Em­braer KC-390 be­gins in-flight re­fu­elling tri­als


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.

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