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CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) - The biggest passenger jet ever made by Brazil's Embraer SA (EMBR3.SA) may become its top-selling model, emerging from the shadows of smaller siblings due to extra rows and big wings that have changed its economics, a senior executive told Reuters.
The first generation of the 116-seat E195 was outsold more than three-to-one by the 100-seat E190, but a larger, re-engined version entering service in early 2019 as part of the so-called E2 lineup has attracted another level of interest.
"It's fair to say that the E195 features heavily in almost every conversation about the E2 family," John Slattery, head of Embraer's commercial aviation business, said in an interview late on Monday at the International Air Transport Association's annual meeting. "There's a distinct possibility for the E2 that the E195 outsells the E190."
The possible reversal highlights how three additional rows of seats and longer, sweeping wings have forced many airlines to take a second look at Embraer's biggest airliner, now aimed squarely at rival Bombardier Inc's (BBDb.TO) new CSeries.
For Embraer, the world's third-largest commercial planemaker after Airbus SE (AIR.PA) and Boeing Co (BA.N), the E195 is the biggest change in its E2 lineup, which has focused on its core regional aviation market as Bombardier picks bigger fights.
While Bombardier sells larger CSeries aircraft against the lower end of the narrowbody families built by Boeing and Airbus, Embraer has said it has no plans for passenger jets larger than the new E195.
Bombardier's CSeries offers unparalleled range for an aircraft of its size, but even that advantage has shrunk as a new engine boosts the range of the E195 by some 600 miles (966 km) from the first generation.
Last week Embraer extended the range of the E195-E2 to 2,600 miles from a previous estimate of 2,450 miles on better-than-expected aerodynamics of a prototype that started flying in March. Bombardier's CS100 has a maximum range of 3,100 miles.
The CSeries also boasts roomier cabins in a five-abreast layout, compared with Embraer's two-and-two seating.
However, Slattery said the real selling point of the new E195 is an operating cost that rivals Airbus and Boeing narrowbodies on a per-seat basis while costing about 20 percent less per trip. Extra seats and skinny wings have made the new aircraft a "profit hunter," he said.
Editing by Matthew Lewis