Embraer KC-390

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KC-390
Embraer KC-390, PT-ZNJ - Desfile Cívico 2018 (cropped).jpg
A KC-390 in flight
Role Medium-sized transport aircraft
National origin Brazil
Manufacturer Embraer Defense and Security[1]
First flight 3 February 2015[2]
Introduction 2019 (proposed)[3]
Status Under development
Primary user Brazilian Air Force
Portuguese Air Force
Produced 2014–present
Number built 3
Program cost $2 billion (2014)[4]
Unit cost
US$ 50-55 million (2016)[5]

The Embraer KC-390 is a medium-size, twin-engine jet-powered military transport aircraft under development by Brazilian aerospace manufacturer Embraer, able to perform aerial refuelling and to transport cargo and troops. It is the heaviest aircraft that the company has made to date, and will be able to transport up to 26 tonnes (29 tons) of cargo, including wheeled armoured fighting vehicles.[6][7]

Development[edit]

Studies[edit]

Between 2005 and 2007, Embraer intended to use the wing and GE CF34 engine of the mature Embraer E-190 with a cabin modified as a cargo hold with a rear ramp, closed-loop fly-by-wire and synthetic vision.[8] The initial design was a high-wing E190.[9]

By 2006, Embraer was studying on a military tactical transport design of a similar size to the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, powered by 17,000-22,000 lbf (75.6-98 kN) engines like the Pratt & Whitney PW6000 or Rolls-Royce BR715.[10] In April 2007, Embraer reported it was studying a medium-size airlifter, with the company designation "C-390".[11] The transport aircraft is to incorporate many of the technological solutions from the Embraer E-Jet family series and feature a rear ramp for loading and unloading a wide range of cargo.

In March 2008, the Brazilian Government planned to invest about R$60 million (or US$33 M) in initial development of the aircraft and the Brazilian Air Force was simultaneously finalizing an initial purchase contract for some 22 to 30 aircraft, while Embraer was negotiating with possible partners.[12] In May 2008, the Brazilian Congress released R$800 million (US$440M) to be invested in the project and development of the aircraft. The media also claimed that this aircraft is not only going to be used by the Brazilian Air Force, but also for Brazilian Army and Brazilian Navy, with unconfirmed sales to other government agencies.[13]

Program launch[edit]

On 14 April 2009, Embraer was awarded with a $1.5 billion contract to develop and build two prototypes.[14][15] At the programme launch, the design was all-new, with a new fuselage cross-section, wing, engine and flight deck, beyond the E-190 limited wing surface and engines, to replace the operating envelope of the Brazilian Air Force C-130J. In Embraer's view, the jet engine is sufficiently resilient to dust ingestion, whereas propeller tips close to the ground are susceptible to damage. Embraer also chose the IAE V2500 engine for efficiency in normal conditions rather than performance in unusual conditions like the Antonov An-32.[8]

In March 2010, Embraer drew up a development schedule, with the first prototype aircraft scheduled to be delivered in late 2014.[16] In July, during the Farnborough Airshow, the Brazilian Air Force announced it will order 28 KC-390s and Embraer announced an increase in the cargo capacity to 21 t (46,000 lb).[6][17] During the 2011 Paris Air Show, Embraer announced plans to launch a stretched version of the KC-390 focused on the civil cargo market in 2018, with 200–250 predicted orders over a 10-year period. Two plugs will be added fore and aft of the centre fuselage section increasing internal capacity, but also providing for a side cargo door.[18]

In April 2011, Embraer estimated 695 military transport aircraft will need to be replaced during the following decade.[19]

Partnerships[edit]

In August 2010, Argentine Defence Minister Nilda Garré announced that Argentina will participate in the construction of the aircraft.[20] On 24 August, the defence ministers of Chile and Brazil signed an agreement for Chile's ENAER company to join the KC-390 industry team.[21] Colombia also signed an agreement to join the programme.[22] On 10 September 2010, the Portugal defense minister signed an intentions letter to join the programme.[23] On 14 December 2011, Brazil and Portugal agreed a defense partnership with EEA engineering components to be built by Embraer's subsidiary OGMA.[24]

In April 2012, Boeing and Embraer signed a cooperation agreement.[25] In June, they partnered to develop the KC-390 and possibly to sell it.[26]

Major subcontractors include Aero Vodochody for the rear fuselage section,[27] Rockwell Collins for the avionics,[28] BAE Systems for the fly-by-wire primary flight control system,[29] ELEB for the landing gear,[30] and Rockwell Collins for the cargo handling and aerial delivery system.[31] International Aero Engines (IAE) supplies the V2500-E5 turbofans, its first military application.[32] Fábrica Argentina de Aviones supplies the tail cone, cargo door and landing gear doors.[33]

Flight testing[edit]

KC-390 roll-out on 21 October 2014

Two prototypes were planned by the program. The first prototype (PT-ZNF) rolled out from the Embraer subsidiary plant, Embraer Defense and Security, at Gavião Peixoto, São Paulo on 21 October 2014,[34][35] and flew for the first time on 3 February 2015.[2]

In July 2015, the company announced a two-year delay in the flight test program, citing the devaluation of the Brazilian currency and government spending cuts. However, a second test flight took place at Gavião Peixoto on 26 October 2015.[36] By February 2016, the first prototype had logged more than 100 hours of flight.[37] With the resumption of flight-testing, the manufacturer expected to certify the aircraft in 2017 and begin deliveries in 2018. The eight months between test flights were used to conduct ground vibration tests to validate aeroelastic models, as well as avionics, mission, landing gear and electric and hydraulic flight control system testing. Embraer has reported good availability for testing, sometimes doing two flights per day. The aircraft was tested to the limits of speed, Mach number, and altitude, as well as all slats, flaps and landing gear positions.[38]

The second prototype (PT-ZNJ) was finished in March 2016 and made the first flight on 28 April 2016.[39][40][41] By then, Richard Aboulafia's Teal Group estimated the KC-390 price at $50–55 million, $15 million less than the Hercules.[5]

On 17 October 2017, the first prototype (PT-ZNF) had an uncommanded descent from 20000 ft to 3100 ft at 4500 ft/min.[42] In December 2017, as the two prototypes accumulated over 1,500 flight hours and laboratory testing over 40,000 hours, initial operating capability was reached while full operational capability was expected in 2018.[43] On 5 May 2018, the first prototype (PT-ZNF) ran off the runway during a ground test in Gaviao Peixoto, Brazil.[44][42] The third KC-390 built and first production aircraft first flew on 6 October 2018.[45]

After 1,900 flight hours in testing, the KC-390 received Brazilian civil type certification on 23 October 2018; the first production aircraft is to be delivered to the Brazilian air force in the first half 2019 and should obtain military certification by the end of 2019.[3] The third aircraft (PT-ZNG), originally slated for the first delivery, has been redirected to complete certification.[9]

Design[edit]

Closeup of KC-390 in 2017

Embraer built the KC-390 around the 18.5 m (61 ft) long, 3.45 m (11.3 ft) wide and 2.95 m (9 ft 8 in) high hold with a rear ramp. Its twin IAE V2500-E5 turbofans are mounted forward on the high wing with anhedral angle, slats and up to 40° flaps High-lift devices. The landing gear has low-pressure tires, two 85 psi (5.9 bar) on the nose and four 105 psi (7.2 bar) on either side bogies for soft, unpaved ground or damaged runways. Fly-by-wire flight controls with active sidesticks allows load factors up to 3g. The cockpit has head-up displays for the enhanced vision system with four cameras and Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion commercial avionics.[9]

The aircraft can carry 26 t (57,000 lb): two fully tracked M113 armored personnel carriers, one Boxer or Brazilian VBTP-MR Guarani wheeled armored vehicle, a Sikorsky H-60 helicopter, 74 litters with life-support equipment, up to 80 soldiers or 66 paratroopers with full gear, and loads of up to 42,000 lb (19 t) can be air dropped. The KC-390 can refuel in flight other aircraft through two wing-mounted probe and drogue pods from Cobham plc delivering up to 400 US gal (1,500 L) per minute from a 35 t (77,000 lb) total fuel capacity, between 120 to 300 kn (220 to 560 km/h) and from 2,000 to 32,000 ft (610 to 9,750 m).[9]

With extended slats, idle thrust and flight spoilers extended to 40°, it descends at a rate of 9,000 ft/min (2,700 m/min) at its 300 kn (560 km/h) maximum IAS. With flaps full at 40 degrees, it stalls at 104 kn (193 km/h) IAS.[9]

Marketing and orders[edit]

In 2007, the Brazilian postal service Correios was interested in buying 5 to 20-25 aircraft to replace commercial freight service for mail transport.[46] In September 2008, the Portuguese Air Force was interested in the airplane to replace its C-130 fleet.[47] In September 2009, France could buy 10 KC-390s to compensate the Dassault Rafale sale to Brazil.[48] In October, Sweden was to evaluate the KC-390 in connection to its F-X2 offer on JAS 39 Gripen.[49]

KC-390 in 2018

In February 2010, Embraer proposed KC-390s to the Portuguese Ministry of Defense to replace the Portuguese Air Force's C-130s.[50] In July, the Brazilian Air Force intended to buy 28 aircraft.[51] In August, the Chilean Air Force planned to order 6 KC-390s.[52] In September, Colombia intended to order 12 KC-390s.[22] Later that month, the Czech Air Force expressed a need for two KC-390s.[53] That month, the UAE were negotiating an agreement for military cooperation, which would involve sales of the KC-390.[54] In October, the Argentine Air Force was interested in six KC-390s.[55]

By May 2011, Correios was to buy 15 Embraer aircraft.[56][clarification needed] In December, the Portuguese government was to sign an 87–million contract with Embraer for part of the production of the KC-390.[57] On 14 February 2012, Peru was interested in the KC-390s.[58]

In April 2013, six countries had commitments for 60 KC-390s: Argentina (6), Brazil (28), Chile (6), Colombia (12), the Czech Republic (2), and Portugal (6).[59] In June, Boeing agreed to market the KC-390 in the US, UK, and Middle East, building on the June 2012 MoU.[60] In August, the Colombian Air Force announced that it would acquire a fleet of KC-390s to replace its Lockheed C-130 Hercules fleet.[61]

In June 2016, Portugal announced its intention to buy six KC-390s.[62] In November, Embraer proposed the KC-390 to replace the Royal New Zealand Air Force's five C-130 Hercules with a decision expected in mid-2017.[63] On 8 December, Canada chose the Airbus C-295 over the KC-390 and the C-27J to replace ageing CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130 Hercules fixed-wing search and rescue (FWSAR) aircraft.[64]

In 2017, the Portuguese government authorized the purchase of five KC-390 military aircraft, with the option of one more.[65] In February 2018, aviation services company SkyTech signed a letter of intent for up to six aircraft.[66]

In June 2019, the Royal New Zealand Air Force selected the C-130J Super Hercules to replace its ageing C-130H fleet.[67] Portugal is to buy five KC-390s and a flight simulator for pilot training at a cost of 827 million euros. The first aircraft is to be delivered in February 2023 with deliveries to end in February 2027.[68]

Operators[edit]

 Brazil
 Portugal

Specifications (KC-390)[edit]

Embraer-KC-390-3-Side-View.svg

Data from Aviation Week[9]

General characteristics

  • Crew: Two flight crew
  • Capacity: 80 troops / 74 stretchers / 66 paratroopers / 7 463L master pallets
  • Length: 33.5 m (110.0 ft)
  • Wingspan: 33.9 m (111.3 ft)
  • Height: 11.4 m (37.5 ft)
  • Max takeoff weight: 86,999 kg (191,800 lb)
  • Fuel capacity: 23,000 kg (50,700 lb), 35,000 kg (77,160 lb) with 3 aux. fuel tanks
  • Useful lift: 26,000 kg (57,320 lb)
  • Hold length × height × width: 18.5×3.0×3.4 m (60.6×9.8×11.3 ft)
  • Powerplant: 2 × IAE V2500-E5 turbofan, 139.4 kN (31,330 lbf) thrust each

Performance

  • Cruise speed: 870 km/h; 541 mph (470 kn) Mach 0.8
  • Stall speed: 193 km/h; 120 mph (104 kn) IAS
  • Range: 2,815 km; 1,749 mi (1,520 nmi) 23,000 kg (50,700 lb) payload
  • Ferry range: 6,130 km; 3,809 mi (3,310 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 11,000 m (36,000 ft)

See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

References[edit]

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  5. ^ a b Thom Patterson (20 July 2017). "Brazilian aircraft takes on an American military icon". CNNMoney.
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  69. ^ Protótipos se somarão aos KC-390 encomendados pela FAB, para uma frota total de 30 aviões. Poder Aereo, 22 October 2014. ‹See Tfd›(in Portuguese)
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External links[edit]

External image
Large cutaway diagram