Despite a chequered early development history, the 50 seat ERJ-145 has become a runaway sales success.
Embraer began working on 50 seat regional jet concepts in the late 1980s. The original EMB-145 (the marketing designation later became ERJ-145) was launched in mid 1989 and would have been a stretched and jet engined EMB-120 Brasilia. Features of this design included a straight wing with winglets and the two turbofans mounted forward of the wing as on most low wing turboprops. This design would have seated 45 to 50 passengers and featured 75% commonality with the Brasilia. In that configuration cruising speed would have been 740km/h (400kt) and range with a 4500kg (9920lb) payload 2500km (1350nm).
But by 1990 Embraer was studying a modified design with less commonality to the Brasilia as wind tunnel testing revealed that the original configuration would not reach its design performance objectives. Changes to this interim design included a mildly swept wing with winglets (wing sweep of 22.3°) and conventional below wing mounted engines. Wind tunnel testing proved that this configuration met design objectives however it had a major drawback in that it would have needed an unusually high undercarriage.
Thus in late 1991 Embraer froze the ERJ-145 design with rear fuselage mounted engines and T-tail, and no winglets. Other features include Rolls-Royce (Allison) AE-3007A turbofans and a Honeywell Primus 1000 EFIS avionics suite with five colour CRT screens in the flightdeck. The Brasilia's three abreast fuselage cross section was retained.
The ERJ-145's first flight took place on August 11 1995 with first deliveries from December 1996 to Continental Express. Continental's initial order for 25 was a major fillup for the program and opened the floodgates for a number of major sales.
Embraer has developed several versions of the ERJ-145, the initial ERJ-145ER, the higher max takeoff weight longer range ERJ-145LR introduced in 1998 and most recently the ERJ-145XR (Extra Long Range). The 145XR first flew on June 29 2001 and entered service in October 2002. It features uprated yet more fuel efficient 36kN (8110lb) engines, winglets, 24,100kg (53,131lb) max takeoff weight, a max cruising speed of Mach 0.8 (852km/h/460kt) and increased fuel capacity for a 3705km (2000nm) range. The ERJ-145EP and -EU are -ERs with different max takeoff weights, and the ERJ-145LU and -MP are -LRs with different max takeoff weights.
Other EMB-145 developments are the AEW&C (Airborne Early Warning and Control) EMB-145SA with an Erieye radar on top of the fuselage (serving with the Brazilian Air Force as R-99A), the EMB-145AEW which is the export variant of the EMB-145SA (for Greece and Mexico), the EMB-145RS, a remote sensing variant (serving with the Brazilian Air Force as the R-99B and with the Mexican Air Force) and the maritime patrol and ASW EMB-145MP/ASW which will serve with the Brazilian Air Force as P-99. The standard EMB-145ER serves as the C-99A in the Brazilian Air Force.
Since mid 2004, the ERJ-145 is also assembled in China by Harbin Embraer.
The shorter fuselage ERJ-135 and ERJ-140 and the corporate transport EMB-135BJ Legacy are described separately.
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