Paris 2011: Embraer Looking at a Stretched KC-390 Freighter

 - June 22, 2011, 1:20 AM

Embraer is looking at the possibility of a stretched civil version of its KC-390 tanker/transport, but not until the current task of developing the military version has been completed. A freighter version would most likely have fuselage plugs added fore and aft of the center section, not only increasing internal capacity, but also providing sufficient fuselage length for a side cargo door.

Orlando Jose Ferreira Neto, senior v-p of the newly created Embraer Defense and Security business, commented that a commercial version would probably employ the same engines as the military KC-390.

“The [stretched] aircraft would be heavier,” Neto said, “but the military performance requirements regarding takeoff lengths are very stringent. In the commercial world you have a lot more margin.” He also noted that the commercial sector was “more about volume. In the military world it’s mostly about weight.”

A commercial variant would not be available before 2018, while the company focuses on fulfilling its Brazilian air force development contract for the tanker/transport. Currently, that program is entering a 12-month joint-definition phase, and a number of suppliers have been announced. Further major equipment suppliers will be revealed in the coming weeks, including the engine provider.

Discussions concerning the engines between the air force and Embraer are reportedly finalized, although Neto would not be drawn on a selection, or even if a selection had been made. CFM and IAE are being considered to supply the 28,000-pound-thrust engines.

Overall, the KC-390 is on track to deliver two prototypes in 2014, with Part 25 certification completed in 2015 and military qualification in 2016. Brazil has committed to buying an initial batch of 28 aircraft, and Embraer expects the contract for them to be signed in the second half of 2013. Altogether the company already has commitments for 60 aircraft, and significant additional interest.

Regarding cost, Neto said, “We have to be competitive with the C-130J.”