The final Embraer 190 for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines landed at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport on 19 December 2015, completing the fleet of 30 E190s for short-haul daughter company KLM Cityhopper just a few days after the 29th aircraft of the type and the 2nd Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrived.
KLM Cityhopper is one of the largest regional airlines in Europe, making 100,000 flights a year to 54 European destinations. In 2016 four new destinations will be included.
KLM Cityhopper Fokker 70
With the arrival of the new aircraft KLM Cityhopper is able to transport 100 passengers on the E190s and 88 on the E175, against 80 on the Fokker 70. The E175 has a slightly shorter range than the Fokker 70: 1,800 miles (3,334 km) with a typical cruising speed of 447 knots (515 mph or 828 kmh). It has a service ceiling of 41,000 feet. When the E-Jet fleet is complete, KLM will have the largest Embraer fleet in Europe.
On 14 December 2015 KLM received its second of ten ordered Boeing 787 Dramliners. Named Anjer (Carnation) if follows the Zonnebloem (Sunflower) into service on the routes between Amsterdam and Abu Dhabi and between Amsterdam and Dubai. In 2016 KLM will also field its 787 on its service from Schiphol IAP to Rio de Janeiro.
The Afghan Air Force had its first class of eight pilots graduate on 17 December 2015 on its new primary combat aircraft: the Embraer A-29B Super Tucano. They were trained on Moody Air Force Base in the United States by staff of the 81st Fighter Squadron.
In March this year the then student pilots made their first real-life sorties on board the A-29 in the skies of the state of Georgia, a month after classroom training started and two months after the 81st FS was reactivated just for the Afghan Air Force Super Tucano – of which 20 were bought by Washington to equip the Asian country with some sort of fixed-wing air combat element.
Al-Quada hide-outs in Afghanistan
The White House and Capitol Hill apparently felt an obligation to rebuild the nation’s military after the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 in reaction to terror airplane attacks in Washington and New York City that destroyed NYC’s World Trade Center and parts of the Pentagon in DC. When the Osama bin Laden led al-Qaeda organisation claimed responsibility the American military went after their hide-outs in Afghanistan and took on the destabilizing Taliban forces in that country as well.
Granted the US for Afghan deal in February 2013 through the US based Sierra Nevada Corporation, the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer set up store at Jacksonville in Florida to let US personnel assemble the so-called Light Air Support Aircraft (LAS) in a 40,000 square foot hangar.
The A-29 Super Tucano will form the backbone of the Afghan Air Force combat element, giving the Afghans something quicker and more versatile to field than the Mil Mi-35 helicopters it is replacing. Training in January started on three machines only, with only a few USAF Airmen. Now that the first eight students have graduated, the 81st FS will continue to train 20 more pilots over the next three years.
The training program made headlines in December when two Afghan military personnel failed to show up for work while in the US. The two have been missing since 8 December and when found, will be deported back to Afghanistan, US authorities say.
Shipped to Afghanistan the first A-29s will take up the fight when the Mi-35s are retired in January 2016. This seems all rather quick-quick and it is. In fact, US Air Force Major-General James Hecker, the commander of the 81st Fighter Squadron’s 19th Air Force, acknowledges the Afghan pilots and their American instructors “had to push it” since pilot training on a new aircraft type normally takes two to three years. The Afghan Air Force A-29 pilots had to be ready in 11 months.
Low-cost close-air support
The A-29 is currently considered to be the world’s best low-cost CAS/COIN aircraft, with an operational cost of about 1,000 to 3,000 US dollar per flying hour – use of weapons not included. For a normal attack or fighter aircraft the prize per hour is at least US$ 18,000.
Largest A-29 customer
Embraer so far delivered around 190 EMB 314/A-29 Super Tucanos of at least 230 aircraft ordered. Largest customer is the Brazilian Air Force, having received 33 A-29A single-seaters and 66 A-29B two-seaters between 2003 and 2012, with so far four aircraft lost in accidents. Worldwide the fleet has logged more than 180,000 flight hours and 28,000 combat hours.
Ghana is to order four additional Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light attack, counter-insurgency and training aircraft from Brazil, according to Ghanaian Air Force’s Air Vice Marshal Michael Samon-Oje. More new aircraft are on their way.
The high-ranking officers confirmed on Accra Airbase this week that its country will gain a second batch of the Super Tucanos, following a 2015 order for five A-29s, and that negotiations with Brazil are ongoing.
Third Ghana Airbus C295
As we reported earlier Ghana is upgrading its military. Apart from the five Harbin Z-9EH helicopters received in October this year, a third Airbus C295 tactical airlifter is soon expected. Six additional Mil Mi-17 tactical transport helicopters are on order in Russia, to complement the current seven “Hips”.
After the four remaining Aermacchi MB-339 aircraft were placed in storage in 2014, the Ghanaian Air Force has no fixed-wing combat element until the entry into service in 2016 of the first five Embraer A-29 Super Tucanos.
Deliveries of the first Embraer KC-390 tactical transport and tanker aircraft to the Brazilian Air Force are delayed until the first half of 2018, Embraer reported on 30 July in its quarterly results. The KC-390 first flew on 3 February, staying airborne for 85 minutes. However, test flights have since been halted to allow for the installation of test equipment for certification trials.
According to Embraer, the flight test campaign of the KC-390 is expected to start again in Q3 2015 and is expected to last between 18 and 24 months and 2,000 flight hours. The company now expects to receive certification of the KC-390 jet in the second half of 2017, with first deliveries of the aircraft the following year.
Previously, the Embraer was aiming at 2016 for first deliveries. Brazil has 28 aircraft on order. Other countries showing interest are Argentina, Chile, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Colombia.
Luxaviation, the second largest business aviation group of Luxembourg, says to be happy with its first Embraer Phenom 300. The aircraft was delivered on 7 July 2015.
The bizzjet joins a Luxaviation Group fleet of more than 250 business aircraft, including 18 Embraer business jets.
Patrick Hansen, CEO of Luxaviation Group says: “The integration of the Embraer Phenom 300 type aircraft into our jet fleet allows us to diversify (…) specifically for the fast-growing Asian business jet market. It responds to clients’ needs for a diversified fleet providing high flexibility.”
The Phenom 300 is now in operation in more than 20 countries and the type has accumulated over 200,000 flight hours. In five years of operation, the Phenom 300 fleet has surpassed the 250 aircraft mark.
The Phenom 300 has a high speed cruise of 453 knots and a six-occupant range of 1,971 nautical miles (3,650 km) with NBAA IFR reserves. This range allows nonstop flights from f. ex. Los Angeles to Orlando. The aircraft is capable of flying at 45,000 feet (13,716 meters), powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW535E engines with 3,200 pounds of thrust each. The Phenom 300 features distinct temperature zones for pilots and passengers, a wardrobe and refreshment centre, voice and data communications options, and an entertainment system. It has single-point refueling, an externally servicable lavatory and an so-called air stair.