Portuguese Air Force’s New Embraer KC-390 Enters Flight Testing

Embraer’s first international Millennium customer plans to take delivery of the twin-engine, multi-mission airlifter next year.

Flight testing is underway for the Embraer KC-390 Millennium twin-engine, multi-mission airlifter. Delivery to Portugal is expected in 2023. [Courtesy: Embraer]

Flight testing is underway for the Embraer KC-390 Millennium twin-engine, multi-mission airlifter in preparation for its delivery to the Portuguese Air Force (Força Aerea Portuguesa) next year, according to the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer.

The aircraft is the first of five ordered by Portugal as part of the country's ongoing military modernization efforts. The 2019 purchase order also included a flight simulator, as well as support services.

The flight-test campaign, currently underway at an Embraer facility in the Sao Paulo state in Brazil, is focused on meeting Portuguese requirements, with results to be certified by Brazilian aviation authorities, Embraer said in a statement Thursday.

Once testing is complete, the aircraft will then be transferred to Portugal, where it will be outfitted with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) equipment and certified by the national aeronautical authority of Portugal (ANAC).

The KC-390 is powered by two IAE V2500-E5 turbofan jet engines and features Collins Aerospace Pro Line Fusion avionics on the flight deck.

"The KC-390 aircraft meets all FAP requirements capable of performing various civilian missions, including humanitarian support, medical evacuation, search and rescue, and wildfire fighting, adding superior transport and launch capabilities for cargo and troops and in-flight refueling," Embraer said.

While Portugal is the first international customer of the C-390 Millennium, more aircraft will soon be headed to other global buyers. Hungary has ordered two KC-390 aircraft that are slated for delivery in 2024. Earlier this summer, the Royal Netherlands Air Force announced it too is buying five C-390 aircraft to replace its aging fleet of four C-130 Hercules turboprop airlifters, The Aviationist reported.

Portugal and Hungary's KC-390 fleets will both be NATO compatible and capable of air-to-air refueling.

FLYING editor-in-chief Julie Boatman contributed to this report.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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