Embraer reached a special civilian mission aircraft milestone on 16 November 2013: the 1300th Ipanema agricultural airplane was delivered after more than 40 years of uninterrupted production.
Over the last three years the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer even sees a slight increase of sales. 58 Ipanemas were delivered in 2011, followed by 66 last year. The forecast for this year is that 70 aircraft will be delivered.
The commemorative aircraft is the eighth delivered to Fort Aviação Agrícola from Rio Verde, after the company was founded in 2007. “We work only with Ipanema airplanes, because we opted for a nationally built aircraft which is more appropriate for the working conditions and climate found in Brazil,” executive director Clertan Alves Macedo syas. “Furthermore, we chose models powered by ethanol, which has a smaller environmental footprint, higher work output, and lower operating cost.”
The Ipanema was the first aircraft produced in series in the world to leave the factory already certified to fly on ethanol (hydrous ethanol), which is the same fuel used in automobiles – the model has been available since 2005. According to Embraer this alternative source of renewable fuel, derived from sugarcane, reduced its environmental footprint, lowered operating and maintenance costs, and improved the overall performance of the aircraft, making it more attractive to the market. Today, about 40% of the fleet in operation is powered by ethanol, and approximately 80% of the new airplanes are sold with this configuration.
Ipanemas are mainly used for spraying fertilizers and pesticides, so that offsets the promoted environmental friendliness of ethanol somewhat. But Embraer states the aircraft can also be used to spread crop seeds, fight fires, seed rivers, and fight pests and larvae. The main crops that get a visit of the airplane are cotton, sugarcane, citrus fruits, eucalyptus, corn, soy and coffee. In Brazil alone the Ipanemas have 65 percent of the market.