Duxford Aviation Society header British Airliner Collection header British Military Vehicles Collection header

And in third place …


Embraer, Southern Hemisphere giant

Added by Keith Bradshaw on 07 October 2022

< More news

Brazil is one of the most popular locations for supporters of our Facebook page, so to all those Brazilians who follow us Ola! and welcome to this story about the world’s third largest aircraft manufacturer, Brazilian company Embraer.

The Bandeirante or ‘Bandit’ as it was fondly known was flown by a number of airlines in the UK including Willow Air an example of which is seen here at Southend. Photo: keith Bradshaw

In 1969 the Brazilian government founded Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica (Embraer) as a state run aircraft manufacturer. The company went on to produce, military, agricultural, executive and commercial aircraft. The first aircraft to be produced was the EMB-110 Bandeirante a twin engine turboprop,18-seat airliner. Designed by Frenchman Max Holste the aeroplane was built to fulfil the needs of both civilian and military users but it was the Brazilian Air Force who placed the first order and deliveries began in 1973. Some Brazilian airlines also ordered the plane but it was not until 1975 that a sale was made abroad. Around 500 examples of the little turboprop would be built when production ended in 1990 and around 100 or so are still in service around the world today. During the 1970s and early 80s military aircraft like the AT-26 Xavante, a licence-built Italian MB326 jet trainer and the building of 624 EMB-312 turboprop Tucano trainers (which was also licence-built by Shorts for the RAF) took up most of  Embraer’s production space.

French Navy EMB-121 Xingu. The French Air Force also used the type and are believed to have around 23 Xingus still in service. Photo: Keith Bradshaw

In 1976 the first flight of the EMB-121 Xingu took place. This aeroplane used the same wing and engines from the earlier Bandeirante mated to a new, smaller fuselage. 106 examples would be built many for export, with the French Air Force and Navy being big customers. It had been planned that the Xingu would be part of a family of aeroplanes but things changed and the next aircraft built was a completely new design - the 30-seater regional turboprop EMB-120 Brasilia. The new design attracted interest from around the world particularly from the USA as its speed and ceiling made it an ideal aircraft for regional routes serving the airline’s main hubs.

An EMB-120 Brasilia of Canadian Airlines at Vancouver. The Brasilia was much used by North American airlines for their commuter routes. Photo: Keith Bradshaw

Most Brasilia sales were made in the US but a few came to Europe operating in France, Belgium and Germany. A small number went to the Brazilian, Uruguayan and Angolan air forces. Some of the retired civil airliners have since been converted into small freighters. There are now less than 100 Brasilias still in service worldwide.

With its airliner life over, this Brasilia is now flying as a cargo plane. Photo: Ken Fielding Flickr.com/photos/ken fielding.

The Brazilian government was finding it hard to continue to finance Embraer and in December 1994 the company was privatised. It was also in the mid-1990s that the company decided to concentrate more on the commercial side of things rather than military aircraft and started building 70-100 seat regional airliners and business jets. 1995 saw a stretched jet powered version of the Brasilia called the ERJ-145 take to the skies. This would be the first of the ERJ (Embraer Regional Jets) family which would include the Legacy business jet and the military R-99. The main ERJ family consisted of three versions, the ERJ-135, with 37 passengers, the ERJ-140, with 44 passengers and the largest ERJ-145, with 50 passengers. The type was in direct competition in the regional jet market with Canadair and their CRJ-100/200 family.

Several UK airlines including British Midland operated the ERJ family of jets. This is an ERJ-135, the smallest of the family with a capacity for up to 37 passengers. Photo: Keith Bradshaw

Embraer built the smaller ERJ-140 version to fit in with some American airlines who had an agreement with the unions not to allow their affiliate airlines to operate aircraft with capacities of 50 or above. Production would also be carried out under licence in China. When production ended in 2020, 1,231 examples of all types had been built. The first delivery was in 1986 to US airline ExpressJet who operated on behalf of Continental Airlines. Many of the major US airlines had their subsidiary companies flying the ERJ including United Airlines who in 2021 saw United Express still flying a fleet of 165 ERJ-145s operated on the airline’s behalf by Commute Air.

American Eagle flew feeder flights for American Airlines using a fleet of ERJ-140 aircraft. This fleet accounted for the bulk of ERJ-140 production. By 2020 all had been retired. Photo: Aero Icarus CCA-2

All the ERJ family were powered by versions of the Rolls Royce AE3007 engine with any power differences being arranged by tweaking the programming of the FADEC ( Full Authority Digital Engine Control). The various versions of the family can also be flown under the same pilot’s rating which is good news for airlines operating a variety of variants.

One of the strangest looking versions of the ERJ-145 is the military R-99 AEWC (Airborne Early Warning and Control) version. This is a Brazilian Air Force operated example but others are in service with the Greek and Indian Air Forces. Photo: Tim Felce CCA-2

 With the ERJ family being such a commercial success Embraer were keen to develop the design further, however it became apparent that to increase the seating above 50 would need a wider fuselage to accommodate four abreast seating as opposed to the ERJ’s three abreast. Therefore a new design was conceived which would become the ‘E-Jet ‘ family. This new range of jets would cover the 66-124-seat market with a range of fuselage lengths. First flying as the E-170 in February 2002, Polish airline LOT would be the first to put the new jet into service when they received their first examples in 2004. The E-170 could carry up to 78 passengers.

LOT were the first to put the new E-Jet into service when they began operating their first E-170 in 2004. Photo: Adrian Pingstone public domain

In talks with airlines it was obvious to Embraer that a larger E-Jet would be well received so the E-170 was stretched to make way for 76-88 passengers and named the E-175 The first E-175 deliveries would be to Air Canada in 2005. In 2013 an E-175 delivered to American Eagle marked the 1000th E-Jet delivered. Alongside the development of the E-175, Embraer also planned an even longer aircraft but with a new wing and engines. These would become the E-190/195 carrying 96-114 passengers on the E-190 and 100-124 on the big brother E-195 version, both flying for the first time in 2004. 

As the launch customer Flybe operated a fleet of Embraer E-195s Photo: Tim Felce wolfhound   CCA-2

British airline Flybe would be the launch customer for the larger E-195 with an order for 14 with an additional 12 options. They commenced operations with the Brazilian jet in September 2006 but when they ran into financial difficulties the E-195s were the first aircraft to leave the company who concentrated its operations on the turboprop Bombardier Q400. As of June 2022 Embraer’s order book for the E-Jet stood at 1,779. Embraer also offered the Lineage 1000 business jet based on the E-170 seating 19 passengers it has a range of 4,200 miles.

The mid-cabin of a Lineage 1000 business jet. Photo: jetrequest.com CCA-3

The largest operator of the E-Jet is US based Republic who have a fleet of 212 that they operate on behalf of the mainstream US airlines. Having earlier taken the ERJ series head to head with Bombardier with their CRJ range, when the Canadian company launched its new design C-Series range (now the big selling Airbus A220) Embraer decided to once again take the fight to Bombardier and came up with a new development of the E-Jet range. The smallest E-170 variant was dropped and the other three versions all gained new wings, new fly-by-wire controls, new Pratt & Whitney engines and other improvements all of which gave a better fuel consumption than the earlier jets. The range was known as the E175-E2, E190-E2 and the E195-E2 the E2 standing for second evolution. The first aircraft to fly was an E190-E2 which first took to the sky in May 2016.

The E195-E2 prototype at the Paris air show in 2019. Photo: Matti Bloom CCA-4

The first E2 jet was delivered to Norwegian carrier Wideroe in April 2018 fitted with 114 seats in a single class layout. After a year of E2 operations Wideroe claimed a despatch reliability figure for the aeroplane of 98.5%. The smallest of the family, the E175-E2, first flew in 2019 but as of yet there are no orders for this version. The E190-E2 has gained 20 orders but the largest version the E195-E2 is a runaway success with 221 orders of which 38 have been delivered as of June this year.

Azul airlines of Brazil were the launch customer for the E195-E2 gaining their first 136 seat aircraft in September 2019. Photo: Alexandro Dias CCA-4

In July 2022 an E195-E2 landed at London City airport making it the largest aircraft ever to land there. At the time of writing KLM City Hopper have the largest fleet of E195-E2s in service with their fleet of 12 aircraft.

All of the above mainly covers the commercial side of Embraer’s production but as was said at the beginning of this article they also make a number of other aircraft including for the military and business jet market. One of their most recent designs is the C-390 medium size military transport. The first of 28 were delivered to the Brazilian Air Force in 2019 with orders for the Hercules-sized jet also coming in from Hungary, the Netherlands and Portugal. The C-390 is the heaviest aircraft ever made by Embraer. The aircraft is powered by two IAE V2500 engines the same type of engine found fitted to many of the Airbus A320 family of airliners.

An Embraer C-390 destined for the Brazilian Air Force. Photo: Matti Bloom CCA-4

However as the British Airliner Collection, it’s mainly airliners we are interested in and many of Embraer’s designs have been flown by British airlines so let’s finish with pictures of a couple.

An Embraer E-170 of British Airways franchise operator City Flyer at Amsterdam in 2013.This aeroplane has since been sold and is now operated in the USA by Envoy airlines.  Photo: Aero Icarus CCA-2
Embraer’s first airliner was the EMB-110 Bandeirante. Photo: Eduard Marmet GNU free 1.2

To wrap up, as this article has shown Embraer may be the third largest aircraft manufacturer after Airbus and Boeing, but they certainly haven’t put all their eggs in one basket and with planned developments based on the E-series their future outlook looks bright.


‘till the next time   Keith




Registered Charity No. 285809