LE BOURGET - Embraer's launch Monday of a new family of regional jets at the Paris Air Show hit the ground running with 100 firm orders and 215 intentions to buy the aircraft.

The world's third largest commercial aircraft maker has decided to modernize its current, popular fleet of E-Jets after abandoning an initial idea of launching a completely new, bigger regional plane.

Baptized the E-Jets E2, the new family is made up of three planes that will enter into service from 2018. They are able to take more passengers than the current generation of E-Jets and will be more fuel efficient, the firm said.

U.S. regional airline SkyWest was by far the largest customer, announcing firm orders of 100 E175-E2 planes - with some 78 seats - with the intent of buying 100 more in a deal worth $9.36 billion at catalogue prices.

U.S. leasing company ILFC also signed a provisional order for 25 E190-E2 planes and 25 E195-E2 aircraft that can carry up to 144 passengers. This deal, due to be finalized soon, also comes with an option for 50 other planes.

Other unnamed airlines from different continents such as Africa, Asia, Europe and South America are also in talks to buy 65 of the new, modernized jets.

"It's a significant order. The E-Jet has been very successful but its order intake was beginning to slow down," said Nick Cunningham, an aviation analyst at the London-based Agency Partners.

The regional jet market has fared less well recently than that of large commercial planes, Cunningham said, pointing to strong demand for the latter from emerging markets only just starting to build up their airline market.

But despite this, Embraer has still done well.

"It's been very well run, is good at accessing global technologies and it's been willing to use specialists from around the world to achieve its needs," he said.

Unlike other plane makers or airlines in emerging markets such as China and Indonesia, Embraer is not a state project but a full-on commercial company, he added.

The Brazilian firm said Monday it foresaw a demand for 6,400 commercial jets with capacity of up to 130 seats over the next 20 years.

The Paris Air Show - the world's largest - kicked off Monday with a slew of order announcements by Boeing and Airbus, the two rivals that traditionally vie for supremacy at the key industry event.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013