Embraer KC-390 to visit New Zealand next month

Embraer will demonstrate its KC-390 airlifter in New Zealand next month in support of its bids for the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s future air mobility and future air surveillance capability requirements.

The aircraft is due in New Zealand in mid-July as part of a 10-country demonstration tour following this week’s Paris Airshow. It will be shown to the RNZAF in support of the Brazilian manufacturer’s bids to meet New Zealand’s airlift and maritime surveillance requirements to replace the C-130H and 757 transports and the P-3K2 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft.

“We have solutions for both … and we decided to bid for both,” Embraer Defence & Security chief executive officer Jackson Schneider told Australian Aviation at the Paris Airshow on Wednesday.

Embraer is offering the KC-390 for the RNZAF’s airlift requirement but won’t confirm if it is offering the KC-390 or a variant of the E195 airliner for the maritime surveillance role.

“In maritime patrol we can offer solutions with the KC-390 or even offer solutions with the E195. Both are very efficient platforms to meet maritime patrol needs,” Schneider said.

But what mission system a maritime surveillance configured KC-390 or E195 would be fitted with Embraer won’t reveal.

“How I address the need this is something I don’t want to [disclose] but I have the possibility to offer solutions with both platforms.”

Meanwhile the Brazilian air force is due to receive the first of 28 KC-390s it has on order in early 2018, while Portugal has announced plans to order five.

“We had the very positive announcement from the Portuguese government that it will buy five units, we will have that contract signed this year,” Schneider said.

As for the potential for other international sales, “I’m very positive”.

To date the two KC-390 development aircraft have flown over 1,000 flight hours.

“We’ve fulfilled many phases and stages of the test [campaign], up ’til now everything is according to the plan and we’re very satisfied with that. In fact in some specific analysis we are getting even better [performance] figures than planning forecast,” Schneider said.

“We are proving that what we said we would do we will do.”

Prior to the airshow the KC-390 was demonstrated in Sweden, while following the show it is due to be demonstrated in Europe, the Middle East and South East Asia. The aircraft won’t be demonstrated in Australia as part of the current tour.


  1. Trash Hauler says

    What a great capable looking aeroplane (on paper). Would have been a much better buy for Australia than our lemon C27s and probably the same price too

  2. Bill says

    Lets hope those in the Beehive & NZDF get it right this time ?

    Government always buys “Cheap” on Capital Investment for NZDF

    six P-8K Poseidon six C-130J Super Hercules and Two ex QANTAS B-767 converted to Combi with force multiplier Tanker conversion.

    We must give the RNZAF the ability to do tasking well, with ” Aircraft fit for Purpose”.

  3. Jim says

    – C130J won’t fit the NH90s so is effectively ruled out.

    – 30 year old 767s are no better than the 757. AirNZ has previously offered their 767s to the RNZAF and they turned them down as the cost of conversion was too great.

    – P8 has also effectively been ruled out as it cannot operation from NZWP.

  4. G4george says

    What is the issue with the Spartan that you have labelled it a lemon Trash? I have read nothing but good reports, the only issue they have had with the aircraft is when a tyre blew while practising touch and go in Texas and that was put down to pilot error.

  5. Raymond says

    No Trash Hauler, the C-27J is a fine aeroplane.

    Yes Bill, proper fit-for-purpose aircraft. The least NZ can do without an air combat force is procure the best maritime patrol aircraft. The P-8.

    KC-390? A long shot, Embraer.

  6. Dennis Goodman says

    I just wish it had more orders to show confidence in the aircraft. Maybe more will be announced in Paris. But for now I’d have RNZAF with 4 P8’s, 4 C130J’s, 6 C27 or C295 (2 being MR capable), and 2 ex Air NZ A320’s converted to QC and Extended Range.

  7. Cathy Howat says

    As a former RNZAF member, I personally, think this would be a good fit for all three roles. Remember, the basic c-130 air frame first flew in 1955, as did the P3 which was based of the Lockheed Electra airliner. Both have long reached the end of their development cycle

  8. Sam says

    The KC390 has to be given some serious thought by the RNZAF, it out performs the C-130J in a lot of areas in terms of weight and distances it is able to fly. It can fit an NH-90 albeit a tight fit. It terms of cost it is a lot cheaper than the C-130J.

    I think it comes down to three aircraft for the RNZAF, the KC-390, A400M, or the C-130J. Whatever they decide they must ensure that they get this purchase right as the aircraft will be required to do so much over next 30 years.

    It will be interesting to see what the RNZAF decides. Reading between the lines the P-8 looks like a done deal.

    Look forward to seeing the KC390 in NZ skies.

  9. Derrick says

    There’s also the A400m that Airbus is pushing, along with the c295 to replace both the 757 and the c130

  10. PAUL says

    RNZAF needs at least 4 P8’s for long distance patrol- High speed will help getting onsite for SAR more quickly & when deploying around the globe. Watching Paris Airshow news this morning the C295 from Brazilian Airforce is also doing a tour to show off its Multirole-Transport/Maritime patrol capability. Why waste a Transport flight around NZ or to the Islands when you can patrol at the same time & leave the bigger longer range work to the P8. How about 4 xP8’s 2x KC30’s 4x A400Ms with 4x C295’s – 2 or even all being Multirole.. If the A400 is too costly they may go for KC390 if it can squeeze in an NH90. Another option is to get 2xA4oos instead of the KC30’s? – options options options……

  11. Josh James says

    Although the Embraer looks to be a fine plane for the future, it’s still a very young design in terms of development and proven potential. The A400 is getting over many of its early gremlins and is now becoming a world class transport.

    I also think that relying on one airframe to do everything is a big risk. Especially when that frame hasn’t proven itself in its core role. Poseidon and Grizzly for best choice for dollar.

  12. ngatimozart says

    If the P-8 has been effectively ruled out why did the NZG submit a FMS request? They didn’t do that with the C-17. Whether or not Whenuapai is capable of operating the P-8 is beside the point and the FASC RFI specifically states that Defence are open to basing the FASC elsewhere.

    Yes, the KC-390 looks good and does meet many of the FAMC RFI requirements, however it is not certified and it is not in service with a FVEYS nation so it has a reasonable element of risk in Defence and NZG eyes. The A400M would have to be the frontrunner at the moment. Whilst it is still a risk it is in service with the RAF and other air forces, plus it is certified. A C295 / C-27J platform is not that feasible in the NZ context because they aren’t able to carry a significant load to areas like the Pacific Islands due to the distance involved. That was the one of the issues with the Andovers. We may see an A400M / C130J combination with the A400M undertaking strategic lift and the C130J tactical lift. The B757 replacement is less urgent so that may be a KC-46 / KC-30 platform and in the case of the A330 having ex airline A330-200 airframes converted to KC-30 capability, the same as the RAAF are doing with their KC-30 #6 & 7 platforms.

  13. Harry says

    Umm.. how is the C27s a lemon exactly? I haven’t heard any bad news about them… they are meant for small tactical lift in inaccessible areas to larger aircraft. Don’t they do that job well?

    Plus Im with the others, How have the P-8s been ruled out exactly? If Whenuapai can’t handle them then why not upgrade the facilities for such a reputable capability?

    P-8s are a must but will come later. I would favour the C130Js but admit the A400ms bring more to the table. But why do they have to fit the MH-90s? This wasn’t a consideration for RAAF (which admittedly have C-17s), is not more of a requirement to have something that can fly to the Antarctic?

  14. Sam says

    If you consider the C-130J is this really the aircraft you want for the next 30 years? To me its the A400M or the KC-390. I do wonder if the RNZAF is considering a mixed fleet? x2 A400M and x4 KC-390/C-130J or something along those lines.

    I would be choosing the KC-390 over the C-130J and a couple of A400M for heavy air transport. Both aircraft would then compliment each other nicely.

  15. Samual says

    Hi Trash Hauler … The C-27j and KC-390 are designed for different missions they aren’t really interchangeable. They also will cost about twice the price of the C-27J.

    In the longer term it may well be a candidate to replace the C-130J.

  16. Jasonp says

    The RAAF C-27J ramp up has been hindered by slow production from Leonardo, the need for L-3 to start a training school from scratch after the USANG retired their aircraft, typically lacking European tech pubs, and a few performance shortfalls compared to the brochure. Whilst there has been some pain, the operators remain positive about its potential.

    I noticed a couple of comments above proposing the RNZAF get 3 or even 4 different types totaling 10 or fewer aircraft – this just won’t happen. Look for a single transport type (I pick C-130J) and a single MPA (it WILL be P-8A), and perhaps an unmanned system later next decade.

  17. Mick181 says

    I suspect NZ will chose the C-130J for a number of reasons.

    1. They will probably get enough to get a 1/2 decent size fleet of 5-7 Ac, the same money will only get 3-4 A400Ms
    2. They can get it FMS through the US Govt who are still buying brand new Hercs and there is no sign yet of a replacement. And it gives NZ access to all future upgrades and easier access to spare parts at short notice.
    3. All the other 5 eyes nations, US, UK, Aust & Canada, NZs 4 closest allies are using the Aircraft so NZ will be able to imbed personal with those Air Forces to help with trg.
    4. The C-130J-30 offers a dramatic improvement over the current H models, with a larger internal volume which fixes the issue of the smaller Herc reaching max load size long before they run out allowable weight and a far superior range.
    5. The KC-390 while a very promising aircraft is still very green and is unproven and comes from a country NZ has never dealt with before.

  18. Josh James says

    I would be interested though if the Kiwis will be interested in expanding the mission capabilities of either platform or both to include some form of offensive ground support. If a Harvest Hawk option for their transport (dare I even suggest the AC-27 Spartan as a separate purchase?) and/or JDAM or JSOW from the P-8 is available for direct support let alone the sensors they would bring, would save lives. I thought that the experience they had in Afghanistan and Iraq may have made this a consideration.

  19. Keith says

    I read that the Americans placed all their C-27s into storage because they were too expensive to run. I was very surprised when RNZAF Orion crew members told me they don’t want the P-8 because it doesn’t have the duration of the P-3. I understand that the A-400 would cost around $20,000 NZ and hour to operate which would probably restrict us only buying two. Pity we missed the chance to buy two of the last of the C-17s a perfect aircraft for flying relief supplies to the Islands.
    Our Government has a track record of asking the airforce what aircraft they need then buying something else.

  20. Sam says

    Odds on is that the RNZAF will go with the C-130J but there are two things that the J model Hercs can’t do, transport an NH-90, and reach Antarctica on a tank of gas. So what options are left?

    The C-17 purchase has been shelved so that rules that aircraft out.

    The KC-390 can reach Antarctica beyond the PNR with a 14 tonne payload and by all accounts looks like a fantastic aircraft. Let’s not forget Embraer are the third biggest aircraft manufacturer in the world so I wouldn’t rule it out just yet. Yes it is a new aircraft and unproven but by all accounts

    The A400M has to be in serious contention, huge payload and no problem getting to Antarctica and probably get two NH-90’s on board.

    Does anyone know when the announcement is due on what aircraft will be chosen?

  21. Jasonp says

    The USANG C-27Js were retired during sequestration and the USAF was told to consolidate its tac transport into the C-130. These aircraft are now in service with the US Army SOCOM and the US Coast Guard.

    The C-130J can reach Antarctica with sufficient reserves from CHC with aux tanks which are available as options, but it’s a niche mission which you wouldn’t buy a much larger and more expensive aircraft solely for..

    The P-8 might have slightly less endurance than a P-3 (about 8 hours vs 11), but its greater transit and patrol speeds means it can cover roughly the same area in a single patrol. It’s a moot point – no other MPAs currently available can match the P-3’s endurance anyway.

  22. Craig says

    @ Keith. Interesting comments from the RNZAF Orion Crew. According to Boeing, the P8 can fly 2400nm, loiter for 8+ hours and return without refuelling. That’s about 18 hours endurance. Obviously that would mostly be high level. I understand that with the new sensors on the P8, the need to do a lot of low level flying over the ocean is no longer required. The other thing about the P8 is its high transit speed compared to the P3.

    @Sam I read somewhere that the C130J will carry an NH90 albeit with some disassembly.

  23. Craig says

    @ Jasonp

    Boeings own propaganda states: ‘Ready for the long haul. The P8 can travel 2400 nautical miles, patrol and monitor an area for 8+ hours, and return without needing to refuel.’

  24. PAUL says

    The 757’s will be replaced later down the track, possibly by either KC30/46 – They will probably have as stated by FAMC 2 types in total 1 for 757 & 1 for C130H. So that leaves a 3 horse race for the 5 x C130H’s to be replaced. C130J/A400M/KC390… C130J probably cheapest to buy & easiest to support & integrate, but the other types have merit in terms of modern design, speed/payload/range. I prefer the A400M, unless it replaces the 757, which would make the KC390 the next choice.

  25. Sam says

    I am picking the KC-390 to replace the RNZAF C-130H’s. When you look at cost for KC-390 $120-130 million as opposed to $150-170 million for C-130J it’s a good deal. They may even be able to get 6 KC-390’s.

    @Paul, I agree. I really like the A400M but I think it’s a long shot as it won’t be a “like for like” replacement as in the RNZAF won’t be able to afford 5 A400M’s. Could two A400M replace the x2 757’s in 2023? That would make more sense.

  26. Greg says

    Another consideration for the NZ government would be the engines. The Christchurch engine center would give them a sovereign MRO facility that is already established for the v2500 on the KC390. But also down the track would like to see them buy 2x a400m as a replacement for the 757

  27. Mick181 says

    Using price per Aircraft you have found on a site somewhere is a poor way to judge the costs of any Military program. LM, Airbus and Embraer will respond with a package that will include the cost of the Aircraft, a trg package, ground support eqpt, spares and ongoing support for the program, it’s known as Raise, Train, Sustain. Each bidder will offer the best deal they can. LM especially but also Airbus have decades of experience doing this for foreign Countries Embraer does not.
    Who pays a Sticker price when buying multiples of anything?, it’s exactly the same as a fleet buyer for a company, you don’t even bother looking at the Sticker price it’s meaningless.

  28. PAUL says

    @Sam & Greg yes good points. Maybe 4 x A400M’s could cover what 5 Hercs can, but we all wait with great interest to see what comes.

    I remember in the 80’s NZ population was about 3 million, back then if the NZ Govt could afford 2x 727’s – 5x C130’s – 10x HS748 Andovers including a Jet strike & training wing one would think today with a population over 4.5 million they could spend a decent amount of money on a solution that will cover All requirements like flying to Antarctic without PNR issues & easily haul NH90’s to areas needing disaster relief or otherwise & be a good player with our allies.

  29. Sam says

    @ Paul agreed mate, the NZDF across all services has slowly been wound down. The 80’s saw us with a good AF with a lot more aircraft and a Strike Wing. I still to this day don’t know how the Labour Government was allowed to do what they did and axe the Strike Wing.

    Interesting times for the RNZAF, I guess we will know soon enough on what aircraft is selected.