After an initial entry into service ceremony was held at Embraer’s facility in Gavião Peixoto, Brazil, on October 16; the first C-390 Millennium for the Portuguese Air Force (FAP) arrived at Beja Air Base, Portugal, at approximately 1630hrs (local time) on October 19.
The strategic transport (26901) will be operated by Esquadra 506 (506 Squadron) ‘Rinocerontes (Rhinos)’ at Beja, with the transatlantic ferry flight marking the start of the unit’s operational activity with the C-390. During this flight, the aircraft made a night stop at Amilcar Cabral International Airport on Sal Island, Cape Verde. This initial C-390 is the first of five to enter service with the FAP and briefly deployed to Portugal (while using the Brazilian test registration PT-ZDK) on October 16, 2022, before returning to Brazil a week later to continue its flight test campaign. The remaining four C-390s are scheduled to be delivered by 2027 at a rate of one aircraft per year.
Commenting on the arrival of the C-390, Brig Gen João Nogueira, President of the FAP’s KC-390 Program Supervision and Monitoring Mission, said: “The entry into service of this aircraft is significant for the [FAP] and Portugal, as it completes the development and production of a multi-value aircraft capable of the most demanding operational scenarios. The requirements set by the [FAP] have taken this aircraft to an even higher technological and capability level.”
In addition to Portugal and Brazil (the platform’s launch customer), Embraer’s KC/C-390 Millennium is enjoying growing export success in Europe, with the type having also been selected by Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria and the Czech Republic. While Brazil and the Czech Republic will both operate the air-to-air refuelling-configured KC-390 tanker-transports, the standard C-390 aircraft ordered so far by Portugal, Hungary, the Netherlands and Austria are not expected to share this capability.