Embraer’s KC-390 nears delivery

May 28, 2019 © Leeham News: Embraer’s KC-390 multi-role tanker transport is nearing delivery of the first aircraft to the launch customer, the Brazilian Air Force.

KC-390. Photo: Embraer.

In a briefing in advance of the Paris Air Show at Embraer’s Unidade Gavião Peixoto Airport 225 miles from its Sao Jose dos Campos headquarters, program VP Walter Pinto said that most of the required testing is complete.

What’s left?

Next phase of tests

Four major test areas must be completed, which can occur after delivery. Embraer is taking the air force’s first airplane to the Paris Air Show next month. After that, the airplane will be handed over.

The tests that will be run in conjunction with the air force are:

  • Continuous computerized drop point certification;
  • Combat off-loading;
  • Certain aerial refueling tests; and
  • The airplane’s self-protection system.

The KC-390 received certification last October from Brazil’s ANAC, the equivalent of the USA’s Federal Aviation Administration and Europe’s EASA. It is routine for governments to require civilian certification of major components and parts.

Original purpose

The original purpose for the KC-390 was to serve, in addition to its military roles, as a transport of goods to the far-flung reaches of Brazil to support local populations.

The airplane has primitive airfield performance capabilities. Payload is 26,000kg.

It falls between the venerable Lockheed C-130 and the Airbus A400M, both turboprops. The KC-390 is a twin jet using International Aero Engines V2500 power plants.

It is Embraer’s largest aircraft, about the size of a Boeing 737.

Production of aircraft No. 8 is underway at the Peixoto airport, which Embraer owns. This airport is principally a defense facility, although Embraer produces E-Jet wings and executive jet components here.

One KC-390 was damaged beyond repair in a runway accident at Peixoto.

Boeing joint venture

It is well known that Boeing and Embraer created a joint venture for Embraer’s Commercial Aviation unit. Boeing will own 80% and Embraer 20% of the new JV, which will be named Boeing Brasil-Commercial and take over all the EMB facilities at Sao Jose dos Campos. The executive jets produced there will move to Peixoto. This business unit is not part of the Boeing-Embraer JV package.

But the KC-390 program is an offshoot of the commercial deal.

A new JV, which has yet to be named, will be 51% owned by Embraer and 49% owned by Boeing.

Embraer’s Pinto says Embraer will gain access to markets through Boeing it doesn’t have now. He said that only Boeing sales will be the benefit to Embraer.

The joint ventures are undergoing international government approvals before they become effective. Embraer hopes this process will be complete by year end.

16 Comments on “Embraer’s KC-390 nears delivery

  1. Without knowing all the details, I think most can see this KC390 is basically a very good proposition.

    The C130 is a 60 yr old design on low rate production with a size limited cargo bay

    The A400M is expensive overkill for many operators/ applications.

    A nice addition for Boeings defense division. And for Embraer an opportunity to get a foothold with DoD and congress.

    • In case A400M is an overkill for many operator and applications how big is the gap between C-130 and C-17 for USAF?

      The C-130 is to small to carry modern infantry fighting vehicle. A Stryker barley fits in without weapon stations. A Stryker with a gun turret – no way.

  2. Kind of odd to slot it between the C130 and A400 as it carries less than a Herc. by 20,000 lbs or so.

  3. It’s a great aircraft, but for those of us in the commentariat it’s always a question of what could be done to make it better? The obvious answer is that there won’t be many V2500’s made over the next 4 decades; if it were to be a ‘new C130 replacement’ for the USAF in any way I would think it would have newer engines, but then the KC-46 procurement provides a logical rebuttal.

    • The US military has a long and proud history of being the final dumping ground for technology that the private sector has move past long ago.

      • Bruce:

        You mistake dumping ground vs a long lived program.

        And please note, the KC-135R has CFM engines. The fleet was large enough to justify a re-enigne, one of the few that was successful (I don’t know how the DC-8 fared economically with their but it did not last long)

        KCs get relatively low time on the air frame and they live a very long time (not to mention the B52-H)

        So, what new engine was available for the US KC program?

        A330? Nope, no NEO and the is not a A330MRT NEO either is there?

        The P&W engine chosen for the 767 have proven (after a development issue ala much less so than the TG\rent 1000 debacle) to be very good engine and hgave been PIPPED up regularly. Its not an NEO but its very good and its also low cost (they don’t fly that much so the economics change from commercial return and they weight less).

        C-5? New engines

        C-17? Best engines at the time and what would you replace it with in the thrust class (and get the reverses on it that allow it to manner in close ramp space?)

        C-130J?: New engines (of course while labled RR they were devloped by Allison aka USA.

        I would call your statement sour grapes.

        • The B52s has a structural rebuild in the early 70s for low level flight- they were designed as high altitude bombers like others from the 50s.

          In the early 1960s, the three-phase High Stress program was launched to counter structural fatigue, enrolling aircraft at 2,000 flying hours.Follow-up programs were conducted, such as a 2,000-hour service life extension to select airframes in 1966–1968, and the extensive Pacer Plank reskinning, completed in 1977. The wet wing introduced on G and H models was even more susceptible to fatigue, experiencing 60% more stress during flight than the old wing. The wings were modified by 1964 under ECP 1050. This was followed by a fuselage skin and longeron replacement (ECP 1185) in 1966, and the B-52 Stability Augmentation and Flight Control program (ECP 1195) in 1967. Fuel leaks due to deteriorating Marman clamps continued to plague all variants of the B-52. To this end, the aircraft were subjected to Blue Band (1957), Hard Shell (1958), and finally QuickClip (1958) programs.

          Of course their replacements, the B70, B1, B2 were ‘more advanced’

          The KC135s have had multiple structural updates as well apart from the new ‘half french’ engine.

  4. I am getting conflicting data.

    C-130-J-30 has more volume and can carry and M113. That is a large and boxy vehicle.

    I don’t see comparable info on the KC-390 – chart lists a lot of other payload but not a vehicle size (then more info on the box size needed). Neither one will carry a MBT.

    Herc has better range and it can refuel a jet (Marines do it off a KC130 all the time)

    Would need to see range vs payload breakdown as well.

    Can the C130 carry its full load further, if so then it could carry more shorter.

    Still seems really close and I would call pretty equal but will do more sleuthing.

    • Why do you think its called KC-390. It means it can be a tanker with under wing pods. Most Hercs arent the KC130 version.
      googling the numbers give this
      For the KC 390 –
      80 passengers or
      64 airborne troops or
      6 pallets (68″ X 108″) or
      74 litter patients with 2 medical personnel or
      2-3 Humvee and Agrale Marruá or an Astros II MLRS or a LAV III and VBTP-MR Guarani
      For the C130H –
      92 passengers or
      64 airborne troops or
      74 litter patients with 5 medical crew or
      6 pallets or
      2–3 Humvees or
      2 M113 armored personnel carriers

      The interior box size are ( incl ramp)
      KC390 L 18.54m W 3.45 Ht 2.94 & aft wing box 3.2

      C130J-30 L 20.02 W 3.05 Ht 2.74 (max)
      The USAF has 100 of the shorter C130J (L=15.62m) and 113 of longer -30 version

      Some of the J seem to not be able to handle the loads.

  5. Duker: The wing work is Service Life Extensions.

    That is common on air-frame designed for one term of hours of use and then gets extended.

    C5, F=18, A-10, F-15 etc.

    • Service life extension? Its a whole new centre box, this isnt for the old Hercules its for planes which be 15 years old at the max- the USAF took a while to buy the J version behind other AF, the first planes being delivered to Little Rock AFB in 2003. The phrase is used to add some time to 30yr old aircraft

      Service life extension was the same bull$#@ used by GE for the replacement of large sections of their nearly new GEnx on Dremaliners

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