The Brazilian military has awarded Embraer a provisional type certificate for the basic configuration of the KC-390 tanker-transport, a step on the way to achieving initial operational capability with the air force in the second half of 2017.

“Achieving this milestone demonstrates the design maturity that is allowing the tests campaign to progress as planned and with high efficiency,” says Jackson Schneider, president and chief executive of Embraer Defense & Security.

The provisional approval issued by the Industrial Fostering and Coordination Institute (IFI) affirms the basic vehicle of the KC-390 “complies with the certification basis requirements”, Embraer says. IFI is a Brazilian air force organisation that leads the military certification process for new aircraft.

Embraer plans to complete certification of the KC-390 next year, allowing deliveries to begin to air force in 2018.

The Brazilian air force has ordered 28 KC-390s to replace an aging fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130s. Five more countries, including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic and Portugal, have signed onto the development programme, with commitments to buy 32 more aircraft.

The twin-engined design powered by International Aero Engines V2500-E5 turbofans is expected to perform all the roles of the C-130, including transport, refueling, cargo air drops, search and rescue and aeromedical evacuation.

So far, the two KC-390 flight test vehicles have logged more than 650 flight hours in 13 months of flight tests, including a debut appearance at the Farnborough air show in July.