Embraer reveals KC-390 schedule, design changes

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A new document posted online illuminates Embraer's master schedule for the KC-390 military transport and tanker aircraft and reveals changes compared with a previous version of the design.

The schedule, dated March 2010, reveals a fast-paced programme nearing the end of the preliminary design phase in mid-year, with initial operational capability promised five years later.

The preliminary design phase will be followed by a year-long initial definition phase, during which windtunnel testing will complete. Loads and structures calculation efforts are also launched during this phase.

A one-year, joint definition phase is scheduled to start in mid-2011, with a preliminary design review set for early 2012. With a supply chain established by mid-2011, Embraer to start developing tooling early during this phase, and begin releasing engineering drawings.

Starting in mid-2012, the KC-390 project will enter a four-year detailed design and certification phase. A critical design review is scheduled for early 2013, allowing Embraer to freeze the configuration. The first prototype aircraft is scheduled for delivery in late 2014, with a second prototype delivered shortly afterward.

The KC-390 project formally was launched in April 2007. Two years later, the Brazilian air force signed a contract to launch the programme, which will replace the service's 30 ageing Lockheed Martin C-130s.

So far, Embraer has developed a mock-up of the KC-390 cargo compartment to make volumetric checks, the Embraer briefing says.

The aircraft is being designed to carry a 19t cargo load up to 2,685km (1,450nm).

A three-view slide included in the briefing shows how the configuration has evolved. A previous three-view drawing distributed at trade shows a slightly smaller aircraft. The wingspan has grown in the new design from just over 33.9m (110ft) to just over 35m and length has increased from 33.4m to 33.9m. The height at the top of a T-tail has declined from 11.4m to just under 10.7m (previous design pictured below). The cargo box size is not listed in the new briefing, but was previously described as 3.35m wide by 2.9m tall.

 
© Embraer

Embraer projects the C-130 replacement market for the KC-390 includes up to 700 aircraft worth more than $50 billion. At the same time, the aircraft introduces new design skills for Embraer, including a rear cargo ramp, military transport certification and aerial refuelling capability.

The Embraer presentation describes the programme as "running on schedule, geared-up for full-scale development and also for selection of the main partners".

Find out more about the new-look KC-390 by visiting Stephen Trimble's The DEW Line blog