Home > Aircraft > EMBRAER KC-390


Medium-range transport aircraft


The KC-390 is the largest aircraft ever developed by EMBRAER

Entered service Expected in 2016
Crew 2 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 33.91 m
Wing span 35 m
Height 10.26 m
Weight (empty) 35 t (?)
Weight (maximum take off) 81 t
Engines and performance
Engines 2 x IAE V2500-E5 turbofan
Traction 2 x 120 kN
Maximum speed 850 km/h
Cruising speed 600 km/h (?)
Service ceiling 11 km
Range (with 13 t payload) 4 815 km
Range (with maximum payload) 2 593 km
Ferry range 6 019 km
Standard payload 13.33 t
Maximum payload 23.6 t
Troops 80 men
Vehicles 2-3 HMMWVs or 1 APC
Cargo compartment dimensions 17.75 x 3.45 x 2.9 m


   The EMBRAER KC-390 is a tactical airlifter presently under development in Brazil. 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.

   Development began in 2006, based on a requirement by the Brazilian Air Force for an aircraft to replace the C-130 Hercules. Initially designated as the C-390, EMBRAER based its design and technologies on their E-Jet airliner series. After it was decided to include a tanker variant in the C-390 program, its name was changed to "KC-390" to emphasize this new capability. This aircraft was first publicly revealed in 2014. It made its first flight in 2015.

   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.

   A total of 68 KC-390s have been ordered as of 2014, by seven different nations. These are Argentina (6), Brazil (28), Chile (6), Colombia (12), the Czech Republic (2), and Portugal (6). In addition to the aircraft already ordered by the Brazilian military, they currently plan to acquire a further 100. France also plans to acquire 12 KC-390s, though the order has not been placed. Israel, South Africa, and Sweden are also reportedly evaluating the KC-390 for possible purchase. Several civilian companies have also expressed interest in purchasing them.

   As of 2013, the KC-390 program has cost US$2.25 billion to develop, and the unit cost is expected to be US$50 million when production begins. The first flight of the KC-390 is presently planned for late 2014, and the first deliveries to the Brazilian Air Force are scheduled for 2016.




   C-390 a basic tactical airlifter, and the flagship variant;

   KC-390 a cargo aircraft with an added aerial refueling capability. The aircraft can be rapidly converted from transport to tanker, depending on mission requirements;

   C-390F a proposed model aimed at the civilian market, with a lengthened fuselage.



   Article by BLACKTAIL

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Video of the EMBRAER KC-390 medium-range transport aircraft









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