Brazilian aircraft company Embraer has received type certification for its ethanol-fueled Ipanema cropdusting aircraft from Brazilian aviation regulating agency Centro Técnico Aeroespacial (CTA). The Ipanema is the first series production aircraft in the world coming out of the factory certified for flying with ethanol.
Embraer chose ethanol primarily for cost. Brazil is a major producer of sugar cane ethanol, and the country has a well-established production and refueling infrastructure. This makes ethanol about three to four times cheaper than aviation gasoline (AvGas) in Brazil.
Embraer claims that the ethanol-powered engine will provide a 5% increase in power, thus improving takeoff, climbing rate, speed and maximum altitude. Initial tests indicate an improvement in the maintenance cycle as well.
Conversion is possible. Conversion of existing engines is not only feasible but also cost effective. Indústria Aeronáutica Neiva, the wholly-owned Embraer subsidiary that produced the Ipanema, has 69 orders to retrofit customers’ AvGas-fueled Ipanemas into ethanol-powered airplanes. Deliveries of the first units of the ethanol version are expected in the first quarter 2005.
No details yet on the emissions profile, or the percentage composition of the ethanol fuel.