The first prototype of Embraer’s new KC-390 tanker/airlifter has logged more than 100 hours since it resumed its flight-test program on October 26, 2015. A second prototype is due to join the campaign in the first half of this year.
The Brazilian manufacturer (Chalet CD31) says it is on course to complete certification in the second half of 2017, with first deliveries to the country’s air force due in 2018–two years later than first planned. This follows an interruption in flight-testing caused by pressures on government budgets in the wake of Brazil’s economic slowdown.
“We are happy with the aircraft and we have had good availability for testing, sometimes doing two flights per day,” Embraer KC-390 program vice president Paulo Gastão Silva told AIN. “The aircraft have been behaving very well and we have been able to cover the full flight envelope. We have been to the limits of speed, Mach number and altitude, testing all slat, flap and gear positions. We have also done an inflight shutdown, resting a restart of the engine and APU. We have confirmed all our forecasts for flying qualities and performance.”
The Brazilian air force plans to acquire 28 KC-390s, a requirement that remains unchanged, Silva said. He declined to comment on the manufacturer’s “ongoing campaigns” to interest other countries, but said declarations of intent by five identified program partners–Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic and Portugal–remain intact for 32 additional aircraft. Embraer also recently entered a contest to bid the aircraft in response to a newly-declared requirement from Canada.
According to Silva, there are good prospects for the KC-390 in the Asia Pacific market. “It is multimission by design and so it is suited to many roles, including transport, refueling, tanker,” he explained. “It can carry all sorts of loads, including vehicles and helicopters, and it is very competitive in terms of life cycle costs.”