Embraer's Agricultural Aviation Division delivered 65 Ipanema aircraft in 2023, an increase of 18% compared to the previous year. As a result, in December, the company reached the milestone of 1,600 units produced and delivered over the aircraft's five decades of uninterrupted production.
Since the launch of the new version of the EMB-203 model in 2020, the company has seen continuous growth in sales and plans to increase production to 70 planes this year.
"Agribusiness has a significant positive impact on Brazil's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and we are very pleased to see how the Ipanema has contributed to the sector's high productivity, efficiency, and sustainability," says Sany Onofre, Manager of Embraer's Ipanema Program.
As the leader in the Brazilian aerial applications market, the Ipanema brings innovations and improvements that increase robustness with low operating costs and carbon emissions. The Ipanema is the only agricultural aircraft certified and produced in series to fly on ethanol, a renewable energy source that provides increased power to the aircraft's engine.
The first version of the aircraft, the EMB-200, made its first flight on 30 July 1970 and was certified on 14 December 1971. The aircraft was equipped with a 260 hp (190 kW) piston engine. Series production started in 1972 by Embraer. In September 1974, the EMB-201 was introduced, including many improvements such as a 300 hp (220 kW) engine, new propeller, new wings and increased capacity.
In 1982, the production of Ipanema was transferred to Indústria Aeronáutica Neiva, recently acquired by Embraer. In 1992, a new model, called EMB-202 or Ipanemão (big Ipanema), was released. The new aircraft had improvements in aerodynamics, a 40% greater capacity, and optional, modern equipment for electrostatic aerial application.
In the following years, Neiva made significant improvements to the aircraft, such as adding winglets to the wingtips, adding an air conditioning system to the cabin, lowering the position of the wings, decreasing resistance and reducing the weight of the exhaust system.
Since ethanol is largely available in Brazil, costing only about 25-30% as much as aviation gasoline, many Brazilian farmers have attempted to fuel gasoline-powered Ipanemas with alcohol, with varying degrees of success. The result of this was the development of an alcohol-powered Ipanema, which was certified by the Brazilian General Command for Aerospace Technology (CTA) on 19 October 2004. The alcohol-fueled Ipanema engine also has 20% lower maintenance and operational costs.
In 2015, an Ipanema with improved winglets was presented at the Agrishow Agricultural Exposition. The new winglets, designed by the Department of Aeronautical Engineering of the University of São Paulo's São Carlos School of Engineering, increased the performance of the aircraft by 20%.
In August 2021 Embraer announced that it had successfully conducted the first test flight of an electric-powered EMB-203 Ipanema. Developed to evaluate new technologies and solutions that enable 100% electric and more sustainable aeronautical propulsion.