Embraer and the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first flight of the Bandeirante, a twin-engine aircraft that represents a milestone in the history of the Brazilian aeronautical industry. It was the Bandeirante that led in 1969 to the creation of Embraer for the aircraft's serial production and commercialisation.
The anniversary celebrations recreated the official ceremony that took place on 26 October, 1968 when hundreds of guests witnessed the flight of the aircraft that departed from the then unpaved runway in São José dos Campos, in the countryside of the state of São Paulo. In attendance at this year's celebration were defence minister Joaquim Silva e Luna, Brazilian Air Force commander lieutenant-brigadier Nivaldo Luiz Rossato and the first superintendent director of Embraer Ozires Silva, along with the company's board of directors, officers and employees.
“The Bandeirante represented much more than an aircraft; it marked a new cycle of transformation for Brazilian industry. It represents a Brazil that is bold, capable of uniting competence, talent and innovation,” says Embraer president and CEO Paulo Cesar de Souza e Silva. “This commemorative date offers us an opportunity to be grateful and to celebrate the pioneers of Embraer and of the Brazilian aeronautical industry, our own 'bandeirantes' who have pioneered the frontiers of aeronautical technology. Embraer today is a company that competes on an equal technological footing with the world's largest aircraft manufacturers because 50 years ago a group of engineers, designers and pilots dared to bring to life an aircraft that became a legend.”
Brazilian Air Force commander lieutenant-brigadier Nivaldo Luiz Rossato adds: “The 50 years of the Bandeirante must be celebrated for the geniality and ingenuity of Brazilians in the field of aviation. The first flight was the moment that Brazil earned prominence within the global aerospace industry through the creation of Embraer, and of the establishment of a series of successful partnerships that over 50 years have projected the company to a level of indisputable excellence and recognition on the global scene.”
The first prototype of the Bandeirante, identified as IPD-6504, completed its inaugural test flight on 22 October, 1968 in the presence of the project's technical team. The aircraft, painted in FAB colours, left the X10 hangar at the Aerospace Technical Center (CTA) to take off at 07:07 hours and returned for landing 50 minutes later under the command of major José Mariotto Ferreira and flight engineer Michel Cury. Four days later the aircraft was officially presented to the authorities and to reporters and its maiden flight was repeated.
For the construction of the first prototype, three years and four months elapsed between the first preliminary studies and the inaugural flight. It took 110,000 project hours, 12,000 manufacturing drawings, 22,000 hours of structural and aerodynamic calculations and 282,000 hours of aircraft manufacturing and tooling. Over the course of two decades Embraer produced and delivered 498 Bandeirantes in various civil and military configurations. Around 150 aircraft are still operating in airlines, air taxis, government entities and air forces in the Americas, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.