Reducing fuel consumption is often achieved through major changes to the aircraft. The engineers at Embraer found a cost-effective way to re-sculpt an existing aircraft model to achieve its efficiency potential without compromising the original handling.
The E175 fuel burn improvements package project consisted of a combination of aerodynamic improvements within a challenging time frame that reduced fuel consumption for the commercial aircraft model by 6.4% in a typical flight. These improvements include new wingtips, systems optimisation and streamlining of aerodynamic surfaces.
The project had the direct participation of more than 600 people, with experts at Embraer as well as major contributions from ten suppliers located in the USA, Europe and Japan. The majority of the company departments got involved, from market intelligence, engineering and flight tests up to sustainability and customer support.
The project had two phases. The first phase devised a package of modifications that resulted in 1: horizontal tail gaps and 2: rain deflector adjustments, 3: environmental control system and anti-ice optimisation; and 4: wheel fairing and 5: RAM air door development.
The second phase involved more aerodynamic improvements such as 6: tail cone inlet modification and 7: red beacon optimisation. 8: a new wingtip was also a part of this package and turned out to be the main contributor for the fuel burn gains as well as the main challenge for the engineers.
The project had an important premise to follow – the modifications incorporated had to preserve the aircraft handling. This target was accomplished, allowing the changes to be brought in by airlines without any pilot re-training or additional costs.