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Tests with the electric manned aircraft were already started
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Technicians and engineers from the Electric Vehicle Program (VE), which is provided by Binational Itaipu, and the company ACS Aviation, based in São José dos Campos (SP), started this week in Foz do Iguaçu (PR), the pre-commissioning stage of the first electric manned aircraft in Latin America.

The prototype, which is based on the aerobatic sports model ACS-100 SORA, for two people, arrived on Friday (22) in the Center for Research, Development and Assembly of Vehicles Powered by Electricity (CPDM-VE) of the binational. The model with electric propulsion is called SORA-e.

The ACS president, engineer Alexandre Zaramella, and the director of development, engineer Conrado Almeida, are in town this week to monitoring the beginning of work (photo).

“This stage is important to the project because it is the moment when the main ground tests are carried out. Then, finally, the certification of the model and the inaugural flight will be done with the competent bodies,” the Brazilian coordinator of VE Program, Celso Novais, said.

According to him, the expectation is to conduct the first flight with SORA-e between October and November this year in location yet to be determined – Iguassu Falls or São José dos Campos.

Novais added that the initial schedule released by the VE Program, last year, for the beginning of the tests with the electric aircraft had to be changed due to logistical difficulties. In order to be transported to Iguassu Falls, the model had to be divided at the point between the tail cone and the fuselage.

“It was a complex job that required a re-engineering of the project, so we did not lose the structural characteristics of the aircraft,” he said.

About the aircraft

With a wingspan of 8 meters (from one end to the another of the wing) and 650 kilos of total weight, SORA-e will have autonomy of an hour of flight and maximum speed of 340 km/h.

The model will be composed by a dual electric engine manufactured in Slovenia, with maximum power of 140 kW, and a set of six packs of batteries, containing 16 cells each. The structure is made of carbon fiber and the panel will have display with touch screen technology.

Zaramella explained that the model has arrived in Iguassu Falls with almost 90% of the work completed. “All the structural part is ready and the engine is also installed. There are missing only batteries and propeller. This latter will come from the United States, which is especially manufactured for the model.”

The executive pointed out that the transformation of the combustion model in an electric one has demanded many studies and adaptations, including changes in the wing to improve aerodynamics.

“The difficulty in this project is that we are developing something totally new in the field of aeronautics. In the future, all this work, the history, and the technical notes will serve as a basis for certification of other electrical aerial vehicles,” he commented.

Partnership with Itaipu

Zaramella explained that ACS-100 SORA started to be developed by the company in 2006 and flew for the first time two years later, always with a combustion engine.

According to the executive, the partnership with Itaipu to develop SORA-e intends to position the company in the current international context, especially in Europe and the United States.

“Our vision is that, in the future, means of transportation, including the ones by air, will migrate to electric engines. For this reason, all the large companies [in this industry], such as Airbus, Boeing and Embraer are already developing or researching electric aircrafts,” he said.

On the other hand, for the VE Program, the interest in the partnership is the field of composite materials technology used in the aeronautic industry – and which are key requirements to reducing the weight of the prototypes. “The weight reduction will lead to a significant improvement in the autonomy of electric vehicles,” Novais said.