EMBRAER CELEBRATES 40th ANNIVERSARY OF IPANEMA’S FIRST FLIGHT

miércoles, 4 de agosto de 2010


Crop duster took maiden flight on July 31, 1970


São José dos Campos, July 30, 2010 – Embraer is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first flight of the Ipanema crop duster. The airplane project began at the end of the 1960s, on the orders of the Ministry of Agriculture, that the Research and Development Institute (Instituto de Pesquisas e Desenvolvimento – IPD) design the
first agricultural aircraft to substitute imported models. The project became a reality with the founding of Embraer, in 1969. Today, the Ipanema is the leader of Brazil’s agricultural aviation, with more than 1,100 planes delivered and 75% of the fleet in operation, nationwide.

The Ipanema was conceived to modernize Brazilian agriculture. Initial studies began in 1969, and the name was chosen in honor of the Ipanema farm, located in Iperó, 128 km (80 miles) far from the city of São Paulo. At that time, this farm had a school and an agricultural aviation research center maintained by the Ministry of Agriculture. The first prototype of the Ipanema, registration number PP-ZIP, was the second airplane produced by Embraer, soon after the Urupema (EMB 400) glider. The original model (EMB 200) had a 260 HP engine, fixed-pitch propeller, hydraulic spraying system, and a 580 liter hopper.

The maiden flight took place on July 31, 1970, at Embraer’s headquarters in São
José dos Campos, State of São Paulo, and approval was received in December 1971. The company Corsário de Aviação, from the State of Goiás, ordered ten aircraft, in March 1971, and was the Ipanema’s first customer. In February 1972, the first airplane, registration number PT-GBA, was delivered and entered service in the fight against pests that threatened cotton crops.

Sales of the Ipanema constantly grew, which significantly added to Embraer’s own
development. In November 1973, the 100th airplane was delivered to Serviços Agro Aéreos do Sul. In 1975, Uruguay’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing ordered ten Ipanemas, along with five EMB 110 Bandeirantes, marking Embraer’s first exports. In 1980, Embraer acquired Indústria Aeronáutica Neiva, a company founded in 1954 and that produced small airplanes. With the merger of the two companies, the Ipanema’s production was transferred to Botucatu, São Paulo, in 1982, where it continues. In order to adapt it to operational realities and to keep it in line with the times, Embraer has made a number of modifications in the Ipanema’s design, over the years, such as a variable-pitch propeller, larger wheels, more powerful 300 HP engine, tail wheel with a larger diameter, new shock absorbers and wing profile, among others.

As of 1992, when the capacity of the spraying tank was increased to 950 liters, the new EMB 202 model was fondly nicknamed the “Ipanemão” (Big Ipanema). This version also included aerodynamic improvements, to ensure greater speed and stability, and an innovative electrostatic spraying system.



The most recent and significant change, however, became a reality in 2005. On March 15, the 1000th Ipanema was delivered. Coincidentally, that was also the first model with the 320 HP ethanol-powered engine, which is the same fuel developed in Brazil used mainly by the nation’s automobiles. The project was developed in a partnership with the Department of Aerospace Science and Technology Departamento de Ciência e Tecnologia Aeroespacial – DCTA).

From that point on, Embraer began to offer ethanol conversion kits for the airplanes powered by aviation gasoline (AvGas). Currently, around 25% of the Brazilian fleet uses ethanol. Besides being less polluting, this fuel extends the useful life of the engine and reduces the aircraft’s operating cost. The Ipanema has established itself as the first airplane in the world to be produced in series with an ethanol-powered engine. Recognition for the big innovation by the aviation world came quickly. In 2005, the Ipanema received the Aeronautics Industry Award in the General Aviation category, presented by the renowned British magazine Flight International. That same year, another important international publication, the U.S.’s Scientific American, considered it to be one of the 50 most important inventions of the year. In Brazil, the Ipanema was granted the Melhores da
Terra (Best on Earth) Award by the Gerdau Group.

“We would not have gotten where we are today, if it weren’t with the contribution of all who have dedicated, and still dedicate, time and attention to the development of the Ipanema,”

says Almir Borges, Industrial Director of the Botucatu plant. “We expect to keep the Ipanema in operation for many more years, and to that end we will continue evaluating additional improvements to the product to meet the needs of our customers.”


So, much has changed over these four decades, but the contribution of the Ipanema to the Brazilian agricultural scene is undeniable. The 40-year veteran still has the same energy as the pioneer, motivated by constant technological innovations. The airplane’s flexibility allows it to be used not only for crop dusting, but also for planting, and seeding rivers, as well as combating carriers and larvae. The Ipanema has become a symbol of Brazilian agriculture and worldwide aviation.


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