The Embraer KC-390 has successfully completed one of the most integral and exciting tests in the defense industry. With results that match the design goals, this aircraft is ready to safely and efficiently dispatch paratroopers in sequential and high-altitude jumps and also using Night Vision Imaging System (NVIS).
The Embraer KC-390 is a medium-size, twin-engine jet-powered military transport aircraft under development by Brazilian aerospace manufacturer Embraer, able to perform aerial refuelling and to transport cargo and troops. It is the heaviest aircraft that the company has made to date, and will be able to transport up to 26 tonnes (29 tons) of cargo, including wheeled armoured fighting vehicles. It is similar in form and function to Japan’s Kawasaki C-1 and C-2, and is the largest aircraft ever developed by Embraer.
The KC-390 is also intended to compete directly with the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules on the military tactical airlifter market, and offers fierce competition for its American rival. Compared to the C-130J, the KC-390 is expected to be 15% faster, carry an 18% heavier payload, and cost 59% as much to purchase. And although having a 15% shorter range than the C-130J, the KC-390 has an aerial refueling capability as a standard feature (only a few specialized sub-variants of the C-130 have an aerial refueling capability).
Typical of a medium-sized and medium-range tactical airlifter, the KC-390 has a spacious, rectangular cargo bay that spans much of the fuselage’s length, and a rear ramp allowing for a RO/RO (Roll-On, Roll-Off) capability. Ruggedized landing gear allows the KC-390 to take-off from or land on any hard and flat surface, including dirt airstrips typical of front line bases. The nose is very short and swept downward, to maximize the aircrew’s forward visibility, and as with many military cargo aircraft, the horizontal stabilizer is mounted on top of the vertical stabilizer in an “all-flying tail” (sometimes called a “T-tail”) configuration. The cargo hold can accommodate up to three vehicles collectively weighing up to 23 metric tons (for example, three HMMVWs, or one VBTP-MR Guarani).
The KC-390’s avionics are exceptional for an aircraft of its class. They include HUD displays for both the pilot and co-pilot, a night vision system, a GPS system, and a CARP (“Computed Air Release Point”) system that allows for the automatic opening of the cargo doors and release of cargo at a specific point in mid-air. Both the pilot and co-pilot have identical controls and instruments at their stations, and all the functions of the KC-390 are controlled and managed via a digital fly-by-wire system.