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Volume 14,Issue 3 Autumn 2012

Ipanema crop duster -- A typical example of using clean energy in aviation industry


In the 1950s, Brazil, the big country with vast land in South America, established an institution which is called Comando-Geral de Tecnologia Aeroespacial (CTA) after more than ten years of talent, knowledge and technology reserving. Thanks to the establishment of this institution which functions as the research and development center dedicated to aviation industry, Brazil officially triggered its homegrown of a series of aircraft programmes consisting of commercial, general aviation and military airplanes, and put them into the international market. The Ipanema crop duster aircraft was one of the earliest products developed by CTA.
Ipanema, which was born in 1970, is a general aviation aircraft specially developed for agricultural crop dusting operation. Ipanema was designed and manufactured by the third largest aircraft manufaturer in the world today: Embraer- Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica S.A. founded in 1969 and this aircraft was one of its earliest models to be produced in series. As of today, being a very successful aircraft for agricultural applications, there are more than 1000 units of Ipanema have been delivered which are serving for many large-scale farms. Ipanema – this mature and traditional agricultural aircraft – turned into a new life in 2005 because Embraer had successfully modified it into a fully ethanol-powered aircraft which was in batch production and delivered to the operators within the same year. As far as those operators who had purchased Ipanema before 2005 is concerned, Embraer offered a special program through which their traditional aircraft would be retrofitted into the ethanol-powered models upon the customers’ request. Ipanema became the first aircraft model worldwide that was certified to operate with ethanol-fuel when delivered from the factory. The “energy revolution” happened on Ipanema proves the advantages of the substituted energy. Comparing with jet fuel, the ethanol-fuel burned by Ipanema is about three to four times cheaper, and what is more, it also generates much less combustion residues than that of the jet fuel. Meanwhile, ethanol-fuel has a neutral balancing effect on carbon emission and has no lead content in it, which will do a lot of benefits to the environment. The aviation transport industry is a “mammoth consumer’ of energy in today’s world, therefore, what role it should play in the campaign of seeking a clean and effective substitute energy waged by the mankind? As an upstream industry of the aviation transport and a member of the aircraft manufacturering segment, Embraer is also taking an active part in longing for and executing this process so as to make contributions for the environmental protection. Brazil is a global leader in both refining and using the alternative energy. In this country, there is a special kind of sugarcane from which ethanol-fuel could be economically extracted and used as a substituted fuel for aircraft, auto and other vehicles. Taking this advantage, Embraer carried a test of using this kind of substituted energy on a mature general aviation aircraft, and the success of this test is regarded as a significant even in the history of seeking a harmonic relation between human being and the nature. When talking about using alternative energy in aviation industry, the view point expressed by Embraer President and CEO Frederico Fleury Curado, may share the common opinions with some other practitioners in aviation industry. Mr. Curado believes that it is the general trend of the times and also the requirement on the contemporary people by the future. The aviation industry as other energy consumptive industries should seek alternative energies and protect the environment. Just because of realizing this point, Embraer has taken steady steps to carry out test with a general aviation aircraft. It is believed that before long in the future, this technology will be applied into more aircraft models. Mr. Curado emphasizes that Embraer will never give up its persistent efforts in promoting the environmental protection and sustainable development.

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