Embraer Confident Of MRTT, KC-390 Interoperability

KC-390 aircraft on tarmac
Credit: Mark Wagner Aviation Images

SINGAPORE—Embraer is confident that its KC-390 transport aircraft is compatible with the Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), its simulations have shown.

Frederico Lemos, Embraer Defense and Space chief commercial officer, says the turbofan engines on the KC-390 are positioned closer to the aircraft fuselage, which in turn produces less turbulence when compared with a turboprop.

“Currently we do not have any requirements to do that, but if our customers wish to do so we will be ready to support.” Lemos tells Aviation Week.

Among the KC-390 current and future customers, only the Republic of Korea Air Force operates the MRTT.

The KC-390 has conducted live refueling with Brazilian Air Force F-5Ms, as well as tanker-to-tanker refueling with another KC-390. Embraer says it would take around 4 hr. to convert a standard KC-390 into a tanker with pods and a 4,000-kg (8,800-lb.) auxiliary tank.

MRTTs are not certified to refuel A400M aircraft. Due to aerodynamics and airflow, the basket from the Cobham 905E underwing pods tends to sway when approaching the A400M and risks hitting the receiver aircraft. Tanking between the two aircraft is only possible on the UK Royal Air Force’s MRTT, which uses the centerline Fuselage Refueling Unit.

Embraer and the Brazilian Air Force are currently working toward air-to-air refueling between the H225M and KC-390, in what could be the first tanking between a conventional rotary-wing platform and a turbofan-powered aircraft.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.

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