Embraer’s C-130 replacement sprouts a T-tail

The design of the Embraer C-390 has significantly evolved since earlier this year. A presentation posted by the Brazilian manufacturer on the Internet last month (hat tip: The Woracle) reveals three major changes.

  1. Conventional vertical stabilizer is out. T-tail is in.
  2. Aft-fuselage strakes

  3. Wing-mounted refueling pods

Compare the photo on the left, released in May, to the photo on the right, which came from the new presentation.


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You don’t hear much about the Embraer C-390, a high-winged, military transport version of the E-190 airliner. It’s a potential successor to the oldest Lockheed Martin C-130s, assuming a small segment of the 3,000-aircraft replacement market demands a smaller twin-jet instead of a four-engine turboprop.

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6 Responses to Embraer’s C-130 replacement sprouts a T-tail

  1. Royce 2 December, 2008 at 3:19 pm #

    Interesting. The original idea was to get a C-130 competitor on the cheap by taking most of the aircraft from the commercial parts bin. Sounds like they are realizing that approach isn’t going to cut it, but the investment required to build the aircraft will increase. The higher the cost of development, the tougher it will be to justify going ahead with the program.

  2. Stephen Trimble 2 December, 2008 at 3:21 pm #

    Right, my thoughts exactly. Of course, if you look at the glass half-full, maybe it means the market has given them the confidence to make a bigger investment during the development phase?

  3. Spectre 2 December, 2008 at 4:14 pm #

    I still think it is odd that they are trying to go with a turbofan aircraft. The C-17 can not live up to its full potential because of the spool up (and down) times that the engine takes. This is dangerous in doing short field landings. The C-17 will not go to the FOBs like th C-130 will. This isn’t because of wingtip clearance. It is because the plane is too heavy (even when empty), its landing and TO distance is slightly too long for most of the FOBs and most of all, the danger in with the spool up times when in a tactical approach if a correction is necessary. A turbo prop is much better suited for this kind of mission. Now with that said. Most of the forces that use the C-130 do not fly her in tactical situations, they use her for basic cargo needs, flat, long hard runway to flat hard long runway… for these forces, the Embraer C-390 looks great.
    Why is it that everyone wants to make tactical airlift so complicated? You need a basic plane that is easy to fix in a not so friendly environment. Even the J model fails in these conditions.

  4. Spectre 3 December, 2008 at 1:45 am #

    What is the size difference between this and the Japanese C-X? Same styling

  5. Stephen Trimble 3 December, 2008 at 2:25 am #

    That’s a good point. C-390 and C-X resemble each other much more closely with the T-tail.

    But that’s about where the similarities end. C-X is about 50% larger than the C-390. The engine tell the whole story. C-X requires the CF6. Not sure what Embraer has in mind for the C-390 engine yet, but the E-190 uses the CF34. (They may need to upgrade that, but, even so, they won’t need a CF6.)

  6. KenMac 3 December, 2008 at 7:45 am #

    Most likely future competitor for this will probably be the Indo-Russian Tactical Transport Aircraft (also called the Il-214/HAL Multirole Transport Aircraft) currently under development.
    # Maximum takeoff weight: 55,000 kg
    # Capacity:88 to 100 paratroopers/passengers
    # Fuel capacity: 13,500 kg
    # Maximum speed: 850 km/h
    # Cruising speed: 800 km/h
    # Length: 33.2 m
    # Wing span: 30.1 m
    # Height: 10.0 m
    # Flight range: 2,500 km with payload of 18,800 kg
    # Flight range: 6,000 km with payload of 4,500 kg

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