Air Astana has formally presented its first E190-E2 jet in a ceremony held today at its Astana home base. Kazakhstan’s national carrier has thus become first operator of Embraer’s re-engined E-Jet-E2 in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The aircraft is configured with 12 seats in business- and 96 in economy-class.
The delivery marks the beginning of Air Astana’s short/medium-haul fleet renewal programme. Currently the airline operates a fleet of E190 aircraft, the first of which was delivered in 2011.
With lease agreements of some of its nine first-generation E190s due to expire in 12 months, the airline will receive four more -E2s next year, with the last of the five aircraft, leased by AerCap, being delivered in the final quarter of 2019. The Kazakhstan airline will start flying the new aircraft on domestic and CIS routes next week.
“All of us at Air Astana are pleased to receive our first E190-E2, and we look forward to a smooth entry into service and a simple transition for our pilots,” says Peter Foster, president of Air Astana.
Air Astana’s first E190-E2 (tail number P4-KHA) features a snow leopard livery, designed and hand-painted by Embraer in its ‘Profit Hunter’ style. Air Astana’s snow leopard joins the now famous Eagle, Tiger, and Shark E2s with the distinctive ‘Profit Hunter’ nose art. For Air Astana however, the paint scheme is designed to draw global attention to the threat of extinction faced by the wild cat. The snow leopard is also an official symbol of Kazakhstan and is native to the country’s southern mountain ranges.
Foster acknowledges: “The snow leopard embodies the resilience and ambition of our nation, and we all strive to save these magnificent creatures from extinction and for posterity.”
John Slattery, president and chief executive of Embraer Commercial Aviation, adds: “We are honoured to deliver our most advanced commercial aircraft to our good friends at Air Astana. For a manufacturer, there is no better reward than to see a customer’s business continuously growing with our products.”
Compared to the first-generation E190, the -E2 burns 17.3 per cent less fuel, Embraer claims. The E190-E2 also offers a maximum range of up to 5,300 km, some 1,000 km more than the first-generation version. As a result Foster said the new aircraft will allow Air Astana to fly to destinations that are about 5.5 hours away, such as Eastern Europe or some points in China, opening up new routes.
According to the Brazilian manufacturer, the E190-E2 also generates savings for airlines in terms of its maintenance costs, with a reduction of up to 25 per cent projected. It requires maintenance intervals of 10,000 flight hours for basic checks and no calendar limit in typical E-Jets utilisation.
Another bonus is that pilots of the first-generation E-Jets require only two-and-a-half days of additional training without the need for a full flight simulator to fly the E2 whose cockpit features advanced Honeywell Primus Epic 2 integrated avionics. Combined with the closed-loop, fly-by-wire controls, the systems work together to improve aircraft performance, decrease pilot workload, whilst enhancing flight safety.
Today, Embraer has 70 E-Jet customers in 50 countries. The company has logged almost 1,800 orders and 1,400 deliveries for the E-Jets programme.
Air Astana, a member of IATA, operates flights to more than 60 domestic and international routes from its Astana and Almaty hubs. The airline commenced operations in May 2002 and now flies an all-western fleet of 34 leased and owned aircraft, including Boeing 767-300ERs, Boeing 757-200s, Airbus A320s, A320neos and Embraer 190s.
Air Astana is a joint venture between Kazakhstan’s national wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna (51 per cent) and BAE Systems PLC (49per cent).
By Artyom Korenyako, Astana, Kazakhstan
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