Embraer KC-390 lands in Australia en route to New Zealand for demonstration tour

The KC-390 at Port Hedland on Sunday. (Dennis Nixon)

Embraer’s KC-390 airlifter has made a brief stop in Australia on its way to New Zealand as part of the aircraft’s 10-country demonstration tour.

The Brazilian manufacturer is bringing the KC-390 to New Zealand in support of its bid for the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s future air mobility and future air surveillance capability requirements to replace the C-130H and P-3K2 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft.

The KC-390 PT-ZNJ first touched down in Australia on Sunday afternoon at Port Hedland in Western Australia’s north west, having flown in from Kuala Lumpur. The aircraft was on the ground for about five and a half hours before flying to Brisbane.

Schedules from flight tracking website Flight Aware showed PT-NZJ was due to depart for Auckland on Monday afternoon.

In June, Embraer confirmed it was offering the KC-390 for the RNZAF’s airlift requirement but declined to say if it was offering the KC-390 or a variant of the E195 airliner for the maritime surveillance role.

“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.

“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,” Schneider said.

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

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.

Although PT-ZNJ made stops in Port Hedland and Brisbane on its way to Auckland, Embraer is not demonstrating the KC-390 in Australia as part of the current tour, which in addition to New Zealand also covers Europe, the Middle East and South East Asia.

Embraer KC-390 PT-ZNJ at Brisbane Airport on Monday July 10 2017. (Lance Broad)
The KC-390 at Brisbane Airport on Monday morning. (Lance Broad)