First flight of the new KC-390 (Image © Embraer S.A.)

Promising Brazilian airlifter KC-390 makes first flight

The promising Brazilian indigenous airlifter Embraer KC-390 made its first flight on 3 February 2015, the manufacturer announced through social media. The flight lasted 85 minutes and was aimed at evaluating flight characteristics and conducting a variety of systems tests. Upon arrival back at the airfield in São José dos Campos, the test pilots remarked the aircraft is ‘docile and predictable’. We’ll take that as good thing.

The KC-390 is a twin IAE V2500-E5 turbofan cargo aircraft capable of carrying 23 tonnes of cargo, and uses many components of Embraer’s E-Jet design. According to its manufacturer, the new type uses state-of-the-art avionics, with dual Head Up Display (HUD) and a full-featured mission system, including accurate computed air release point (CARP). It is equipped with a complete self-protection system and is Night Vision Goggles (NVG) compatible. The KC-390 is also said to be capable of operating from short and semi-prepared airstrips.

In June 2010, the Força Aérea Brasileira (Brazilian Air Force) decided to buy 28 aircraft. Other countries showing interest are Argentina, Chile, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Colombia. Equipped with wing mounted in-flight refuelling pods, the KC-390 is destined to become a future tanker for the 36 or more SAAB JAS 39E/F Gripen multi-role fighters the Brazilian Air Force is buying.

The first KC-390 was rolled out on 21 October (see images and video). It is the biggest aircraft ever designed and produced in Brazil, Embraer twittered proudly.

© 2015 editors Marcel Burger and Elmer van Hest

First flight of the new KC-390 (Image © Embraer S.A.)
First flight of the new KC-390 (Image © Embraer S.A.)