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Brazil’s Embraer considers developing a military transport plane

Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Empresa Brasileiras de Aeronautica SA, or Embraer, is studying the development of a military transport plane that could compete with the Lockheed C-130.


September 18, 2007
By Carey Fredericks

Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Empresa Brasileiras de Aeronautica SA, or Embraer, is studying the development of a military transport plane that could compete with the Lockheed C-130.

Luiz Carlos Aguiar, Embraer's executive vice president in charge of defence and government markets, said the company identified the need for some 700 new military transport planes over the next few years to replace aging fleets around the world.

“Our analysis indicates that there is a potential market for this type of plane worldwide, especially to substitute older models that will reach the end of their useful lives in the next decade,'' Aguiar said at a news conference at an aerospace and defence conference here.

Embraer is a major rival of Canadian regional aircraft manufacturer Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B) of Montreal.

If the military plane is manufactured, the Embraer C-390, which could transport up to 19 tonnes, or three Humvees, would be the heaviest plane so far produced by the company, the world's No. 4 aircraft manufacturer.

Aguiar said the plane, if offered, would be available by 2011 or2012. The C-390 would have a new airframe, but also incorporate technology used in the Embraer 190 regional jet, including its cabin, wings and tail, Aguiar said.

The medium-sized transport plane would have a rear ramp and could be refueled in flight. Aguiar said the company was lining up suppliers and investors for the project.

Defence represents about six per cent of Embraer's business – a slight reduction from previous years. Embraer's main military aircraft is currently the Super Tucano turbo-prop model, which is mainly used to train air force pilots.