Embraer KC-390 begins in-flight refuelling trials

Issue No. 4 | February 16-28, 2017Photo(s): By Embraer

The first in-flight refuelling mission of the future Brazilian Air Force (FAB) freighter, the KC-390, was successfully completed recently. From February 1 to February 22, FAB’s military personnel and Embraer professionals worked together on yet another flight test campaign, this time to test the Wing Air Refueling Pod (WARP). The device is located under the wings of the freighter, and operates refueling hose, which is 30 metres long. Air force F-5M fighters were used as receivers.

This time, although the contact was dry – that is, no fuel was transferred – all other procedures involved in the in-flight refuelling were carried out. Raphael Leme, leader of the KC-390 in-flight test engineering, says this is an important test, as the aircraft is the first tanker ever produced by Embraer. “We are working with the novelty factor,” he says. He further explains that the main thing to be tested is the ability of the WARP software to strain the hose: it cannot form waves, nor can it be called ‘dead hose,’ when there is no lift.

The KC-390 test campaign’s end schedule will run until the end of 2018. Currently, there are two prototypes performing inflight testing in parallel, and a third is in the finalisation phase. In all, there will be more than 2,000 flight hours for the development and certification tests.