Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia
The EMB-120 Brasilia is a twin-engine turboprop regional airliner, developed and built by the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer. It seats up to 30 passengers.
Embraer's earlier EMB-110 Bandeirante 19-seat unpressurised passenger aircraft, first flown in 1972, became a big success. So Embraer wanted more and in the late 1970s it began developing a larger airliner. At first the idea was to stretch the EMB-121 Xingu corporate turboprop into a 25-seat regional airliner: the EMB-120 'Araguia'. Later Embraer decided to develop an all-new aircraft as EMB-120 'Brasilia'. Embraer offered it as a high speed aircraft with low operating costs.
The first prototype flight took place on 27 July 1983. The Brasilia entered into airline service in October 1985 with the US commuter airline Atlantic Southeast Airlines, which nicknamed the aircraft 'The Silver Bullet' because of its metal skin colour scheme and high speed. Other important customers in the United States were SkyWest Airlines (as United Express and Delta Connection) and Great Lakes Airlines. Some early European users were DAT (Belgium), DLT (Germany) and Régional Airlines (France).
The EMB-120 competed with the Saab 340, the De Havilland Canada Dash 8 and later also with the British Aerospace Jetstream 41. Embraer deliberately chose for an aircraft a little smaller than the Saab 340 and the Dash 8. Many customers of these aircraft types were growing from operating 19-seaters and, according to Embraer's philosophy, for such airlines a 30-seater might be easier to fill than an aircraft with 34 to 36 seats.
Like many other commuter airliners, the Brasilia was fitted with a member of the Pratt & Whitney PW100 family of turboprop engines. Embraer chose the PW115, the lightest version of this engine, although it was soon replaced by the more powerful PW118. Embraer also built hot and high variants with PW118A turboprops. The engines drive four-blade Hamilton Sundstrand constant-speed propellers with glass fibre blades and aluminium spars. Passengers sit three-abreast (2+1) in a cabin of about the same width as the Jetstream 31's. Embraer kept the fuselage diameter as small as possible to make it easier to attain a high speed. The EMB-120's fuselage cross section was later also used on the ERJ-145 regional jet.
Several versions exist. The first was the EMB-120, which was soon replaced by the EMB-120RT (Reduced Takeoff weight), the first main production version. Several models were built on behalf of cargo and passenger/cargo operators, like the EMB-120FC (Full Cargo) and the EMB-120QC (Quick Change). A much improved version is the EMB-120ER (Extended Range), of which the first aircraft was delivered to Skywest Airlines in May 1993. It has an increased maximum takeoff weight and an upgraded cabin. Many earlier RT-aircraft have been modified to ER-standard. The Brasilian Air Force flies a VIP version of the Brasilia as 'VC-97'.
Embraer ended the production in 2001, although since then built a few aircraft on the same final assembly line as the ERJ-145. 345 aircraft have been built and early in 2015 well over a hundred Brasilias are still in active airline service.
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