Embraer-Boeing Agreement to Build KC-390 Military Transport Plane

Embraer and Boeing agreed to collaborate in the construction of the KC-390, a military transport plane that would be in service at the end of 2015. (Photo: Infodefensa.com)

Embraer and Boeing agreed to collaborate in the construction of the KC-390, a military transport plane that would be in service at the end of 2015. (Photo: Infodefensa.com)

Gerard Aziakou/AFP

Brazilian airplane manufacturer Embraer and its U.S. competitor Boeing agreed on June 26 to share technical knowledge and market analysis for the development of Embraer’s KC-390 military transport plane.

Embraer hopes to capitalize on Boeing’s vast knowledge of the world military transportation market, including its experience in the development of the Boeing C-17, said Luiz Carlos Aguiar, president of Embraer’s defense and security unit, after signing the agreement with his counterpart from Boeing.

“Boeing has extensive experience in military transport and in-flight refueling aircraft, as well as profound knowledge of the potential markets for the KC-390,” Aguiar added at a press conference.

Defense, Space and Security president Dennis Muilenburg, said that the C-17, a large military transport aircraft used by the air forces of several countries, and the KC-390 “fit together perfectly.”

“Our goal is to look for new opportunities to expand the market for the KC-390 and make it as successful worldwide as the C-17 has been,” he added.

The collaboration between two of the world’s leading airplane manufacturers consists in sharing technical information and joint analysis of market prospects for the KC-390.

“It will be a partnership between equals that does not involve payment, with both sides contributing resources,” Aguiar said.

The agreement follows the commitment signed by both companies in April to share technology in the areas of aircraft efficiency and manufacturing, as well as for more research on biofuels.

Boeing and Embraer are currently collaborating on the development of aviation biofuels, including one derived from sugarcane.

In April 2009, Embraer obtained a contract with the Brazilian Air Force to deliver 23 KC-390 planes over seven years for 1.3 billion dollars.

The new KC-390 with two turbofan engines, which can be refueled in flight and will be used to supply fuel to other aircraft in flight, as well as for search-and-rescue missions, is expected to make its first flight in 2014, and enter service in late 2015.

The plane is the largest model to be built by the Brazilian aerospace industry. It can carry 84 military personnel and the cargo cabin can be adapted to carry sick or injured patients on medical evacuation missions.

Brazil, the Latin American country with the greatest political and economic weight and currently the sixth-largest economy in the world, will soon make a decision on a contract for 36 fighter planes for its Air Force, valued at 4 to 7 billion dollars.

Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters are competing for the contract against the Rafale fighters manufactured by French firm Dassault and the Gripens manufactured by Swedish firm Saab.

Brazil seeks to promote its domestic arms industry and insists on technology transfer in all its defense agreements.

Washington D.C., meanwhile, has announced that it will reopen bidding for 20 AT-29 Super Tucano planes destined for the Afghan Armed Forces.

Embraer and its U.S. partner Sierra Nevada won that bid in December, but the U.S. Air Force canceled the agreement in February, following protests by their U.S. rival Hawker Beechcraft Corp.

Boeing has had a presence in Brazil for 80 years and has sold commercial planes to Brazilian airlines since the 1960s.

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