Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil: Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica SA (Embraer), the world's fourth-biggest aircraft maker, has said that it may develop a military transport in order to bolster falling revenues from its defence business. Embraer, along with partner Lockheed Martin, lost a major US defense contract last year when the US Army canceled an $879 million contract to develop a spy plane.
The plane, the C-390, will be the company's first cargo plane, and carry as much as 19 metric tons of freight. It will also be the company's heaviest aircraft.
According to Luiz Carlos Aguiar, head of the company's defense and government unit, Embraer was in talks with several countries in an effort to collect orders for the C-390 and help finance its development.
Revenue from Embraer's defence business dipped to $227 million in 2006, as against $424 million in 2005.
Aguiar told reporters at the Latin America Aero & Defense conference in Rio De Janeiro that a decision about whether to proceed with the military transport would be taken by the company within the next four years. In a statement Embraer also said that it was in talks with other companies regarding joint development of the plane.
According to Embraer, the C-390 would cost about $50 million and would compete with Lockheed's $80 million C-130J, Russia's AN-72 and AN-74 planes and the EADS-CASA 295 built by Netherlands-based European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co.
The multi-role aircraft would be used for midair refueling, medical evacuation as well as to transport troops. It would seek a market amongst countries that were set to replace their aging military transport fleets.
Aguiar also said that the C-390 would have a new airframe and use wings, electronic equipment and a cockpit similar to that of the Embraer 190, a commercial jet.