Embraer is closing in on its first export deal for the KC-390 transport/tanker with programme partner Portugal, as it readies to fly the initial delivery aircraft for launch customer Brazil to the Paris air show.
Lisbon has budgetary approval for the purchase of five KC-390s and an announcement on a contract is possible during or before the air show in June.
Brazilian air force
Jackson Schneider, chief executive of Embraer Defence & Security, says discussions with Portugal – which is participating in the KC-390 through part-state-owned Embraer subsidiary Ogma – are “very advanced”.
Embraer also makes parts of the KC-390 at its aerostructures plant in Evora, Portugal.
The manufacturer will hand over the first of 28 examples to the Brazilian air force shortly after the show. “It is going to be a beautiful moment,” says Walter Pinto, vice-president of the programme.
The aircraft on show at Paris will be serial number four. The third KC-390 built appeared at last year’s Farnborough air show, and is the first production-standard example. It has been retained for further flight testing, including trials to prove the type’s airdrop capabilities.
Discussions are taking place over whether the Brazilian air force will eventually take delivery of the second and third test aircraft in addition to its 28 on-order examples, says Pinto. One option is that Embraer will keep them for marketing and demonstrations, and as testbeds to develop new features.
The first three production aircraft are currently on the final assembly line at Gaviao Peixoto, with the second due for delivery later this year, and the third, fourth, and fifth in 2020, says Pinto.
From then on, the delivery schedule is still “under discussion” with the military, Pinto adds. The contract requires delivery of all 28 examples by 2026, although Embraer has the capacity to produce up to 18 of the aircraft per year.
Argentina, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic and New Zealand are other possible export customers for the International Aero Engines V2500-powered twinjet, which can carry 80 passengers or 64 paratroopers, and is also pitched at missions including forest fire fighting and search and rescue.
The KC-390 is likely to be at the centre of a proposed Boeing-Embraer marketing partnership for the Brazilian manufacturer’s range of defence products and services, which is separate from the joint venture with the US giant covering Embraer’s commercial aircraft range. However, the intellectual property rights to the aircraft will stay with the Brazilian air force, which funded the programme.