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Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer marked 50 years of operations for its EMB 110 Bandeirante light transport aircraft on 9 February 2023.

Seen as an icon of Brazil’s modern aeronautical industry, the type entered service on 9 February 1973 when the first aircraft was delivered to the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) in a ceremony held at the Embraer factory in São José dos Campos in São Paulo state.

“The Bandeirante represents a major milestone for Brazilian aviation. Born from the dreams of visionaries like Ozires Silva, the aircraft played an essential role in Brazil’s integration and, year after year, proved to be a versatile, safe twin-engine [aircraft] capable of operating in all regions of our immense country,” noted Lieutenant-Brigadier Marcelo Kanitz Damasceno, the FAB commander, on 9 February. “This model expresses much more than just an aircraft that has been successfully used by the Brazilian Air Force in the last 50 years. It represents a victorious partnership that gave birth to the largest company in our aeronautical industry, a source of pride for all Brazilians.”

“Embraer and the FAB are longstanding strategic partners, and the Bandeirante depicts the beginning of an important industrial co-operation,” said Francisco Gomes Neto, President and CEO of Embraer, on the anniversary. “The aircraft was a milestone for the development of regional aviation worldwide and the first commercial success of the Brazilian aeronautical industry abroad.”

The IPD/PAR 6504 aeronautical project was conceived at the Aeronautics Technical Center in Sao Jose dos Campos and authorised by the Ministry of Aeronautics in 1965. The first flight took place on 22 October 1968 and around that time the aircraft was named Bandeirante. Its development involved the collaboration of 170 Brazilian companies, with Embraer created in 1969 to provide an industrial structure for the scaled production and further development of the aircraft.

The Bandeirante was conceived from the outset to connect the furthest points of Brazil’s vast national territory, serving not only the FAB but also the Brazilian airlines, such as Transbrasil and VASP, which ordered a civilian version of the aircraft.

The Bandeirante was also successful in the international market. The first military version was exported to Uruguay in 1975 and two years later the French airline Air Littoral became the first international customer for the civilian version. In the following years the Bandeirante would also become a reference design in the North American regional market.

In FAB service the Bandeirante has performed several missions, such as transporting people and cargo, providing a carrier for paratroops, and acting as a flight instruction and test platform. A search, rescue, and reconnaissance version was also developed, which became known as the Banderulha and is responsible for patrolling Brazil’s extensive maritime territory.

Around 60 variants of the Bandeirante currently remain in Brazilian military service.

Peter Felstead