Flying in Brazil Archive

Green Ipanema

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Green is fashionable these days, but Embraer now makes its Ipanema (the EMB 200 series) agplane in an E96 ethanol-burning version. It uses a modified 320-hp Lycoming IO-540 that has bored-out fuel nozzles for more power than standard-issue IO-540s. As a result, the Ipanema also burns more of that eco-friendly fuel. In the past 40 years of its production, Embraer has sold 1,050 Ipanemas. But since 2004, 50 were all ethanol-burners. These are called EMB 202As.

The River of Meat

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Like meat? Go to Brazil. I’m visiting with Embraer here, and its employees are fond of a certain type of restaurant.

They’re called churrascarias. I think that’s Portugese for “carnivore temple.” You go in, sit down, and pretty soon here comes a waiter with a huge spit of meat. You take a slice. He comes back again. You take another slice. This goes on until you turn on the “no mas” indicator on your table. No kidding. And even then, the guy keeps coming back at what seems like one-minute intervals. It’s a veritable river of meat. This keeps up until you either die of a burst stomach or urgently signal for the bill.

I took home a card showing all the meat cuts. It’s a meat road map. Now I can tell you what I ate: filet mignon, rump ( I don’t speak Portugese, so I just nodded when he said “Lagarto”), neck meat, and hump. That’s the large blister-o-meat on the back of a bull’s neck. Washed it down with a thimble of “43”–a Spanish herb liquere.

Phenom time

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

I’m currently in Brazil, at Embraer’s Sao Jose dos Campos plant. But today I flew on the company shuttle ( a Brasilia) to Embraer’s Gavaio Peixoto airport (SBGP)/factory/flight test center to fly the Phenom 100. The plane I flew was prototype number 1, and loaded with racks of flight test instrumentation. Anyway, the weather was somehat crappy, what with a 500-foot ceiling and torrential rain. It came down in buckets, filling the SBGP water-test trench in seconds. It is summer here, you know.

Aboard were Embraer captain Luiz Cesar, communications strategy advisor Danial Bachmann, and flight test engineer Maximilian Kleinubung. Kleinubung wanted me to do some 5- and 3-degree banked turns for auopilot data, but that wasn’t to be, as we’ll see.

The flight gave me a chance to fly the G1000 Prodigy avionics, which featured a test version of SVS and HITS imagery/cues. Got in two instrument approaches–both in anger (i.e. real IFR weather, not rage at the approaches themselves)–an ILS to Campinas Airport, an an RNAV back into SBGP. There was turbulence, but the P100 rode it well. The onboard Garmin radar served us well, too.

The trip to Campinas was vector-laden and procedurally complicated, and the weather helped in setting me to make peace with the G1000 in a high-workload environment. You can’t beat this kind of dual.

All the vectoring, and a low approach, made us burn up a lot of fuel in the fuel-unfriendly low-altitude environment. So there was no time for stalls or single-engine work. Let along the autopilot data. So it was up to 340 for some cruise numbers, then back to SBGP. In all, a great way to spend the day. And a fine airplane.

By tomorrow, the front is supposed to pass to the northeast, and skies will hopefully clear well enough for those stalls and V1 cuts.