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KC-390 MILLENIUM Aces Airdrop Testing

Embraer’s Medium Airlifter Demonstrates Unique Capabilities

Embraer’s KC-390 new-generation multi-mission medium airlifter, recently christened the MILLENIUM, has successfully concluded the testing campaign for gravity airdrop and extraction drop of heavy loads through use of the Container Delivery System (CDS) and Low Velocity Air Drop (LVAD), respectively, the company announced in December.

The MILLENIUM features a fully-automated Cargo Handling and Aerial Delivery system, enabling the loadmaster to conduct a wide variety of operations while reducing workload and improving awareness. For the pilots, the Continuously Computed Drop Point (CCDP) system calculates the optimum airdrop release point for better accuracy. Both systems were developed by Embraer.

The tests, conducted by Embraer in cooperation with Brazil’s armed forces, were conducted at the Yuma Proving Ground facilities in Arizona. Major achievements of the testing campaign included the airdrop of a single maximum platform of 19t as well as the sequential aerial delivery of two platforms weighing a total of 24t: based on these results, the MILLENIUM stands alone as the only medium airlifter to have demonstrated such extreme capabilities.

During the 2019 airdrop campaign, the KC-390 delivered several containers in gravity drops, with up to 24 containers in a single pass and multiple Type V platforms using extraction parachutes, with a total combined payload of 330t.

Additional achievements highlighted by the company include:

  • Sequential aerial delivery by extraction with up to four platforms in one pass;
  • Airdrop by extraction using two 28ft extraction parachutes with autopilot engaged;
  • Successful testing of the CCDP system for both gravity and extraction airdrop, demonstrating excellent accuracy.

Aircraft handling in all airdrop conditions was described as ‘superb,’ with the fly-by-wire flight controls being very effective in handling aircraft pitch attitude changes during and after each load release. The most demanding airdrop conditions were overcome without pilot intervention – the  fly-by-wire sidesticks remaining in the neutral position. The extremely positive feedback from Embraer and Brazilian Air Force pilots confirms the aircraft’s superior performance during airdrop operations.

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