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The first C-390 Millennium airlifter for the Hungarian Air Force successfully completed its maiden flight on 8 February 2024, manufacturer Embraer announced the following day.

The aircraft flew for around four hours out of Embraer’s site at Gavião Peixoto in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, during which Embraer conducted a complete assessment of the aircraft. It will now undergo a test campaign ahead of entry into service with the Hungarian Air Force.

“This maiden flight is a major milestone for the Hungarian C-390 programme, Bosco da Costa Junior, President and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security, was quoted as saying in a company press release. “The C-390 Millennium is receiving international recognition on the back of its remarkable operational performance and capabilities, and Embraer is ramping up production to address increasing market demand. It is an honour to work with the Hungarian Defence Forces in strengthening their capabilities with the best military airlift solution available. We are keen in further deepening this partnership with the Hungarian Defence Forces, and supporting them well into the future.”

The Hungarian government signed a contract with Embraer to acquire two C-390s in November 2020. The Hungarian Air Force aircraft will be the first in the world to be configurable with an intensive care unit: a vital resource for carrying out humanitarian missions. They will also feature the type’s air-to-air refuelling capability (such aircraft are typically designated KC-390s).

Hungary is the third country to have ordered the C-390 after Brazil and Portugal. The Netherlands, Austria, the Czech Republic, and South Korea have also selected the multi-mission aircraft.

“The C-390 is redefining military air transport and challenging the logic behind current and future generation platforms, offering multi-mission capability, reliability, and interoperability built by design, Embraer stated in its press release. “The C-390 can carry more payload (26 tons) compared to other medium-sized military transport aircraft and flies faster (470 knots) and farther, being able to carry out a wide range of missions, such as transporting and launching cargo and troops, aeromedical evacuation, search and rescue, firefighting and humanitarian missions, even operating on unpaved runways, on surfaces such as compacted earth and gravel.”

The C-390 entered service with the Brazilian Air Force in 2019 and the Portuguese Air Force in 2023. The current total C-390 fleet of aircraft in operation has accumulated more than 11,500 flight hours. Embraer says the aircraft has demonstrated an operational availability rate of around 80% and mission completion rates above 99%.

The first KC-390 Millennium airlifter for the Hungarian Air Force successfully completed its maiden flight on 8 February 2024. (Photo: Embraer)