The Farnborough International Exhibition and Flying Display air show, one of the premier events in the aviation industry, runs this week, and aerospace giants Boeing
Keeping a much lower profile, Brazilian airplane maker Embraer
The 170 is a member of Embraer's latest and largest class of aircraft that includes three other designs, with the biggest model having capacity for 110 passengers. The new family is targeted at what the airplane maker calls the "70 to 110 seat gap." Embraer asserts that in some markets, airlines are using aircraft that are either too big or too small to remain competitive, and that carriers need to "rightsize" capacity to optimize profitability. In addition, the firm says one-third of the jet fleet offering seating for between 61 and 120 passengers is more than 20 years old and due for replacement.
For new or small airlines and regional outfits looking to expand, Embraer's points seem to make sense. Its new jets share 89% of their components, so they should be attractive for buyers hoping to keep maintenance costs reasonable as they buy into progressively larger airplanes. It's also hard to dispute that older jets will need to be replaced.
Embraer's logic may not follow in all cases, though. Suggesting that larger operators need to diversify their fleets to stay competitive seems to fly in the face of a strategy that has helped discount carriers achieve success. Southwest Airlines
Still, the Brazilian outfit has its proponents. JetBlue
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Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer in Chicago. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.