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  • Writer's pictureMalcolm Lu

Singapore Airshow 2024: Embraer's Millennium hits the Lion City.


The Singapore Airshow 2024 proved immensely successful, attracting tens of thousands of visitors to the Changi Exhibition Centre throughout the event. Among the highlights for aviation enthusiasts and industry professionals was the debut appearance of Embraer's C-390 Millennium at this year's show. In Southeast Asia, opportunities to see this aircraft are rare since there are no Millennium operators in the region. The nearest operator is South Korea, which only recently placed an order for three C-390s scheduled to be delivered in 2026. Embraer's presence at the Singapore Airshow with the C-390 has the potential to raise awareness and spark interest in the aircraft as a prospective replacement for aging military transport planes currently in service.

The C-390 Millennium is a medium sized, twin engined, tactical air lifter built by Brazilian aerospace giant Embraer. It is the largest and heaviest aircraft produced by the company, and offers a cost effective alternative to existing aircraft in its category. The prototype of the C-390 took its maiden flight in 2015, with initial deliveries to Hungary occurring in 2019, positioning the aircraft as relatively advanced in terms of design and technology. At a length of 35.2m, with a wingspan of 35.05m, the C-390 could carry up to 26 tonnes of cargo to a distance of 2,000km (6,240km ferry range). The C-390 boasts a spacious cargo hold capable of accommodating a Black Hawk Helicopter or various combinations of light/heavy ground vehicles, or up to 80 troops / 64 paratroopers akin to its counterparts in the market.

However, what distinguishes the C-390 is its remarkable versatility for swift and seamless reconfiguration to suit diverse mission profiles, all within a singular platform. The C-390 multi-mission profiles include Aerial Resupply, Aerial Assault, Air to Air Refuelling, Aerial Firefighting, Search & Rescue, Humanitarian Missions, Medical Evacuation Missions, and Special Operations Missions, giving operators the flexibility to carry out different mission profiles with the use of a single aircraft. An interesting note was Embraer's mentioning of a potential Marine Patrol Aircraft configuration during their Airshow briefing, making it a possible contender against Airbus's C-295 MPA.

Similar to other Embraer aircraft, the C-390 employs a full fly-by-wire control system, which not only decreases pilot workload but also enhances precision and safeguards the aircraft during flight. Its wheel base is designed to allow the aircraft to operate on sand and snow, allowing almost unrestricted deployability of the Millennium to bases and other deserted areas without a proper runway. The aircraft's two IAE V2500 engines are designed to be durable, with minimum FOD ingestion and optimally positioned high above the ground. Additionally, the C-390 Millennium stands out for its simplified maintenance procedures and lower life cycle costs, rendering it a cost-effective and efficient platform suitable for both new and existing operators.

For its defence, the C-390 can be equipped with a Self Protection Suite (SPS), offering a wide range of anti missiles and anti ballistic systems. These systems include both 360 degree detection and countermeasures, adding to the survivability of the Millennium.

C-390 Self Protection Suite:

Radar Warning Receiver (RWR)

Laser Warning System (LWS)

Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS)

Countermeasure Dispensing System (CMDS) Directional Infrared Counter Measures (DIRCM)

Electro Optics/Infrared Pod

Ballistic Protection (Armor 7.62 mm and 0.50 inch)

Enhanced Vision System (EVS)

On Board Inert-Gas Generation System (OBBIGS)

With such flexibility, mobility and survivability, Embraer's C-390 is indeed the airlifter of the 21st Century, setting a new standard by pushing modularity and cost effectiveness for operators, making it a tempting potential option to meet the demands of both new and existing operators.


Cover Photo: Malcolm Lu

Article Photos: Bryan Wong, Sebastian Ng, Sng Wei Jie & Malcolm Lu


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