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DEFSEC Media is New Zealand's defence, security and fire B2B/B2G publishing group. Our leading magazines, Line of DefenceNZ Security and Fire NZ are read by key business, government and military decision makers and influencers. This website is the online home of cutting-edge content from each of our titles.

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Q&A with Jackson Schneider, President and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security

Line of Defence Magazine, Autumn 2018

President and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security, Jackson Schneider.President and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security, Jackson Schneider.

 

In this exclusive interview with President and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security, Jackson Schneider, Line of Defence seeks an update on the KC-390 and asks what sets the swept wing turbo fan aircraft apart from its competition?

 

Based in São Paulo, Brazil, Jackson Schneider’s role is ensuring the successful development, flight trials programme and delivery of the KC-390 to Embraer´s growing base of military and other customers. Mr Schneider visited New Zealand in early February on his way to participate in the Singapore Airshow.

 

LoD: How do you see Embraer´s prospects in New Zealand?

JS: At Embraer we are very pleased to be bringing the KC-390 to market at a time where many Air Forces and organisations are updating and refreshing their Air Mobility capabilities with more modern and more capable aircraft. We have been following the New Zealand Defence Force’s Future Air Mobility Capability Project for quite some time now, and we are excited to be offering our new generation multi-mission aircraft, the KC-390 Military Tactical Airlifter because it meets all of the essential criteria they are looking for in this tender.

We understand that air mobility is a key capability for New Zealand due to its geographical isolation, which requires it to deploy its forces thousands of miles to where they are needed.

The second task then is to support them in these remote regions, so speed and tactical capabilities combined are the keys to success. The KC-390 has been designed and built to be the key to unlock this potential for countries like New Zealand.

The airframe and flight control systems have been designed and manufactured with the knowledge and experience Embraer brings from almost 50 years of extensive commercial, executive and military aviation manufacturing experience.

In addition, we are very confident in the KC-390’s fast entry into service with high levels of reliability due to our choice of proven and reliable IAE V2500 engines that have over 8,000 units in operation globally, as well as the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion Avionics which are in service with multiple aircraft worldwide.

 

LoD: What makes the KC-390 better than its competitors?

JS: Quite simply, the KC-390 is easier to both operate and maintain. Reliability, maintainability and availability were major design requirements for this aircraft. Reliability through proven systems, redundant architectures and robust design all contribute to outstanding availability levels which are projected to be best-in-class. 

Secondly, it has outstanding cargo capacity. Combine this with its faster speed and the result is incomparable productivity for military missions abroad and to Antarctica.

Lastly, Embraer has made sure the design of the KC-390 leverages reduced and best-in-class life cycle costs. Life cycle costs make up an important part of the decision-making process nowadays, so we have designed low life cycle costs into the DNA of the KC-390. This is another of our main competitive advantages. Essentially, we are more affordable to operate with greater availability statistics.

Another important characteristic is that the aircraft can perform a variety of missions, such as cargo and troop transport, cargo and simultaneous paratrooper airdrop, aerial refuelling, search and rescue and aerial firefighting. The KC-390 is capable of carrying up to 26 metric tons of cargo at a maximum speed of 470 knots (870 km/h), with the ability to operate in austere environments, including unpaved or damaged runways. This aircraft is a real game changer.

 

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LoD: What is the status of the KC-390 flight test campaign?

JS: The flight test campaign has logged over 1,600 flight hours and is proving the operational and certification requirements which will be open for evaluation. The aircraft attained the Initial Operational Capability and a Provisional Type Certificate from the Brazilian Aviation Authority (ANAC) in December 2017, and we expect to achieve Final Operational Capability in the fourth quarter of 2018.

 

The Embraer KC-390.The Embraer KC-390.

 

LoD: Some debate exists between the operational characteristics of a straight wing turboprop aircraft like the C-130 and a swept wing turbo fan aircraft like the KC-390? What are your thoughts?

JS: We have seen other air mobility aircraft operate very successfully as swept wing turbofan configurations. Turbofan aircraft are able to operate out of short runways under varying tactical scenarios because they have very effective configurations and systems controlling the wing spoilers, slats and flaps.

Foreign object damage is something that affects all aircraft including the composite propellers of modern turboprop aircraft at austere airfields. With the KC-390, foreign object damage is minimised with her engines mounted in a high and forward configuration.

Turboprops tend to be more susceptible to en route icing problems due to their lower operating altitudes. Operators have also reported that turboprop engines are more complicated, can suffer over temperature and over torque stresses, are heavier and require more spares. Also, vibration and noise levels can cause passenger discomfort, not to mention the longer flight times compared to a turbofan like the KC-390, which cruises faster.

As always, there are trade-offs between the two, but we are confident that many militaries who want multiple capabilities rolled into one aircraft will choose the benefits of a turbofan over the turboprop where it makes sense to do so.

 

LoD: When will the KC-390 become operational?

JS: We are in-production with the aircraft now, and the first aircraft delivery is on schedule to be handed over to the Brazilian Air Force in the second half of the year. 2018 will deliver the milestones of the KC-390 being in-production, certified and delivered. This will give a lot of confidence to New Zealand and others following the KC-390s transition into operational service.

 

LoD: What can you say about the maturity of the aircraft?

JS: The facts speak for themselves. To date, both prototype aircraft have proven to deliver very high reliability metrics. We have taken them to Farnborough and the Paris Air Shows in consecutive years, and have performed two demonstration tours through Asia, Africa, Europe, Middle East and Oceania including New Zealand.

Of particular note, the KC-390 maintained 100% availability and serviceability for these demonstration tours, which is very impressive.

 

Related articles

KC-390: The New Generation Multimission Transport Aircraft

Line of Defence Magazine, Summer 2017/18

 

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