Embraer will in the next two months resume test flights of its developmental KC-390 transport and tanker, following a lengthy pause since its first – and only – sortie on 3 February.
This "lay-up period", says Jackson Schneider, chief executive of Embraer Defense & Security, was to allow the installation of all the instrumentation required for certification trials.
Military approval is scheduled to be attained late in 2016, with first delivery to the Brazilian air force following that same year or in early 2017.
Embraer will require around 2,000h of flight tests using two prototypes of the International Aero Engines V2500-powered aircraft to achieve certification, said Schneider, speaking at a media briefing at the company's Evora, Portugal facility on 22 May.
The second flight-test article is due to roll out in September or October this year, leading to concerns that the airframer could struggle to stay on schedule.
But Schneider is unconcerned by the ambitious timeframe. "If it was the first plane we were developing then I would be very scared, but it isn't." He adds: "We have a very proven and experienced engineering team."
So far, the only firm order for the twinjet has come from Brazil, which has committed to 28 examples. However, Embraer also holds letters of intent from five other nations, covering 32 aircraft.
Schneider is positive that additional deals will be signed off in the coming months.
"We have discussions already with some countries. Two are pretty advanced," he says.
However, he declines to indicate whether the pair of potential customers are drawn from the existing five-nation pool.
Embraer is producing the metallic vertical stabiliser and wing skins, and the composite horizontal stabiliser for the KC-390 in Evora. Components for the third prototype – a static test aircraft – are due to be shipped to Brazil shortly. Manufacturing of parts at the Portuguese site for an additional ground-test article for fatigue evaluations will begin in the coming weeks.
Long lead-time components for the first customer aircraft are also in production.