On December 13, Embraer delivered the second KC-390 multi-purpose transport aircraft to the Brazilian Air Force (FAB). The jet, registered FAB-2854, took off from the manufacturer’s headquarters in Gaviao Peixoto and proceeded to Anapolis Air Base (Wing 2), where it will be operated by the First Troop Transport Group (1 ° GTT).
The first KC-390 was received by the FAB (which ordered 28 aircraft) in September this year. All aircraft must be delivered by 2024. Another country that also purchased Embraer’s new military jet is Portugal, which is one of the program’s strategic partners – Argentina and the Czech Republic also participate in the project.
The delivery of the first KC-390 is the materialization of the project started by Embraer in partnership with the Brazilian Air Force in 2009, although it accumulated three years of delay due to the economic crisis, which caused the government to delay payments for the development of the aircraft.
Development of the new aircraft also experienced setbacks as a serious incident in November 2017 with the first prototype, which was damaged and was temporarily removed from the testing campaign.
Later, in May 2018, this same KC-390 prototype crossed the runway boundaries and became unrecoverable. In order not to affect the certification campaign, Embraer completed the tests using the first FAB series aircraft, model today registered as FAB-2853. The plane was certified by the Brazilian Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) in October last year.
The FAB’s goal in acquiring the KC-390 is to replace the former Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules turboprop fleet, which has operated in Brazil since 1964. The Embraer aircraft was designed to fulfill the same missions as the former US freighter but with superior performance and capabilities.
The KC-390 outperforms the Hercules at top speed (870 km/h against 660 km/h), flight altitude (11,000 meters against 8,600 meters) and load capacity (26 tons versus 22,6 tons). The range of the aircraft varies according to the load it carries: flying empty the Embraer freighter is able to cover 6,130 km and carrying 26 tons the range is reduced to 2,820 km.
According to Embraer data, the KC-390 can carry up to 80 soldiers (or 64 paratroopers), three armored vehicles or an UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. Among the missions the airplane can accomplish are air cargo launches, firefighting, medical evacuation, search and rescue and in-flight refueling.
Boeing will help sell the C-390
Recently named the C-390 Millennium, the military jet is a product of Embraer Defense & Security, an Embraer division that will not be sold to Boeing. However, the two manufacturers will set up next year the “Boeing Embraer – Defense” joint venture to provide maintenance support and promote the sale of the aircraft in other countries. In this deal, Embraer will have a 51% stake and the rest will be with Boeing.
In addition to meeting the needs of the Brazilian Air Force, Embraer also has high expectations with the C-390. The planemaker wants to make its new military freighter a reference in the segment today dominated by the C-130 Hercules, which has been in the market since the 1950s and has more than 2,700 units produced.