Irish carrier Ryanair is known today for having an all-Boeing 737 fleet. The majority of these are examples of the 737-800, although the new MAX series is set to play an increasing role at the airline in years to come. However, its first aircraft was not a 737, but rather a Brazilian turboprop. Let’s explore the story of the Embraer EMB 110 ‘Bandeirante.’
The EMB 110 in a nutshell
The EMB 110 was a Brazilian turboprop airliner, of which 501 examples were produced between 1968 and 1990. Interestingly, the aircraft was not an Embraer project to start off with, as the Brazilian manufacturer didn’t come into existence until August 1969. However, its founder, Ozires Silva, did supervise the design of Max Holste’s YC-95 prototype.
This prototype first flew in October 1968. After Embraer became involved in the project, two more prototypes were built under the ‘EMB 100’ designation. The goal of the program, which began as a directive from the Brazilian Ministry of Aeronautics in 1965, was to produce a reliable civilian and military transport aircraft with low operating costs.
The aircraft’s ‘Bandeirante’ nickname means ‘pioneer’ in English, and refers to the settlers that helped Brazil expand westwards in the 16th-18th centuries. It entered service in 1973, and its main users today are the Brazilian Air Force and US cargo carrier Wiggins Airways.
Performance and specifications
Embraer ended up producing a wide range of EMB 110 variants to suits its customers’ differing wants and needs. The aircraft typically seated 15-21 passengers, with the EMB 110P1A/41 version finding itself in the middle of this range with 18 seats. This variant was 15.1 meters long, and had a 15.33-meter wide wingspan. Its cockpit had space for two pilots.
The 4.92-meter tall aircraft had a maximum cruising speed of 411 km/h (222 knots), while more economical cruising took place at 341 km/h (184 knots). Its range when cruising at the aforementioned economical rate was 1,964 km (1,060 NM). This figure also left 45 minutes’ worth of fuel in reserve. Its service ceiling was 21,490 feet.
The EMB was ultimately considered to be a successful aircraft, and it formed the basis of Embraer’s larger EMB 120 ‘Brasilia.’ This design was also faster than the EMB 110, and its 30 passengers benefitted from the presence of a pressurized cabin.
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Ryanair’s first aircraft
When Ryanair began life in 1985, it did so with a single 15-seat Embraer EMB 110. The aircraft operated the newly-formed Irish low-cost carrier’s first-ever flight, from Waterford to London Gatwick, on July 8th that year. Ryanair flew the EMB 110 until 1989.
Today, Ryanair’s fleet is a far cry from its turboprop years. While it has operated other such designs, like the Hawker Siddeley HS 748 and the ATR 42, its fleet now consists entirely of jet aircraft. According to ch-aviation.com, it has 417 Boeing 737-800s at its disposal across the whole Ryanair Group, as well as 13 737 MAXs, and 29 Airbus A320s.
Did you know that Ryanair used to operate the Embraer EMB 110? Perhaps you even flew on the type yourself with the Irish low-cost carrier? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.