On Oct. 29, 2001, Embraer rolled out the 170, the first in a new family of passenger aircraft that were later dubbed “E-Jets.” It was an inauspicious time to be investing. The 9/11 terrorist attacks the month before had sent the aviation industry reeling, and the cover of Aviation Week & Space Technology proclaimed “Airlines, Airports & MRO Under Siege.” But as much of the industry retrenched, officials at the Brazilian aircraft builder pressed ahead with an aggressive development ...

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