Embraer has been collaborating with Georgia-based and globally active motor-maker WEG and Portuguese energy company EDP to create an electric propulsion system for an Embraer EMB–203 Ipanema, a crop duster first flown in 1970 that was certified to run on renewable ethanol in 2004. A new electric powertrain supplied by WEG and powered by EDP batteries began ground and lab tests in 2019, and recently began flight testing at Embraer’s facility in Gavião Peixoto, in São Paulo, Brazil, Embraer announced.
“The first flight of an aircraft is always an important milestone, and the takeoff of our first zero-emission electric aircraft also represents the relevant contribution of our teams and partners to the energy transition of the sector,” said Luis Carlos Affonso, Embraer vice president of engineering, technology development, and corporate strategy, in the announcement. “We are committed to seeking solutions to enable the future of a more sustainable aviation and innovation will play a key role in this journey.”
The electric airplane is a demonstrator that will help Embraer develop new aircraft and fits within the company’s broader mission to become a carbon-neutral operation by 2040, a goal announced on the same day (August 13) as the electric Ipanema’s first flight. Embraer is also working with Eve Urban Air Mobility Solutions and Kenya Airways to develop foundational concepts, procedures, and operational models for electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. The partnership in Kenya will deliver a blueprint for scaling up an urban air mobility network that could reduce ground transit time to and from the airport from about 90 minutes to 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, an agreement between Embraer and Avfuel Corp. led to another August 13 announcement, the first delivery of Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel to Melbourne Orlando International Airport in Florida. Avfuel delivered its first shipment to Embraer’s Melbourne facility to power operations at the company’s business jet headquarters. Each delivery will reduce carbon emissions by 19.1 metric tons, Embraer noted, and produce up to 80 percent less greenhouse gas emissions compared to Jet A combustion.