Embraer embarks on the freighter avenue

The Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica S.A., better known as Embraer, wants to convert its C-390 military transporter into an aircraft designed for commercial purposes. Partner is the Brazilian state-owned postal service, Correios. Both companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to jointly drive the conversion project. This intent complements the Brazilian manufacturer’s plans to transform its production series E190 and E195 passenger aircraft into an all-cargo configuration.

Embraer military C-390: Soon flying without armament in Correios colors? – Courtesy: Embraer

Big company, small cargo fleet
Correios is the largest postal service in South America, but its freighter fleet is very small. It consists of one B737-300F and two B737-400Fs – older aircraft models that are long past their prime. Given the size of the country, air transportation of mail and smaller packages is essential. The distance between Sao Paulo and Manaus is around 2,700 km, and Fortaleza in the northeast of the country and Porto Alegre in the south are about 2,100 km apart. Therefore, Correios’ own three freighters only complement the supplier’s utilization of lower deck capacity offered by local passenger airlines. Otherwise, nationwide and timely mail deliveries would be impossible. 

Filling a niche in the freighter market
However, the postal company now wants to become more involved in the freighter business to gain greater independence and completely manage the postal business by itself. This led to the inking of the MoU with Embraer. Their common goal is to conduct a study to find out if the conversion of the C-390 ‘Millennium’ from military to commercial would fit the operational demands of the postal service, and what the cost structure would be. Originally built for the armed forces, the aircraft offers payloads of 26 tons, with a civilian version likely to have a similar capacity. It can cover distances of up to 6,200 km nonstop, so could cross the entire South American sub-continent without the need to refuel.

“We are very pleased to collaborate with Correios in studying a more efficient logistics network for the transport of goods, both in Brazil and internationally. Embraer has a consolidated aircraft portfolio, and the solutions to be studied together will allow Correios to expand its service offering to its customers with high reliability and efficiency,” said Bosco da Costa Junior, President and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security.

Correios dominates the cargo business in Brazil – in volume
State-owned Correios has the largest logistics infrastructure in any Latin American country. Its network comprises of 10,000+ branches spread all across Brazil, more than 8,000 operational units, 23,000 vehicles, and 87,000 direct employees.

Thanks to the MoU and the collaboration with Embraer, “we will be able to bring more efficiency to our logistics network and thus benefit the Brazilian population, which is our greatest mission as a public company and representative of the federal government. We are the largest air cargo operator in the country; no other logistics company has even half of the cargo volumes handled by Correios,” stated Fabiano Silva dos Santos, President of Correios while inking the Memorandum of Understanding.

Others are watching the outcome of the MoU
With Correios as the likely launching customer for the civilian version of the C-390, Embraer could achieve a breakthrough in the class of freighters currently available in the category of 20 to 30 tons. Above all, other countries are also closely watching the outcome of the joint Correios-Embraer project, as they operate military C-390s. These include Portugal, Hungary, South Korea, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands.

Maybe sales managers of the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer will soon be knocking on their doors, praising the remodeled C-390 in its commercial outfit.

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