Embraer 190 begins steep approach tests at London City
Preparing the path for Embraer 190 operation at London City Airport (LCY), the manufacturer has begun steep approach trials at the airport. Certification of the aircraft for airline operation is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year, with BA CityFlyer receiving its first E-190 in March 2010.
The aircraft must perform a minimum of 40 takeoffs and landings at LCY to achieve certification. Already more than 50 approaches simulating the 5.5° glideslope of LCY have been performed at Macapá International Airport in northern Brazil, which is at a similar elevation above sea level to London City. “The tests there showed everything to be fine and we don’t expect any surprises in London,” remarked Luis Sergio Chiessi, Embraer’s vice-president, market intelligence.
“The E-Jets steep approach system is an intelligent solution to the problem,” Chiessi commented. “It uses the same basic aircraft controls, but the software enables the fly-by-wire system to deploy the spoilers to create extra drag. Physically, there is one extra button in the cockpit, which tells the system that a steep approach is to be performed.
“When Crossair signed the original order for the Embraer 170, Moritz Suter had it put into the contract that the aircraft had to be able to use London City. At that time, the plan was to have an air brake, but we have, as I said, this intelligent solution. And it has already been certified for LCY on the 170. Also, it is retrofittable, so if airlines operating in Europe with E-170s or E-190s want to operate into London City, they will be able to do so with the aircraft they already have. In fact the software for this steep approach will be part of a bigger software upgrade package that the aircraft will be getting later this year.”
The aircraft arrived at London City on 28 March and by the time of its unveiling at the airport on 31 March, it had performed six takeoffs and landings with a UK CAA pilot at the controls. “The CAA pilot reported that the aircraft was docile and easy to handle,” Chiessi related.
External noise compliance at London City is one of the major reasons for the tests at the airport, Chiessi explained. “The airport has four microphones measuring each takeoff,” he noted, “because noise is very important in London City’s relationship with its neighbours.” Chiessi added that with certification for the steep glideslope being provided by EASA, the aircraft would not need any further certification for other airports with steep approaches which operate under EASA’s jurisdiction. “They would have to do demonstration and qualification flights at each airport though.”
BA CityFlyer will introduce E-Jets to the airport in October 2009 with the first Embraer 170 which will be delivered to the airline in September. “Initially it will be like-for-like replacement of the Avro RJs in the route network,” reported Peter Simpson, managing director, BA CityFlyer.
In fact, the airline has an aggressive programme to bring its 11 firm order aircraft into service, with all six E-170s and five E-190s scheduled to be delivered by August 2010. The airline then has three options and 15 purchase rights for E-Jet family aircraft.
As for other airlines operating E-Jets at LCY, José Luis Molina, Embraer’s new VP airline market, EMEA, said that Baboo, which operates three E-190s, is considering services to the airport as well as another airline which wishes its firm plans to remain undisclosed, but which is receiving aircraft with the steep approach button fitted.
London City Airport’s chief executive, Richard Gooding, paid tribute to British Airways for “putting their money where their mouth is and putting their hands in their pocket to make this happen”. He noted that airlines would now have a wider choice of aircraft that they could operate from the airport. “The BAe 146s and Avro RJs have been tremendous servants to the airport and done sterling work, but it’s time to turn our attention to the future and this is an important waypoint for London City,” he remarked.
Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net