Embraer commits to ambitious environmental targets and begins electric demonstrator aircraft flight tests

Embraer is committing to carbon neutral operations by 2040.

“We recognise the urgency of the climate crisis and we are fully committed to a more sustainable future,” says president and CEO Francisco Gomes Neto. “We are stepping up our efforts to minimise our carbon footprint by remaining dedicated to innovating solutions that have a broader impact for our customers, our local communities and our aircraft.

“ESG (environmental, social and governance) is at the heart of Embraer’s purpose and that’s why we’ve included ESG as one of the pillars in our strategic plan ‘Fit for Growth’, aligning business strategy with social responsibility and environmental practices.”

Embraer says it will develop a range of products, services, and disruptive sustainable technologies, such as electrification, hybrid, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and other energy alternatives. The company claims it will also offset any residual emissions that cannot be reduced through efficiency projects, available alternative energy or advancing technology.

A key step has already been taken – Embraer has begun the flight test campaign of its electric demonstrator aircraft, which has been developed to evaluate new technologies and solutions that enable 100 per cent electric and more sustainable aeronautical propulsion.

Tests are being conducted at Embraer’s facility in Gavião Peixoto, in São Paulo, Brazil. Power, performance, control, thermal management, and operation safety are the primary features being evaluated in these manned first flights. The goal is to demonstrate real flight conditions through results obtained from computational simulations, lab tests and ground integration of technology, which have taken place since the second half of 2019.

“The first flight of an aircraft is always an important milestone, and the takeoff of our first zero-emission electric aircraft also represents the relevant contribution of our teams and partners to the energy transition of the sector,” says vice president of engineering, technology development and corporate strategy Luis Carlos Affonso. “We are committed to seeking solutions to enable the future of a more sustainable aviation and innovation will play a key role in this journey.”

The project is part of a technological cooperation between Embraer and two of Brazil’s largest electric mobility solutions providers, WEG and EDP. The partnership has “increased knowledge of the technologies that are needed to increase the energy efficiency of an aircraft, and the electric devices that must be integrated into an innovative propulsion system”, Embraer says.

The manufacturer has also announced that Embraer Executive Jets, headquartered in Melbourne, Florida, is the company’s first industrial facility that will use SAF regularly by the end of 2021. SAF will be used in Embraer’s executive jets demonstration and production flights.

But Embraer acknowledges that it can only play a role in fixing the climate crisis, which demands a “global and multi-sector approach”. To that end, it recently joined the ‘Target True Zero’ initiative launched by the World Economic Forum, as part of a commitment to achieving zero-emissions aviation goals through new propulsion systems and fuel technologies. The initiative aims to identify ways to accelerate the deployment of zero-emissions aviation by leveraging electric and hydrogen technologies.

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