On 29 May Embraer and WEG – both companies among the largest high-tech exporters in Brazil – announced a programme of technical and scientific collaboration aimed at joint development of new technologies and solutions to enable electric propulsion in aircraft.

The partnership seeks to accelerate the growth in technical knowledge required to increase the energy efficiency of electric motors for innovative aircraft propulsion systems. This effort is part of the overarching effort in industry to ensure environmental sustainability, as is already the case, for instance, with the use of biofuels to reduce carbon emissions.

By creating this technological development agreement with WEG, we have combined more than 100 years of innovation from two leading companies in generating knowledge and strengthening the supply chain, as well as increasing Brazilian competitiveness in the global market,” observed Embraer’s Executive Vice President of Engineering and Technology, Daniel Moczydlower. “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.”

Although the most immediately obvious application of any innovative propulsion system derived from this collaborative research and development programme is undoubtedly the eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicle announced for the urban air mobility market by subsidiary company EmbraerX last year, Moczydlower also sees significant military applications. “Take training, for example: in a time of constrained budgets, especially in the armed force, a cheaper but still eminently capable solution to support basic flying training missions could have enormous impact and be very attractive to a range of operators,” he told journalists at a briefing in Sao Jose dos Campos on 29 May.

The cooperation will lead to the development of an aeronautical platform to be used for integration and testing of complex systems under real operating conditions – a technology demonstrator, in effect. A small single-engined aircraft, based on the Embraer EMB-203 IPANEMA, will be used as the test bed: the first flight is scheduled for 2020, according to the company.

Our powertrain technology, developed over years for tried and tested applications in trains, buses, trucks and boats, and in constant evolution, has paved the way for this exciting scientific and technological cooperation project. 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,” stated WEG Automation Superintendent Director, Manfred Peter Johann.

The test bed for the electric propulsion development programme will be based on the Embraer IPANEMA utility aircraft. (Photo via Wikipedia Commons)

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