MIAMI – Today in Aviation, the Embraer ERJ-135 made its maiden flight in 1997. The 37-seat passenger airliner is the smallest of the Brazilian manufacturers’ ‘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. Demand was there for an aircraft that carried less than 40 passengers to serve lower density routes. 

The ER-135/140 and 145 are all powered by two Rolls-Royce AE 3007 turbofan engines. Photo: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2, 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. 

The type entered service with Continental Express and American Eagle in July 1999. Photo: John Davies – CYOW Airport Watch (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons

Featured image: The ERJ-135 and -145 pictured at the Farnborough Air Show in July 2000. Photo: Anthony Noble, via Wikimedia