(Recasts with comments from executives)
SAO PAULO, May 23 (Reuters) - The first re-engined aircraft in Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA’s narrowbody E-Jet family took its first flight on Monday, months ahead of schedule and below the expected weight.
The E190-E2, which enters service in 2018, is the first aircraft in Embraer’s commercial jet line-up with new wings and Pratt & Whitney engines aimed at improving fuel efficiency.
“We are about four or five months ahead of schedule with this flight,” said Paulo Cesar Silva, head of commercial aviation at Embraer, in a telephone interview. “The plane flew marvelously well, showing real maturity.”
The prototype weighed in “a bit below” its projected weight, said Senior Vice President Luis Carlos Affonso, a rare feat at a phase when planemakers are often battling to shave weight.
The first flight lasted more than three hours, while the prototype tested its maximum velocity and altitude, the executives said.
Embraer is also expanding the size and range of its largest commercial jet, the E195, whose next generation enters service in 2019, posing a direct challenge to the new C Series produced by Canadian rival Bombardier Inc. (Reporting by Brad Haynes; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Bernard Orr)