Boeing and Embraer will create a joint venture to promote the KC-390 and other defence products and services for new markets and applications, the companies announced on 5 July.
The new agreement expands a six-year-old relationship between Embraer and Boeing on the KC-390 programme. A joint press release issued on 5 July includes only two sentences about the formation of the new joint venture.
“Joint investments in the global marketing of the KC-390, as well as a series of specific agreements in the fields of engineering, research and development and the supply chain, will enhance mutual benefits and further enhance the competitiveness of Boeing and Embraer,” says Nelson Salgado, Embraer's executive vice-president, for financial and investor relations.
The statement does not indicate that Boeing will assume ownership of the KC-390 programme, but rather invest in marketing, engineering and other areas. Embraer’s independence as a defence manufacturer was a key sticking point in negotiations about Boeing taking a stake in Embraer’s commercial aviation division.
The Brazilian air force formed Embraer in 1969 to re-market a military transport for the commercial sector, and the company remains the service’s primary aircraft supplier.
At the same time, Boeing has been involved in the KC-390 programme since early in the transport-tanker's development.
Boeing agreed to provide technical support to Embraer on the twin-engined KC-390 in 2012, just as the US manufacturer’s production line for the four-engined C-17 airlifter neared an end. A year later, Boeing and Embraer expanded the agreement to allow the former to provide marketing support in new markets.
The KC-390 is close to completing a nine-year-long development phase. Last month, Embraer re-affirmed that the first delivery of a production version of the KC-390 to the Brazilian air force is on track by the end of the year.
One of Embraer’s two KC-390 test aircraft sustained damage during a runway test on 5 May in Brazil.