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7/04/1997: First Flight of the ERJ-135

DALLAS – Today, in 1997, the Embraer ERJ-135 made its maiden flight. The 37-seat passenger airliner is the smallest aircraft in the Brazilian manufacturer’s Regional Jet (ERJ) family.

Embraer’s ERJ family came about in the early 1990s. The plane-maker identified a shift in regional air travel, away from turboprops and towards jet-powered aircraft. This led to the launch of the ERJ-145 which took to the skies on August 11, 1995.

In an attempt to further satisfy customer needs, Embraer then looked at shortening the ERJ-145. There was a demand for an aircraft that carried fewer than 40 passengers to serve lower density routes.

The ERJ-135 under construction. Photo: SDASM Archives, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons

Smaller Sibling

And so the 11.6ft shorter, ERJ-135 was born. Powered by two rear-mounted Rolls-Royce AE 3007A3 turbofan engines, the jet has a range of 1,750 nmi (3,240 km), with a Max Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 20,000 kg (44,092 lb).

The aircraft shares 96% parts and systems commonality as the ERJ-145. This also allowed for a common type rating for pilots across the aircraft family.

Since many of the ERJ-135s flying characteristics were the same as its larger sibling, flight testing was concluded ahead of schedule in May 1999. Type certification was then quickly granted by Brazilian, European, and United States aviation authorities.

Service entry quickly followed with Continental Express and American Eagle (AA) in July 1999. It proved a hit with airlines, thanks to its low maintenance and training costs.

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