KC-390 delivery schedule unchanged despite runway incident
Brazilian plane maker Embraer confirmed on May 10, 2018, that the schedule for the KC-390 remains unchanged and deliveries to the Brazilian Air Force still planned to start during the last quarter of 2018. The confirmation comes following an incident earlier in May 2018, when the first of two Embraer KC-390 military transport prototype suffered runway excursion during ground testing.
The incident occured on May 5, 2018 at Embraer Unidade Gavião Peixoto Airport (SBGP) - the testing plant of the Brazilian manufacturer. The crew was unharmed but after evaluation, Embraer declared that “extensive damage was identified on each of the three landing gears of the aircraft, as well as damage to the structure of the fuselage.” The prototype was left inoperative.
To stay within schedule, the Brazilian company is considering the transfer of some of the tests not only to its 002 prototype, but also to the first series planes which should soon come out of the production line.
It is the second time that an accident affect KC-390 001 during testing. On October 12, 2017, the aircraft nearly crashed during a stalling test. A piece of equipment used for data recording detached from the cargo hold and moved back to the end of the plane, suddenly changing its center of gravity. The plane started a long descent before the pilots could regain control, at a mere 1,000 feet of altitude.
Embraer KC-390: to replace C-130 Hercules & compete with A400M Atlas
The KC-390 is a tactical transport and inflight refueling aircraft produced by Embraer Defense and Security, the military subsidiary of the Brazilian plane maker. Powered by two specially designed Pratt and Whitney V2500-E5 engines, it can carry 26 tons of cargo, including vehicles like two M113s armored personnel carrier, or a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. The biggest aircraft produced in Latin America, it is designed to take off and land on semi-prepared and unpaved airfields.
The aircraft is destined to replace the C-130 Hercules of the Brazilian Air Force (BAF) and could potentially be sold to other countries still using Lockheed bestseller. The BAF has already ordered 30 of the planes, two of them being the prototypes. On July 27, 2017, Portugal, which is also contributing to the program by providing several parts (including the central section of the fuselage), signed a firm order for five aircraft with an option for one more.
Despite its smaller capacities in both range and payload compared to the new Airbus A400M Atlas, its attractive price ($85 million compared to $165 million for Airbus transporter) could potentially interest some countries with smaller defense budgets, especially in Latin America. Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Czech republic and Sweden have already signed letters of intent.