I flew on the Embraer 145, one of American Airlines' smallest jets — and now I'm a huge fan

EmbraerThe Embraer 145.

It’s easy to see the entire commercial-aviation industry through the dual lens of Boeing and Airbus – understandable as the US giant and the European mega-consortium divide about 90% of the market for jet aircraft.

However, there are two other plane makers of note on the planet: Canada’s Bombardier and Brazil’s Embraer.

Mind you, both are in the process of being absorbed by the Boeing-Airbus duopoly. Airbus has effectively taken over the troubled Bombardier CSeries, rechristening it the A220. Meanwhile,Boeing has bought into Embraer big time with a nearly $US4 billion deal that’s slated to close this year.

Like most travellers, I hate flying on larger narrow-body jets for the most part. But I make an exception for small single-aisle jets, which I very much dig, like the Boeing 717.

Recently, I made a quick trip to my hometown, Huntington, West Virginia. This a small city served by a small regional airport. For what seems like decades, I’ve flown in and out of Huntington Tri-State Airport on turboprop regional planes. But on my last visit, I discovered that jet service is back.

And the jet I wound up riding, the Embraer 145, was a winner. Read on to find out why:

The Embraer is an elegant jet aircraft, developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s by the Brazilian company to serve regional markets and replace propeller-driven planes. It took to the skies for the first time in 1995.


Source: FlightGlobal Archives

Here’s the Embraer 145 I flew from Huntington Tri-State Airport to Charlotte, North Carolina. I was flying American Airlines, so the jet was operated by Piedmont Airlines, under the American Eagle banner. Piedmont has 60 Embraer 145s in its fleet.

Matt DeBord/BI

Some useful information about the jet.

Matt DeBord/BI

The Embraer 145 is the second-smallest jet American Eagle operates; only the Embraer 140 is smaller.

Matt DeBord/BI

The 50 seats are arranged in a 1-2 configuration, with a very narrow aisle.

Wikimedia Commons

Legroom wasn’t bad — but I’m a mere 5 feet, 7 inches, so for larger folks, the seats could be snug.

Matt DeBord/BI

Naturally, because I was flying on a jet plane, I read a novel about a train robbery in Victorian England.

Matt DeBord/BI

It was a 1975 best seller!

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And the late Michael Crichton was a young’un in those days.

Matt DeBord/BI

Tri-State is more of an airfield than an airport, hence the stepladders to board right off the tarmac. Jet service has been absent for some time — I used to ride Bombardier Dash 8 turboprops off this mountain-top redoubt.

Matt DeBord/BI

The takeoff was swift and private-jet-like.

Matt DeBord/BI

Airborne! Flight time to Charlotte was only about 30 minutes — we basically climbed and descended. A quick trip that was much less noisy than what I was used to. The 145 rocks a pair of Rolls-Royce turbofan engines that can generate nearly 9,000 pounds of thrust. The jet can fly as high as 37,000 feet.

Matt DeBord/BI

Hello Charlotte! The second leg of my trip would take me to Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey, obviously on some larger equipment.

Matt DeBord/BI

What a nifty jet the Embraer 145 is! I much prefer flying on small single-aisle jets to big narrow-bodies. They get up fast, the boarding and deplaning process is quick, and compared with regional turboprops, they’re a much faster way to zip between the major US carriers’ hubs. To top it off, I’m glad that jet service has finally returned to my hometown!

Matt DeBord/BI

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