As part of their international route expansion using Embraer’s E190-E2 next-generation aircraft, Widerøe opened a route from Bergen to Hamburg on Tuesday. Widerøe is the launch customer of the Embraer E2 with three of the planes in operation in addition to their fleet of more than forty Dash 8 aircraft in all variants. Aeronautics Online was on board the first flight to celebrate the new service and to test the second generation of the successful Brazilian regional jet.
As is usual for inaugural flight events, a cake dedicated to the destination was presented in the boarding area. A rich buffet treated all passengers with free orange juice, tea and coffee, chocolates, muffins, and German pastry specialties. A board behind the buffet showed all of Wideroe’s recent international network additions, including Liverpool, Munich, Hamburg, Gothenburg, and Billund. Before boarding the director of Bergen Airport gave a short speech in which he praised the comfort and efficiency of the Embraer 190-E2 aircraft, while a representative for the German Tourism Board in Norway pointed out the touristic potential of the new route for visitors to both Bergen and Hamburg.
Flight WF208 boarded at gate E32 in the international departures section via a jet bridge and I promptly took my seat 21F behind the wing. The flight was approximately half full. The plane is equipped with 114 standard Economy Class seats that offer ample legroom. The aircraft seems even more spacious than the first generation E190 aircraft, although that aircraft is already a leader in terms of passenger comfort compared to similarly sized aircraft such as Bombardier’s CRJ aircraft families or the Russian Sukhoi SuperJet.
The flight was operated by LN-WEC, the airline’s latest E190-E2 jet, which was delivered in June 2018. We were pushed back, the Pratt & Whitney PW1900G engines were started, and, before the scenic taxi to runway 17, the airport’s fire brigade gave the plane a water cannon salute to celebrate the route opening.
The PW 1000 engine family is used not only for the Embraer E2 series but is also equipped on the A320neo and other aircraft. The engine has a distinctive feature that can easily be seen from the front — the neon green stripe in front of the fan blades. The noise reduction for the engines was impressive, as promised by the manufacturer; one could barely distinguish their sound even during the take-off run. The only notable noise was the whirring of the air conditioning. Following a steep climb, we reached the E2’s service ceiling at FL 410 (41,000 feet) in less than twenty minutes.
Another aspect of passenger experience which Embraer has improved on its new plane is the window alignment. Now, the windows are located right next to the passenger’s head, while on most seats on the previous generation’s aircraft guests would have to bend forward quite far to be able to look out of the window.
Widerøe offers an onboard service similar to its former parent company SAS on European flights with free hot beverages and chocolate being served by the crew.
The front rows are normally reserved for Flex Class passengers who have a free choice from the in-flight menu as well as other benefits such as lounge access, flexibility options, and a higher baggage allowance. I was graciously permitted to take a seat in the front part of the cabin for the rest of the flight to take a few pictures.
The flight time of a bit more than one hour passed by quickly, and we started our descent to Hamburg after the sun had already set. Despite a delayed departure, we landed on time. In addition to the inauguration of Widerøe’s route from Bergen, this was also the first ever landing of an Embraer E2 jet at Hamburg Airport. The plane was greeted by another water salute and taxied to its parking position at gate 07, the closest gate to the arrival hall.
Before disembarking, I had the opportunity to take a couple of pictures of the stylish dark grey cabin and the modern flight deck, which includes four large screens. Embraer has equipped its new flagship with a completely new fly-by-wire system which helps to reduce fuel emissions and to offer the occupants a ride as smooth as possible.
All in all, the Embraer 190-E2 aircraft is very pleasant to fly from a passenger’s perspective in terms of comfort and noise, and one should hope that Widerøe, which until not long ago solely operated Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft on regional routes within Scandinavia, will exercise their options to purchase additional E2s and open many more routes between Central Europe and the airline’s gateways to Norway.
Aeronautics would like to thank Widerøe for the opportunity to take part in this flight and the crew on the ground and in the air for the lovely experience.
All images by Alexander Stahl / Aeronautics Online