Brazilian Embraer to test fully electric aircraft to further Uber air taxi platform | The Driven
Agricultural aircraft Ipanema served as the basis for the electric prototype. Embraer
Agricultural aircraft Ipanema served as the basis for the electric prototype. Embraer

Brazilian aerospace conglomerate Embraer has unveiled its first fully electric aircraft, a demonstrator project with 100% electric propulsion technology which is currently under development.

The prototype electric motor and controller are being manufactured by WEG at the company’s headquarters in Jaraguá do Sul, Santa Catarina, Brazil, as part of a scientific and technological cooperation agreement signed between the two companies in May for joint development of electrification technologies.

The technology will be installed into a small, single-engine aircraft based on the EMB-203 Ipanema agricultural aircraft for testing and initial evaluation of the electrification technology.

The cooling system for the demonstrator aircraft will be provided through a partnership with Parker Aerspace.

Over the coming months, the companies involved in the demonstrator aircraft will continue to test the various systems in the lab in preparation for testing under real conditions. First flight is currently scheduled for 2020.

“We chose Ipanema because it is our platform that requires the least modifications to receive electric propulsion systems,” said Daniel Moczydlowe, Embraer’s vice president of engineering and technology, when announcing the project back in May.

“It will be a prototype system designed to test technology on short, 30-minute flights.”

The Ipanema project will also be used to further the EmbraerX division with its development of its urban air taxi, an eVTOL (electric vertical take off and landing aircraft), which the company unveiled in June during the Uber Elevate Summit 2019 in Washington, DC.

The EmbraerX eVTOL unveiled at Uber Elevate in 2019. Embraer
The EmbraerX eVTOL unveiled at Uber Elevate Summit in 2019. Embraer

The new air taxi is set to be optimised for the urban environment, and focusing on high reliability, low operating costs, and low noise footprint.

“As a market accelerator committed to developing solutions to transform life’s experiences, we have been combining human-centered design thinking with our 50-year history of building and engineering expertise in a unique manner,” said Antonio Campello, President & CEO, EmbraerX.

“These are the factors behind the technical progress and leading-edge innovations we are bringing to this new eVTOL concept.”

“Embraer’s team focused on the customer experience with their latest vehicle concept, using built-in redundant systems to achieve optimal safety, while also achieving low noise output with an eight-rotor system, which enables span-wise lift,” added Mark Moore, Engineering Director of Aviation, Uber.

“Our team looks forward to continued collaboration with the Embraer team to achieve a quiet, green, and safe, aerial ridesharing vehicle.”

In June Uber announced that Melbourne would be one of three cities, along with Los Angeles and Fort Worth, to be used as a testbed for the new form of zero emissions “flightshare” transport it intends to bring to market by 2023.

Uber has not yet announced which of several air taxi aircraft it will use in the Uber Air pilot.

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