In this month’s edition of AgAir Update, the cover story is about my evaluation flight of Embraer’s redesigned Ipanema EMB203 aircraft. Without hesitation, I can say I enjoyed flying it. The last 20 years of my active career in ag-flying was in a turbine Thrush. Anytime I have the opportunity to fly an aircraft that is completely different, I am eager to do so.
One of the things that I have always felt strongly about when it comes to ag-aircraft design is the attention paid to aerodynamics. The EMB203 is an exemplary model of using aerodynamics to improve the performance of an aircraft. I realize adding more horsepower to an already certified ag-plane has its certification challenges. However, to return to the “drawing board” to make airframe changes that improve performance can be even more challenging.
Embraer has the advantage of access to personnel, design and manufacturing equipment of a large and successful aircraft factory. Based in Botucatu, Brazil, the EMB203 is built at the same facility as Embraer’s business jets.
Hopefully, when you read the article it will give you a greater insight to the attributes of this aircraft. The Ipanema is a mainstay ag-plane in Brazil that meets the demands for providing a smaller and efficient ag-plane.
While in Botucatu, I had the pleasure of visiting my old friends at AeroGlobo. Based at their offices is an AT-802 simulator designed to train ag-pilots to aerially fight fires with this specific model of aircraft. I had flown the simulator a couple of times before during visits to Botucatau in the past. As with any new technology, there were issues to be resolved.
The simulator is a visual-style unit constructed from an actual AT-802 cockpit. It is as realistic as anyone could possible hope for when it comes to aircraft simulators. The first time I flew the aircraft, I could not land it! Of course, that is not really what the simulator is designed to teach. Instead, it is about procedures for fighting fires, routine and emergency. However, the last time I flew the simulator I was able to land it due to vast improvements in handling characteristics. Now, the simulator is an excellent trainer for AT-802 pilots.
This month Graham (my son) and I have airline tickets for travel in Argentina. I plan to visit with Diego Cardama, the Argentine Thrush dealer. I’ll also be visiting with several ag-operators between Mendoza and Buenos Aires with a deviation to Cicaré, the Argentine helicopter manufacturer. Cicaré has just built a spray system for the Cicaré 7B model.
Also in this May edition, you will read about the delivery of an AT-504 to Costa Rica. El Colono Agropecuario received its 14th Air Tractor from Lane Aviation of Rosenberg, Texas. I had visited with company manager Christian Castillo Ramos, whose family owns the business, several years ago. It is a very impressive company, and I know you will enjoy reading about Logan Lane and Pat Kornegay’s flight from Texas to Costa Rica in the AT-504.
I just returned from Air Tractor/Transland’s annual spray clinic fly-in at the Air Tractor factory in Olney, Texas. Everything was done first class, except for the weather. That was a shame for those who could not fly in; they missed a fantastic event. There were factory tours, including the new electrostatic painting facility. You will read more in future editions of AgAir Update that will tell all about this new painting system that will vastly improve the already excellent paint quality of Air Tractors. Air Tractor is the only aircraft manufacturer using this painting system, although car manufacturers have been using it for years.
However, despite the weather, several aircraft were able to attend so that Dr. Dennis Gardisser of WRK Arkansas could evaluate their spray patterns. Also, there was a demo flight of the Air Tractor Yield Defender drone. The Texas Department of Ag made a presentation, as did a local chemical representative. Texas barbecue was served for lunch the first day and a fantastic Louisiana crawfish/shrimp boil with boudin and sausage served the second day for lunch.
Summer is coming at us full blast. I plan to be traveling around the countryside visiting ag-operators and AgAir Update advertisers for articles about their businesses. With summer comes heat and we all know what that means; increase in density altitude, which also means the ag-aircraft simply does not perform as well. Keep that in mind when you line up for take off.
Until next month,