Embraer’s C-390 builds momentum; civilian freighter pondered

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 By Scott Hamilton

 Dec. 11, 2023, © Leeham News: Embraer’s flagship defense program, the KC/C-390 finally took off this year. Orders began rolling in, after a long drought and cancellations by the Brazilian government that cast doubt over the viability of the program. This month, an order for an undisclosed number of C-390s were announced with South Korea. Embraer is in contention for an order for around 80 transports from India.

Brazil, Portugal, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, and the Czech Republic have ordered the C-390. Some are in NATO configuration.

Embraer C-390 Millennium. Credit: Embraer.

The C-390 Millenium also comes in a tanker version, the KC-390, The twin-jet is about the size of a Boeing 737 dimensionally and a fuselage cross-width about the diameter of a Boeing 767. It is the Brazilian company’s largest aircraft. Its closest competitor is the Lockheed Martin C-130J.

The C-390 and the single-engine propeller trainer, the Super Tucano, are the defense unit’s to leading programs. In a media briefing last month, Bosco da Costa Jr, President, and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security, said the company developed more than 20 models of various types since Embraer was formed 54 years ago.

In 2017, Embraer and Boeing proposed a joint venture by which Embraer Commercial Aircraft (ECA) would divest from the Group into Boeing Brasil. Boeing would own 80% of the JV and Embraer would own 20%. A JV for the KC-390, with a 51%-49% in favor of Embraer would provide EMB with Boeing’s marketing heft to market the then-stalled sales of the tanker-transport. Both JVs were terminated by Boeing in April 2020 before the combination could be consummated. Since then, Embraer agreed with US defense contractor L3 Harris to help market the airplane.

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