Odds and Ends: KC-390 first flight; A400M; AirAsia 8501; Bombardier credibility

KC-390 first flight: Embraer’s largest airplane ever built, the KC-390 tanker/transport, made its first flight today.

We profiled the airplane last October following our visit to Brazil.

The airplane fulfills needs for Brazil’s vast geography to supply its population and to serve as a military platform. It also gives EMB valuable experience in developing large aircraft. The cross-section is about the size of a Boeing 767. It’s slightly larger than a Lockheed Martin C-130 but smaller than the Airbus A400M.

Speaking of A400M: Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus Group, had some comments about this problem child at Airbus in his annual press conference dinner in Paris. Aviation Week reports.

AirAsia 8501: Reuters reported last week two unidentified sources said the captain was out of his seat cutting power to two computers, working a flaw, when AirAsia flight 8501 went out of control and crashed into the Java Sea. Now there’s a report disputing this.

Bombardier credibility: Ahead of the Feb. 12 year end 2014 earnings call, Bloomberg News has a story that focuses on Bombardier’s credibility issues with investors. CEO Pierre Beaudoin has his work cut out for him on the call to reassure investors.

11 Comments on “Odds and Ends: KC-390 first flight; A400M; AirAsia 8501; Bombardier credibility

  1. During the last decade the A400M ran into a 20% cost rise. I guess many will chuckle if we compare that to other large defense programs internally.

    But contrary to civil business, the A400M is very politcal. A handful of countries at the controls with its changing governments and opposition parties. During the worst financial crises in many decades, cutting pensions, healthcare & jobs everywhere. In a part of the world where defense is not a tool of pride and investment in power projection and security, but a necessary burden we cut back as much as possible. We were raised by generations hating weapons & war, when it was down the street & against your family.

    Large multinational defense projects have always been a pain .. … … in Europe.

    Apart from that, the A400M is a very capable with little/no competition.

    • “Apart from that, the A400M is a very capable with little/no competition.”
      This does not mean that the plane is needed. This plane should not have been built, Airbus wanted to compete with the Boeing C-17 globemaster, but Boeing is a company in its own league when it comes to military hardware. I hope they have learned the lesson. The KC-390 is more affordable and makes more sense to acquire.

      • By requirements the A400M is more of a grown up C160
        to accomodate the things “grown up” from the 60ties.

        Actually it targets what the C160 was used for ( which only partly overlaps the original design targets.)

        Only a very specific group tries to show that the A400M is an obviously sub par swipe at the glorious C-17.

  2. The problem with Pierre Beaudoin is that he’s a big part of the problem. It’s time to have real leadership.

  3. I find it implausible that the crew needs to get out of their seat to power off a system.

    Need that confirmed of course but makes no sense.

  4. Correct me if I’m wrong but the crisis was not a European thing, it was global. Defense budgets everywhere were cut and adjustments had to be made. I can’t really put my finger on what exactly could be done to help the program but hopefully with the the guy at the helm starting on 3/1 will have a positive impact.

  5. KC-390
    The first flight seems to have been “unremarkable” in the best meaning of the word.
    Presence in the news is meager. ;-(

  6. I wouldn’t be surprised if Embraer does it again.

    The E-jets were launched while MD (717), Fokker and BAE collapsed with determined financial government support, using the best suppliers, R&D institutes and engineers available in the West.

    They captured the ~100 seat market and can be considered one of the most successful government subsidized enterprises of Brazil.

    It seems they are doing the same now with this KC-390. An affordable tanker/transport using proven technology, slightly larger and more capable for the huge C-130 replacement market. As soon as it ramps up, they’ll no doubt doubt stretch it a bit and put PW GTF’s or Leaps on them.

    Large potential sales all over the world..

  7. Would a new fuselage on the KC-390 provide an interesting product for Embraer in the middle of the A320/B737 playing field? Engine power is about right. Development costs largely already paid for. Any fundamental objection to the high wing?

    Of course, the Russians would simply cut more windows and install seats, then declare it a new airliner.

    • yes, there would be many problems.

      the aerodynamics of the main fuselage are compromised in order to support the military cargo mission (big door on the back, MLG in pods outside the fuselage, high wing with wingbox outside the main fuselage)

      structurally inefficiencies, due to the need for military levels of durability, cargo handling, the T-tail and the previously mentioned wingbox and MLG placement make it uncompetitive on weight

      lastly, the structure of the fuselage does not lend itself to pax on the deck and cargo in the belly.

      the Wing might be somewhat reusable when integrated with a new commercial fuselage with integrated wingbox, and I think they thought they were going to do that as the C-390 was originally to be based on the e-jet, but they abandoned that pretty early on.

    • When was the last time the same structural wing was mated to two distinctly different fuselages? Tu-95 Tu-114 maybe ?

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