May 9, 2012

Agrishow Features Ag Aircraft that Utilize Ethanol-Based Fuel

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

During the recently ended Agrishow 2012 in Brazil, one of the featured displays was the first airplane developed to run on ethanol-based fuel made from sugarcane. Developed by Embraer, sales of the Ipanema BEM 202A has increased 300% since 2007 and it is now the top selling agricultural aircraft in Brazil. Over 1,500 planes are currently in use in Brazil, which represents 75% of the total agricultural fleet.

In 2012, Embraer is anticipating selling 60 new Ipanema aircraft surpassing last year's sales of 58 units. Embraer says that the ethanol-based fuel gives the engine more power and that the plane can fly faster. The potential for increased sales of agricultural aircraft in Brazil is promising since only 15% of the cropland in Brazil uses aircraft to apply chemicals.

Other aircraft manufactures have taken notice of the work being done in Brazil with ethanol-based fuel. The state of Sao Paulo is working in conjunction with Boeing and two Brazilian airlines to develop and test commercial airplane engines using the same ethanol-based fuel

A number of executive aircraft were also on display at the Agrishow. Many large agribusinesses in Brazil have multiple properties scattered throughout the country and the use of executive aircraft can save time and money compared to the potentially arduous trip required to travel between properties over poorly maintained roads.

According to the National Aviation Agency (ANAC), during the last four years, the number of executive aircraft in use in Brazil has increased 32%. The leader in the manufacture of executive aircraft is Lider Aviacao with over 700 aircraft sold between airplanes and helicopters. One of Lider's top sellers is the Baron G58 model, which is a versatile and robust aircraft capable of operating with short or non-asphalted runways, which makes it suited for farmers and ranchers in Brazil.

TAM Aviacao Executiva was also promoted the Cessna Stationair Turbo 206 at the Agrishow. This is a single engine plane with high wings making it easier for farmers and ranchers to better visualize their crops.