Gavião Peixoto, Brazil, 21 July 2017 – The new Embraer military tanker and airlifter, the KC-390, concluded this week a successful 40-day demonstration tour. During this tour it flew over 19 countries and was presented to nine nations in Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania. In total, 130 flawless flight hours were recorded, including several demonstration flights with representatives of potential operators.
The No.2 prototype aircraft departed from Gavião Peixoto unit, in the state of São Paulo, and headed towards Sweden, where it was shown without bringing any order from the Swedish Air Force before flying to Le Bourget Airport. There, the KC-390 was exhibited in the static park and in the air at the 52nd annual Paris Air Show, last June. After France, the KC-390 continued to a series of demonstrations, before returning to Brazil this week.
“This tour allowed several representatives of potential operators to familiarize with the KC-390 and to learn about its flexibility, which makes it capable of carrying out a broad range of missions”, said Jackson Schneider, CEO and President of Embraer Defense & Security. “Everyone who had the chance to fly the aircraft praised its operational capabilities and its advanced design, which includes proven latest-generation technologies.”
The aircraft demonstrated robustness and full readiness throughout the tour, in which 52 landings were made in 18 different countries. In total, the KC-390 covered 49,537 nautical miles (91,743 km), equivalent to more than two flights around the planet over the equator. During demonstrations, the aircraft was evaluated in high temperature and high altitude take-offs, in low-level navigation (flying at 120ºF, or 49ºC, ambient temperature) and in simulated operational conditions, such as paratroopers dropping.
“We are very satisfied with the maturity that this product has already reached and fully confident that its certification will be achieved as scheduled. Soon, the KC-390 will be completely ready to meet all requirements for which it was designed, making it a true force multiplier, ready to serve any nation”, said the CEO of Embraer.
The KC-390 is a tactical transport aircraft developed to establish new standards in its category while presenting the lowest life cycle cost on the market. It is capable of carrying out various missions, such as transporting cargo, troops or paratroopers, aerial refueling, in addition to supporting humanitarian missions, search and rescue missions, medical evacuation and aerial firefighting. The KC-390 can transport up to 26 metric tons of cargo at a maximum speed of 470 knots (870 km/h), as well as operating in hostile environments, including unprepared or damaged runways.
The KC-390 is a Brazilian Air Force (FAB) owned project, which hired Embraer in 2009 to develop the aircraft. The aircraft test campaign is advancing in an extremely satisfactory way, meeting all aircraft requirements and validating all performance and capability objectives determined through the use of advanced engineering tools. Since the beginning of the flight test campaign, in October 2015, the two existing KC-390 prototypes logged more than 1,200 flight hours. The Initial Operational Capability of the “KC” should be achieved by the end of this year and deliveries are scheduled to begin in the first semester of 2018.
Embraer presently has export orders for some thirty KC-390s, the largest customer being the Colombian Air Force with twelve aircraft. Hopes of selling some ten KC-390s to the Swedish Air Force proved vain, while the Brazilian Air Force intends to purchase 28 KC-390s on top of the two prototypes — without being able to finance such a large deal since a cash-strapped Brazil has no available budget these days to replace FAB’s small second-hand C-130H Hercules fleet after priority was placed on the F-X2 (Saab Gripen E) program.
Just like it is the case with the bigger Airbus A400M in Europe, the Embraer KC-390 in Brazil is a very ambitious program which aims at replacing some 500 C-130/An 12 veterans military cargos over the two decades to come. And contrary to that of the A400M, the KC-390 development and test programs followed a faultless path, something which gives proof to the excellence of this latest Brazilian aeronautical design. //