At the opening of LABACE 2022 yesterday, Secretary of Civil Aviation Ronei Glanzman, Brazil's highest-ranking aviation official, gave a strong endorsement of the nascent urban air mobility (UAM) industry. ”Support for UAMs is a clear public policy,” Glanzman told AIN. Local aircraft manufacturer Embraer is a major investor in its Eve spinoff, which is planning to manufacture an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, although it isn’t displaying a prototype this week at the show.
He listed what makes Brazil an ideal incubator for a UAV ecosystem: “ANAC, DECEA, Embraer, and WEG”—referring to the country's civil aviation agency, airspace managing agency, homegrown aircraft manufacturer, and electric motor maker in the southern state of Santa Catarina, respectively.
ANAC is one of the top four certifiers of aircraft, the others being the FAA, EASA, and Transport Canada. Glanzman noted that Brazil was part of ICAO's "petite comitê" that facilitated the return of the Boeing 737 Max to service and is one of the few ICAO Level 1 countries.
DECEA, meanwhile, has been supportive of creating UAM airspace routes. Glanzman said São Paulo's "more challenging" airspace was the reason that Eve's UAM trial with helicopters playing the part of eVTOLs took place in Rio rather than the larger city. He listed cities such as Recife, Salvador, Porto Alegre, and Curitiba as "large cities, densely populated, where mobility is important and there will be a role for UAMs.”
The ability to certify new aircraft requires, of course, that such aircraft be produced. Brazil remains the home of Embraer, and much of Eve's engineering is conducted at the airframer's Peixote Gomide facilities.
Additionally, WEG is the world's largest electric motor manufacturer and supplied the motors for Embraer's first experimental electric aircraft, a converted Ipanema cropduster, though Embraer said that WEG is not involved in Eve's new vehicle.
The secretary also brought up the theme of “capillarity," generally used to mean the extension of air travel to unserved cities far from the large urban centers. In the context of EVTOLs, though, he listed satellite cities such as Sorocaba, São Roque, and others that are not São Paulo suburbs but reasonably close. Glanzman sees eVTOLs as linking these cities to airports, serving people who are sufficiently far enough that ground travel is inconvenient.
Two general aviation airports in Rio and São Paulo—Jacarepaguá and Campo de Marte—are being auctioned as a group and, Glanzman declared, "These are two great poles for eVTOLs.” The group that acquires the concessions will have in each of Brazil's two largest cities large bases that UAM studies have said are needed.
With a supportive government including an aircraft certification agency, cooperative airspace organization, major aircraft manufacturer, and large densely populated cities, Glanzman said Brazil "has the DNA for eVTOLs. It is like the recipe for a cake—you just have to put it in the oven and watch it grow."