Paris Air Show

Embraer studies medium-size military airlifter

 - June 17, 2007, 6:17 AM

Embraer, the world’s fourth-ranking aircraft maker, which started largely as a defense company, is seeking to enhance its defense business by studying the possible development of the C-390, a medium-size military cargo transport, which would be the heaviest aircraft ever produced by the Brazilian manufacturer and take it into a new segment of the aerospace and defense market.

Antastácio Katsanos, vice president of market intelligence-defense and government markets, speaking to journalists in Paris last month confirmed Embraer is “testing the concept” of a turbofan powered airlifter that would enter the market between the Alenia C-27J and Lockheed Martin’s C-130 Hercules and replace aging fleets within the coming decade.

“The project has been launched, not the program,” Katsanos said. There is no timetable for developing the aircraft but if launched by the end of 2007, the aircraft will be available by 2012 to be competitive with C-130 upgrades. He confirmed Embraer is in talks with several countries and companies with a view to sharing development of the airplane, which will probably be derived from the E-190 regional jet. This will “not require a big investment,” he said. The airplane would sell for about $50 million and would compete with Lockheed Martin’s $80 million, 19.1-ton capacity C-130J, Russia’s 10-ton Antonov An-72 and An-74 and the $135 million, 37-ton EADS CASA C-295.

If produced, the fly-by-wire C-390 would be able to transport up to 19 metric tons (41,888 pounds) of cargo over 3,200 nautical miles and have a cabin that can be configured for medical evacuation missions. Equipped with modern loading systems and a rear ramp, it would be able to accommodate a wide range of cargo, including wheeled armored vehicles, and would be able to operate on short and unpaved runways without the need for ground support. It would have a new airframe with a high wing and use electronic equipment and avionics similar to those of the E-190 commercial jet.