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Portugal orders KC-390 airlifters

12 July 2019
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The KC-390 has attracted strong international interest. With Portugal’s order for five aircraft, the aircraft now has its first export customer. Pictured at the type’s rollout in November 2014. Source: IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

Embraer has secured its first export customer for the KC-390 airlifter, with the announcement on 11 July that Portugal has placed a firm order for five aircraft.

The decision by the Portuguese government to sign for the Brazilian-built transport aircraft comes nine years after the country joined the programme as a partner in 2010. At that time, the Portuguese Air Force (Força Aerea Portuguesa: FAP) said it had a requirement for six KC-390s to replace its ageing Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules airlifters. Embraer did not disclose the status of the final aircraft.

No contract value was disclosed, though Embraer did note that deliveries are scheduled to start in 2023.

Portugal is the largest international partner for the KC-390 programme, with the Czech Republic also providing industrial participation. OGMA-Indústria Aeronáutica de Portugal is to build centre fuselage panels, elevators, fairings, and landing gear doors.

With the Portuguese order, Embraer is now under contract to build 35 KC-390 aircraft for the Brazilian Air Force (Força Aérea Brasileira: FAB) and the FAP. Letters of intent (LoIs) have also been received from Argentina (6), Chile (6), Colombia (12), and the Czech Republic (2).

The KC-390 has a hold volume of 170 m 3 (including the ramp), and a maximum payload of 23 tonnes (or a concentrated maximum payload of 26 tonnes over the centre of gravity). It has a rough-field capability, giving it the ability to land on California Bearing Ratio (CBR) 4-rated (soft field) surfaces, and company-released performance specifications give the aircraft a maximum cruise speed of 470 kt (870 km/h); a maximum altitude of 36,000 ft; and a range (with 23 tonnes of payload) of 1,380 n miles (2,556 km), or a ferry flight with internal fuel tanks of 4,640 n miles. The range can be extended by in-flight refuelling.

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