Time certainly flies, yet it also presents us with opportunities to celebrate. Twenty years ago this month, our 50-seat regional jet, the ERJ 145, took-off on its first revenue flight from Cleveland, operated by ExpressJet Airlines on behalf of Continental Airlines. A new chapter in their history, our history, and that of aviation, was just beginning – the significance of which not only exceeded not only our expectations, but went beyond anything we’d imagined.
That April day marked a fundamental change in the way small-capacity, commuter airplanes were seen. Indeed, the 50-seat regional jet (RJ) became a whole new category in itself, coming to signify business-friendliness and cost savings for high-fare paying business travelers who could now travel when most convenient.
A regional jet covered twice the distance of a turboprop in the same time. That speed allowed for new non-stop flights and better connections at hubs. For RJ operators, the airplanes expanded networks, accessed wider catchment areas, fixed off-peak capacity scheduling inefficiencies, gave customers more flight options, generated new revenue, and increased asset productivity throughout the fleet.
RJs also brought economic prosperity. Instead of driving to a distant hub, new small-jet service meant passengers could start and end their journeys from their local airport. Affordable, comfortable, time-saving RJ flights became the lifeblood of smaller communities.
It was a truly revolutionary airplane. Twenty years later, it still is.
We learned a lot from ExpressJet in the early years. We worked side-by-side with its engineers, its aircraft acceptance teams and its operations personnel. As much as the ERJ was transforming commercial aviation, our first commercial customer was transforming us, too.
The formula for the ERJ’s success in North America two decades ago continues to echo in other parts of the world, as new operators in Africa, China, the Indian subcontinent, and even Australia can attest.
As we celebrate this milestone, I want to extend my personal thanks to all our ERJ operators over the last two decades who have added more than 1,000 aircraft from our production line to their fleets. You’ve helped make the ERJ family what it is today – a true legend in commercial aviation.
Happy twentieth, ERJ! You look as beautiful as the day I first met you.