Embraer C-390 Millennium showcases capability to operate from gravel runway

Embraer Defense and Security

The Embraer C-390 Millennium transport aircraft successfully completed gravel runway tests with the Brazilian Air Force. 

The test took place on 1,200 meters (3,937 feet) of gravel pavement created at the Embraer Unidade Gavião Peixoto Airport near Sao Paulo, Brazil. This private airport is managed by the manufacturer as a test facility for its aircraft. It boasts a runway of 4,967 meters (16,296 feet), one of the longest in the world.  

The beginning of the test campaign to evaluate takeoffs and landings in this type of terrain was announced in July 2021. However, Embraer did not confirm the completion of the certification by the Brazilian Air Force before August 29, 2022.  

The same day, the Brazilian manufacturer announced that for the first time, it would showcase its tactical airlifter at the Air Power airshow in Zeltweg, Austria, which will take place on September 2 and 3, 2022. 

“The entrance of the C-390 Millennium into the market comes at a crucial moment where air forces and governments are looking to incorporate new generation aircraft in their airlift fleets,” Jackson Schneider, President & CEO of Embraer Defense & Security, commented. “We are seeing the C-390 operating with incredible availability rates, which is the result of a modern design for reliability, maintainability, and a selection of the best suppliers worldwide.” 

The C-390 Millennium is a tactical transport that can also act as an inflight refueling aircraft. Powered by two specially designed Pratt and Whitney V2500-E5 engines, it can carry 26 tons of cargo, including vehicles like two M113 armored personnel carriers, or a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. It is the biggest aircraft produced in Latin America.  

In June 2022, the Dutch Ministry of Defense selected five C-390 Millennium to replace the four C-130H Hercules transport aircraft operated by the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF). The Dutch C-390M aircraft are also expected to participate in the European Air Transport Command.  

The European Commission launched in July 2022 a call for tenders to study the feasibility of “the possible development of a future tactical transport aircraft” to replace the aging airlifters currently in operation among European air forces, including the C-130 Hercules, the CASA C295, or the recently retired Transall C-160 

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