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Exclusive: Inside the C-390 Millennium demonstrator at Aero India 2023

We had the chance to see a KC 390 plane at Aero India. We just looked at this aircraft and its 2023 Aero India debut. The Embraer firm, which also produces high-quality private jets and commercial airplanes, designed this aircraft. Now, the Brazilian, Portugal, and Argentina Air Forces are in charge of operating this aircraft.

We were given a tour of this aircraft by Mrs. Nilma Missir-Boissac, a member of the Embraer marketing team. We sincerely thank you for that. The technical crew also aids in our understanding of this aircraft. Let’s explore each category in detail.

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There is just one variant of this aircraft that is capable of carrying up to 26 tonnes. First off, no other military cargo has the best aerodynamic structure on the nose that enables an aircraft to fly faster and with greater efficiency while also reducing drag.

Exclusive: Inside the C-390 Millennium demonstrator at Aero India 2023

An airplane is designed specifically to transport military personnel and equipment Also, there is enough space for cargo and possibly even troops on the side of the cargo compartment.

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The cabins were made expressly to carry different kinds of cargo and are highly sturdy. There is also a loadmaster computer. The interior of the airplane also makes it easier for people to work simultaneously and arrange all the different types of seating for troops and cargo. It also features a water tank and a single restroom for the staff.

The aircraft has a low ground base and a steep slope at the rear cargo to conveniently load the machines or cargo inside. The cargo bed features various hooks and latches that can firmly hold the cargo and also pull up to 10 tonnes of cargo.

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Exclusive: Inside the C-390 Millennium demonstrator at Aero India 2023

The VIP and other delegations are also transported in the middle cargo room, which is also easily convertible into passenger seats and a holding area.

As we entered the KC 390 cockpit, we saw that it was one of the most cutting-edge fly-by-wire systems available. Although it has many features that can be converted into a military version, it looks almost like any instrument found on a civilian aircraft.

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The C-390 is the most modern next-gen military tactical transport aircraft, and its multi-mission platform offers an unbeatable combination of low operating costs and fast turnaround.

Exclusive: Inside the C-390 Millennium demonstrator at Aero India 2023

The aircraft can carry more cargo (26 tons) compared to other medium-sized military cargo aircraft and flies faster (470kts) and further on a standard crew duty day.

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The C-390 Millennium can carry out a wide range of missions using the same platform, including Air-to-Air (in-flight) Refueling (AAR) for fixed & rotary wing aircraft, airborne operations, troop & cargo transportation, humanitarian missions, medical evacuation, firefighting, and search & rescue, with simple and rapid reconfiguration between the different configurations using conversion kits and state-of-the-art built-in reconfigurable cargo floor systems.

Exclusive: Inside the C-390 Millennium demonstrator at Aero India 2023

The aircraft was designed to operate on semi-prepared or damaged runways as well as in hostile environments, ranging from hot & humid to cold, dry conditions.

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The C-390 has been marketed as a jet-powered alternative to the C-130 Hercules produced by Lockheed Martin. In April 2013, Brazil, Portugal, Hungary, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and the Czech Republic signed agreements for a total of 60 C-390

Three crew members—two pilots and one loadmaster—can control it.  It measures 115.6 feet in length, 115 feet in wingspan, and 38.10 feet in height. Moreover, this aircraft can carry up to 23,000 kg of fuel, extending its range to up to 5,820 km, and it has maximum takeoff weight of 87 tonnes. Its ferry range is 9,500 km, and it can reach maximum ceiling height of 36,000 ft.
The aircraft is propelled by two IAE V2500-E5 turbofans, each with a thrust of 139.4 kN (31,330 lbf). and has a maximum speed of 988 km/hr and a maximum cruise distance of 870 km. It boasts the most recent design and the most advanced technology currently found in most modern airplanes.
Exclusive: Inside the C-390 Millennium demonstrator at Aero India 2023
As we entered the KC 390 cockpit, we saw that it was one of the most cutting-edge fly-by-wire systems available. Although it has many features that can be converted into a military version, it looks almost like any instrument found on a civilian aircraft.

The C-390 has demonstrated its capabilities, dependability, and performance throughout a range of tasks since it entered service with the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) in 2019. Five KC-390 refueling versions that belong to FAB’s fleet total more than 7,500 flight hours, and the latest statistics show a 99% mission completion rate, indicating exceptional productivity in its category. Portugal and Hungary, both NATO members, have placed orders with Embraer for the C-390 Millenium. In 2022, the Netherlands, another NATO member, decided on the C-390 Millennium.

India now maintains a variety of military cargo aircraft, including the C17, C130J, An 32, and IL-76. These aircraft can carry a variety of payloads, however, some of them are no longer being produced, such as the C17.

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India is now developing its own production facility for small cargo planes with a payload capacity of up to 9 tonnes with C295 and is collaborating with TATA and Airbus, which will soon begin production of 40 planes. 16 aircraft will be delivered to the defense team in a ready state.

Since it can address urgent military needs, the Indian Defense team believes the Embraer C390 to be the most suitable aircraft. It will be the market’s youngest fleet. This aircraft performs the military and aviation functions as required by India. Even though several officials have already reached out to Embraer, a public statement has not yet been made.

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He is an aviation journalist and the founder of Jetline Marvel. Dawal gained a comprehensive understanding of the commercial aviation industry.  He has worked in a range of roles for more than 9 years in the aviation and aerospace industry. He has written more than 1700 articles in the aerospace industry. When he was 19 years old, he received a national award for his general innovations and holds the patent. He completed two postgraduate degrees simultaneously, one in Aerospace and the other in Management. Additionally, he authored nearly six textbooks on aviation and aerospace tailored for students in various educational institutions. jetlinem4(at)gmail.com

Aerospace

Take First Glimpse of USAF B-21 Raider, Latest Nuclear Stealth Bomber

Take First Glimpse of USAF B-21 Raider, Latest Nuclear Stealth Bomber
Image:USAF

The United States Air Force (USAF) has unveiled the first photographs of the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider bomber in flight.

These images were captured during test flights conducted by the B-21 Combined Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base, marking a significant milestone in the development of this sixth-generation aircraft.

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Currently undergoing flight tests in California, the B-21 Raider represents the next generation of stealth bombers. With an estimated cost of around $700 million per aircraft, the B-21 Raider is poised to become a crucial component of the USAF’s arsenal for conventional Long Range Strike missions.

According to Air Force briefings, the B-21 Raider will form part of a comprehensive family of systems, encompassing Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance capabilities, electronic warfare, communication systems, and more. Notably, the bomber will be nuclear-capable and adaptable for both manned and unmanned operations.

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It boasts the flexibility to deploy a wide array of stand-off and direct-attack munitions, ensuring versatility in various combat scenarios. One of the B-21’s distinguishing features is its extensive integration of digital technology, as highlighted in discussions held during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Designed with an open systems architecture, the B-21 Raider is built to swiftly incorporate emerging technologies, ensuring its effectiveness against evolving threats over time. The B-21 Raider is slated to replace the aging B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit bombers, bolstering US national security objectives and providing reassurance to allies and partners worldwide.

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Aerospace

Aurora Flight Sciences Unveils Innovative X-Plane Design

Aurora Flight Sciences Unveils Innovative X-Plane Design

Aurora Flight Sciences, a Boeing company, has recently completed the conceptual design review for a groundbreaking high-speed, vertical lift X-plane.

This aircraft, part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program called Speed and Runway Independent Technologies (SPRINT), aims to demonstrate key technologies and integrated concepts that combine high speed with runway independence.

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Aurora’s design features a low-drag, fan-in-wing demonstrator integrated into a blended wing body platform. This innovative approach merges the agility of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) with exceptional speed capabilities.

The team is focused on ensuring the program’s success by setting the stage for successful flight demonstrations, showcasing a transformative capability for air mobility and Special Operations Forces (SOF) missions.

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New renderings of the fan-in-wing (FIW) demonstrator show three lift fans, a more refined composite exterior, and an uncrewed cockpit. The decision to use three lift fans simplifies the demonstrator, streamlining its path to flight testing. This FIW technology can be scaled to incorporate four or more lift fans to meet future aircraft requirements, potentially leading to a new family of systems.

Additionally, while the current demonstrator is uncrewed to facilitate testing and reduce risk, the FIW technology is fully adaptable to crewed aircraft. Aurora’s concept is designed to meet or exceed DARPA’s challenging program objectives. The blended wing body platform is capable of a 450-knot cruise speed, and the embedded lift fans with integrated covers enable a smooth transition from vertical to horizontal flight.

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The design also utilizes existing engine solutions, reducing development risks and timelines. Besides VTOL, the aircraft can perform short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL), super short take-off and landing (SSTOL), and conventional take-off and landing.

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Aerospace

China Developing Comac C939 Wide Body Aircraft to Compete with A350 and B777

China Developing Comac C939 Wide Body Aircraft to Compete with A350 and B777


China’s Comac aircraft company is currently underway with the development of its own wide-body aircraft, the C939, positioned to compete with industry stalwarts like the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 in the future. This strategic move by Comac involves crafting the next iteration with enhanced capacity and extended range capabilities, marking a significant leap forward in technological advancement compared to the current C919 aircraft.

Air China has inked a substantial deal worth a staggering $10.8 billion, based on list prices, to acquire 100 Comac C919 jets, signaling a strong vote of confidence in the domestic challenger to aerospace giants Airbus and Boeing.

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China Comac C919 Total Order

With both China Southern and Air China combining orders for nearly 200 aircraft, the prospects for the new C919 aircraft appear increasingly promising for future fleet growth. To date, Comac has garnered orders for nearly 1,100 aircraft.

China is contemplating the development of another wide-body aircraft, the C939, poised to significantly bolster the aerospace industry in China.

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COMAC has initiated work on the C939, a new wide-body airliner. While design concepts have been formulated, it will still take several years before a prototype materializes, according to reports from the South China Morning Post, citing anonymous sources.

Initially intended to be a joint venture with Russia, plans were halted due to Russia’s decision to safeguard its copyrights and technological advancements within its borders. Consequently, collaboration between China and Russia on aircraft development was discontinued. Sources suggest that China is vigorously pursuing new avenues for the independent development of its own wide-body aircraft, crucial for accommodating larger passenger capacities and extended flight ranges.

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Comac C939 competes with Boeing 777 and A350

Information regarding the program remains limited. COMAC has refrained from commenting on the development of the new aircraft type, stating that official announcements will be made in due course. Nevertheless, the C939 could potentially accommodate up to 390 passengers, positioning it to compete with the largest Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft.

In addition to the prospective C939, COMAC is already advancing with the development of another widebody aircraft, known as the C929. This aircraft is poised to rival the Boeing 787 and Airbus A330, boasting 280 seats and a range approaching 6,500 nautical miles.

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Since obtaining certification in late 2022, the COMAC C919 has been operational, accumulating nearly 1,000 firm orders, predominantly from Chinese-owned airlines and leasing companies.

With multiple widebody aircraft in the pipeline, COMAC stands to achieve parity with the two leading international aircraft manufacturers. Boeing, with its 777 and 787 models, and Airbus, with the A330neo and A350, both have a comparable range of offerings. However, Boeing’s aircraft are encountering delays and production challenges despite substantial orders, while the A350 is performing commendably, though the A330neo’s order intake has not met initial projections.

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How much does C919 cost?

China is under pressure to fulfill the current orders for the C919 aircraft, prompting plans to expand production facilities across various regions within the country. The aim is to ramp up production capacity for C919 planes to 150 aircraft annually over the next five years. The latest reports indicate that the C919 is priced around $99 million, comparable to the price of Boeing 737 Max and Airbus A320 aircraft, with expectations for further price reductions in the future.

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While the C919 has yet to be certified in major aviation markets outside of China, only four have been delivered thus far. In the long term, COMAC’s widebody aircraft will vie for global competitiveness. One potential benefit of COMAC aircraft could be in reducing China’s reliance on Western aircraft manufacturers. However, this shift won’t happen immediately; the current delivery rate of four aircraft in nearly 18 months is not sustainable, and both Airbus and Boeing have established manufacturing facilities in China to cater to its sizable market.

Nevertheless, assuming COMAC addresses the issues impeding deliveries, there’s a plausible scenario where the manufacturer assumes a significant role, particularly as China’s aviation market continues to expand.

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As the C939 progresses through its development stages, more details are expected to emerge. Comparisons between official specifications of the C929 and C939 will be noteworthy, as will the initial orders for each aircraft type. However, it’s anticipated that neither will undergo test flights or enter into service for several years.

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