How Embraer Was Born – The Story Of A Brazilian Startup

Embraer is currently the third-most important plane builder worldwide. Until a few years ago was on a toe to toe battle with Canadian-builder Bombardier both on the commercial and executive markets. Now it is in the middle of a possible merger with Boeing. But, how Embraer was born?

Embraer E195 Getty
Embraer is among the biggest airplane builders in the world. But, what is its history? Photo: Getty Images.

Brazil’s biggest pride?

When you think about it, Brazil shouldn’t be the first country to think about making commercial airplanes. At least not successfully. But here we are, and over its history, Embraer has delivered 2,125 commercial airplanes of the Embraer 170/175/190/195 and ERJ 135/140/145 families only.

Other countries have failed where Brazil is successful. Also, a few countries, like Japan, China, and Russia are still trying to establish their own families of commercial airliners. But they are years away from what Brazil has accomplished.

So, for the Brazilian government and Brazilian society, to have Embraer is a point of national pride. It is evidence of a well-developed investment in the air industry by the South American country. It can also be traced back to the fifties.

Embraer EMB-110
The EMB-110, or Bandeirante, was the first airplane built by Embraer. Photo: Rob Hodgkins via Flickr.

Going back to the end of World War II

Officially, Brazil launched Embraer on 19 August 1969. The activities of the new company began on 2 January 1970, but the idea of creating a Brazilian airplane builder can be traced back to a few decades earlier.

In 1941, the Brazilian government of Getulio Vargas created the Ministry of Aeronautics. This organization had the intention of developing, expanding and coordinating the technical and economic activities of national aviation. By this time, Brazil already had a few airlines like Varig and Serviços Aéreos Cruzeiro do Sul.

In the next decade, the Brazilian Government created the Technological Institute of Aeronautics. In this new school, Ozires Silva graduated as an aeronautical engineer. Who was Ozires Silva? According to Embraer, he was “a restless and visionary young man” who helped in the development of the Bandeirante, a Brazilian-made aircraft that had its first flight in 1968.

Then, Ozires Silva launched, with the help of the government, a new mixed capital company: Embraer.

There are still over 100 EMB-110 in use worldwide. Photo: Eduard Marmet via Wikimedia.

The EMB 110, the start of Embraer’s commercial future

The new Brazilian company introduced several modifications to the Bandeirante. This led to the creation of the first commercial family of Embraer, the EMB 110, which was a total success.

Embraer produced almost 500 Bandeirantes between 1970 and 1990. Currently, over 100 are still in use worldwide, mainly with Air Forces. This model had a capacity for 18 passengers, a range of 1,060 nautical miles (1,964 kilometers), and a cruise speed of 411 km/h.

According to Flight Global’s census of 2019, there were 42 EMB-110 still in commercial use last year. Skypower Express Airways, an African carrier had one; Air Rarotonga and Northern Air Services Charter in the Asia-Pacific region had two each. Payam Air in the Middle East had five.

In North and South America there were a total of 32 EMB-110 still flying. Wiggins Airways had the most, with seven, followed by Royal Air Freight with five and TAG Airlines with four.

After the EMB-110, Embraer built the EMB-120. In the nineties, the Brazilian company finally introduced the ERJ family and in the early 2000s, it announced the E-Jets program. Meanwhile, Embraer also developed its business and military branches with great success as well. But now, with Boeing possibly buying the commercial division of Embraer, the Brazilian company might be facing its biggest challenge.

What do you think of Embraer? How it will succeed in the future without its commercial branch? Let us know in the comments.