SAO PAULO, June 19 (UPI)
Brazilian aviation and defense manufacturer Embraer is expanding components manufacturing in Portugal as part of a global strategy to compete in different international markets.
Embraer says it may add capacity, in addition to two industrial plants already nearing completion, and invest in the construction of a third unit in Portugal, plans for which were cited in comments made to Portuguese financial daily Diario Economico by Embraer Europe President Luiz Fuchs.
Embraer is building two separate aircraft component manufacturing units in the Portuguese city of Evora, in which it has invested $215 million, company data indicated.
Both units are to start trial production in July before a scheduled official inauguration in September, officials said.
Some of the top manufacturing experts in the two units include personnel sent by Embraer, Sao Paolo, who will work with about 100 locally hired staff.
The industrial units have an inventory for manufacture that includes complex airframe structures and components in composite materials for Embraer aircraft both old and new.
Aside from making parts for older models and the Legacy 450 executive jet, Embraer's Portuguese units are part of the manufacturer's strategy to break into global tactical transport market with the development of its KC-390 military cargo plane.
Global competition in the 20-ton air transport sector remains intense and Embraer's own estimates indicate there is international demand for at least 700 aircraft that can replace the C-130 transport plane.
Embraer is aiming to develop a jet-powered rival to compete with Lockheed Martin's C-130J, as well as the larger version of Airbus A400M, Russia's Antonov AN-12, its Chinese adaptation, the Yun-8/9 and the Indian-Russian Irkut-HAL MRTA transport.
Smaller tactical transport aircraft vying for the market include the EADS-CASA C-295M, and Alenia's C-27J.
Seeking not to be outdone by competitors on any feature, Embraer is developing the KC-390 as a jet-powered transport plane with a cargo capacity of around 23 tons. Embraer is also emphasizing the aircraft's fuel efficiency.
Using dedicated pods, the KC-390 will refuel in the air and also provide refueling services to other airborne aircraft.
Faced with an array of competing aircraft, Embraer has been investing heavily in adding components that it hopes will outdo rivals with their performance. Embraer has also acquired a 65 percent controlling stake in Portuguese aircraft maintenance company OGMA, which has a facility in Alverca, near Lisbon.
Portugal's state defense company Empresa Portuguesa de Defesa Empordef holds the remaining 35 percent in OGMA.
Last year Brazil and Portugal signed agreements to increase collaboration for the production of KC-390.