Employees take pride in Embraer KC-390’s successful first flight

Embraer's new KC-390 military transport and aerial refueling tanker completed its first flight on Tuesday, Feb. 3 in Brazil. The airplane is equipped with Rockwell Collins' Pro Line Fusion avionics system.Click to enlarge

Nilson Rabelo has spent 20 years helping our company strengthen its relationship with Embraer. A principal systems engineer at Rockwell Collins in Brazil, Rabelo has witnessed the unfolding of what he describes as an “amazing relationship” that began in the early 1980s and has continued to flourish in the 21st century.

On Tuesday, Feb. 3, Rabelo saw that relationship grow even stronger when Embraer’s new KC-390 military transport and aerial refueling tanker took off from its Gavião Peixoto production facility in São Paulo State, Brazil, and completed its successful first flight. The fixed-wing aircraft – equipped with Rockwell Collins’ Pro Line Fusion® avionics system – made its public debut during a ceremony in October 2014.

“I’ve been in this industry for a long time and the thing that impresses me the most about this program is the integration between the Rockwell Collins and Embraer teams,” said Rabelo, who has worked on the KC-390 program since October 2011. “It’s an amazing relationship. We’ve all been working really hard and ‘sweating the jersey’ every day.”

Rabelo is one of more than 300 Rockwell Collins employees who have played an important role in helping the Brazilian original equipment manufacturer develop and fly its clean-sheet tanker/transport aircraft – the largest aircraft ever made in Brazil. In fact, about 95 percent of his time during the past three years has been spent at the Embraer facility in São José dos Campos where the KC-390 is being developed. That’s where he works hand-in-hand with systems engineers, test engineers, and maintenance and support personnel.

“There are so many ‘firsts’ associated with this aircraft. From its size and weight, to its structure and high wings, everything about this aircraft is new,” said Rabelo. “It’s also the first successful transition of our Pro Line Fusion avionics system to a military fixed-wing aircraft, so it’s a good example of how we can leverage our commercial technology in a military platform.”

For Operations employees Debbie Kelly, Lisa Pfieler and Brenda Curtis, knowing the KC-390 has achieved its first flight also is a proud moment. Kelly is a certified operator in the Modification Center at our facility in Melbourne, Florida. She has spent the past three years helping to build the aircraft’s Audio Control Panel (ACP).

“We live for that first flight and the chance to see the new products and, in some cases, modified products, actually working,” admitted Kelly. “Seeing what we’ve been working on for so long actually flying in the sky is very rewarding.”

Pfieler and Curtis are build operators on the New Production Integration team in Manchester, Iowa. Until about eight months ago, the duo spent their days building the Adaptive Flight Display for the KC-390.

“It’s really neat to know that the product you’ve worked on has finally made its way into the airplane and is working the way it’s supposed to work,” said Curtis. “Building what our engineers are designing and then working with them to make sure it’s working properly  gives you a great sense of reward and pride.”

More information about the KC-390 first flight is available via the “Press Releases” tab on the Embraer website at www.embraer.com. To watch a video, click here.

Story posted: February 3, 2015

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