* E-Jet overhaul to cost $1.7 billion over eight years
* Company sees demand for 6,400 jets over the next 20 years
By Brad Haynes
PARIS, June 17 Brazilian planemaker Embraer on Monday introduced a bigger and more efficient lineup of commercial jets that will enter service in 2018, pushing deeper into a segment that Canadian rival Bombardier has staked out with its new narrow-body CSeries.
Embraer SA plans to spend $1.7 billion over the next eight years to overhaul its E-Jet lineup with new wings, upgraded avionics and geared turbofan engines from United Technologies Corp unit Pratt & Whitney.
Embraer plans to add three rows of seats to its biggest jet, the E-195, and one row to the E-175. The second generation of E-Jets will not include the smallest current model, the E-170.
The top-selling E-190 will be the first with the next-generation features. Details of the lineup are expected at a Paris Airshow press conference later on Monday.
The more efficient engines could help Embraer hold its recent lead in the 70-to-120-seat market, fending off new challengers like Japan's Mitsubishi Regional Jet while keeping pressure on Bombardier Inc.
The big question is whether Embraer, the world's third-largest commercial planemaker, has the orders to launch its new lineup with a splash.
The company forecast demand for 6,400 commercial jets seating up to 130 passengers over the next 20 years. Embraer's 1,200 E-Jet orders to date have given it 42 percent market share in the segment.
Industry leaders Airbus and Boeing Co have generated orders in the past two years with their narrow-body aircraft, raising the bar for fuel efficiency.
Bombardier, which has competed for decades with Embraer in the smaller regional jet segment, is aiming its 110-to-130-seat CSeries at the lower end of the narrow-body market, but has booked just 177 firm orders.
The new version of Embraer's biggest commercial jet, the E-195, would seat 118 passengers in its dual-class format, squarely in the middle of the CSeries lineup.