselling aircraft obsolete, Embraer launched a project to roll out a new family of airplanes—and fast.

Started in 2013, the US$1.7 billion E2 program was designed to reimagine the company’s signature E-Jets, delivering a next-gen jet for regional airlines around the world. Compared to the existing E1 series, the new jets would have more powerful engines, more aerodynamic wing architecture, state-of-the-art flight controls and improved interiors with a focus on delivering a benchmark customer experience.

But the team had to deliver the new jets in record time. Embraer project leaders set an ambitious goal to hand over the first model, the E190-E2, to its launch customer in just five years—at least two years faster than any other jet of its generation. If the team could pull it off, the E2 program promised to help regional airlines around the world increase their margins by spending less on fuel costs and attract more passengers. But there were massive risks for Embraer.

"It needed to be ready on time, because, imagine that when you are late by one year, …

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