Boeing will propose the establishment of a global logistics system to support the Embraer KC-390 airlifter and tanker to be modelled on the C-17's "sustainment partnership" programme, a top Boeing executive says.
The KC-390 is three years away from entering service and Embraer has yet to reveal how it plans to support the aircraft, which the airframer hopes to sell around the world.
Boeing, meanwhile, is looking for opportunities to keep its airlift workforce active as C-17 production winds down, and has identified the KC-390 logistics need as a key opportunity.
"Look at our global support programme for the C-17," says Jeff Kohler, Boeing vice-president for business development. "The Boeing company brings a logistics system that Embraer doesn't have yet. We haven't negotiated all that yet, but, if you think about it, that would be a great partnership for us, too."
Becoming involved in the KC-390 sustainment would mark an expansion of Boeing's participation in the programme. So far, both companies have only agreed that Boeing will produce a marketing plan and lead the sales effort in countries where it has a unique relationship with the local government.
Boeing also provides limited support to Embraer's engineering staff, Kohler says. He describes it as a "little advice over the shoulder" on certain aspects of designing an airlifter.
"Having a bigger aircraft where the ramp opens in flight, there are some unique things that you have to worry about when that happens," Kohler says.
Ultimately, Boeing also plans to lead a future sales campaign for the KC-390 in the US market. Embraer has avoided listing the US Air Force as a possible customer. The USA, in fact, is omitted from Embraer's forecast showing worldwide demand for 728 aircraft in the KC-390 class.
Boeing, however, clearly senses an opportunity to market an alternative to the Lockheed Martin C-130J to the world's largest defence customer.
"I think the assumption both of us have right now is that Boeing would lead that effort," Kohler says. "You've got to deal with so many Buy American rules."