Embraer and Brazilian technical company WEG signed an agreement on May 29 for the development of an electric-powered aircraft.
The research and development program will use an Embraer EMB-203 Ipanema agricultural aircraft to develop the technology, with a view to an initial flight occurring either late this year or early in 2020. The Ipanema is currently the only aircraft currently certified for operation using 100 per cent methanol biofuel, according to Embraer.
Under the agreement, WEG will supply the electric motor, the frequency inverter for the power train and the associated control system.
“Our powertrain technology, developed over the years in tried and tested applications in trains, buses, trucks and boats, and in constant evolution, has paved the way for this exciting scientific and technological co-operation project,” WEG automation superintendent director Manfred Johann said.
“Together with Embraer we will work not only to enable the electric propulsion of aircraft, but also to increase the technological capacity of WEG, of Embraer and of Brazil, taking our country to an even more competitive level.”
Embraer Executive Vice President of Engineering and Technology Daniel Moczydlower said the Ipanema platform was chosen because it is already in production and is not capital intensive, but also because, as an agricultural aircraft, it can carry a significant payload and is therefore readily capable of accommodating the electric propulsion system.
“Advances in scientific research can make clean and renewable energy a major enabler of a new era of urban and regional air mobility that is more accessible to the population,” he said.
The initial co-operation will seek to develop opportunities for innovative technologies which may lead to future opportunities for new powerplant configurations, including hybrid propulsion.
“By creating this technological development agreement with WEG, we have combined more than 100 years of innovation from two leading companies,” Moczydlower said.
Moczydlower also said that the technology has applications in the military domain, particularly for flight training, where electric propulsion has the potential to significantly decrease operating costs.
Disclaimer: The writer travelled to Brazil as a guest of Embraer.