The first production Embraer KC-390 made its inaugural flight in Gavião Peixoto, Brazil on Wednesday. The aircraft is the first of the final version of the project, but will not yet be delivered to the Brazilian Air Force (FAB).
As agreed in July this year with the FAB, the first production KC-390 will be used by Embraer in the final phase of the flight test campaign. In May of this year the project team lost prototype number 001 in an incident. According to the manufacturer, the test fleet has already registered more than 1,900 flight hours since 2015.
The next step is to obtain civil certification from ANAC (Brazilian national civil aviation agency), which should be obtained soon. The first delivery to the FAB is scheduled for 2019 – Brazil will receive 28 aircraft in the next 12 years.
The next customer of the KC-390 should be Portugal, which is still negotiating the last details of the contract. The country is also one of the strategic partners in the project, providing a series of components for the aircraft – through Embraer’s subsidiaries in Portugal.
“Today we celebrate another important milestone into the production of the KC-390,” said Jackson Schneider, president and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security. “This aircraft combines outstanding flexibility with superior performance and productivity.”
Successor to the C-130 Hercules
The KC-390 is the heaviest airplane ever produced in Brazil. The Embraer multi-mission freighter can take off with a maximum weight of 81 tons, something equivalent to 25 Tucanos turbo-propellers on the scale. The aircraft was designed to be the main transport aircraft of the Brazilian Air Force and to replace the veterans C-130 Hercules, who have been flying in Brazil since 1964.
With the proposed replacement of the Hercules, the KC-390 was developed to fulfill the same missions of the old Lockheed Martin turbo-propeller, but with practically double the speed (up to 850 km / h) and more cargo, with maximum capacity of 26 tons (6 tons more than Hercules). And the aircraft’s to-do list is huge.
In addition to transporting equipment and troops, the Embraer military freighter can launch cargo and parachute, refuel other aircraft in flight (and also be restocked), conduct search and rescue missions with special equipment, forest firefighting and even flights to Antarctica . There is even a study to convert the KC-390 into “Gunship”, an attack aircraft with devastating power.
Each unit of the KC-390 is valued at about $ 85 million (about 319.3 million). In addition to meeting FAB’s needs, Embraer believes that the new military jet can also be one of the main market options in the medium-sized military cargo segment over the next 20 years, replacing former Hercules fleets worldwide.