The Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB, Brazilian air force) has started flight testing the new T-27M version of Embraer's Tucano trainer. The maiden flight of the first of two pattern aircraft (serial number 1446), was performed on October 23, Brazil’s Day of the Aviator and of the FAB.
The aircraft had been modified by Parque de Material Aeronáutico de Lagoa Santa (PAMA LS), one of the FAB’s major technical centers that performs maintenance on the A-29, T-25, T-27, U-7, U-19, and U-42. The aircraft flew from PAMA LS’s own runway, which is located close to the city of Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais state. During the two-hour, five-minute flight the T-27M’s emergency and electrical systems were checked, as was the functionality of the new equipment, including attitude reference and navigation. A chase aircraft followed the T-27M throughout.
Flying the T-27M was Colonel Aviator Marcelo Zampier Bussmann, a test pilot for Brazil’s IPEV (flight test and research institute), with test engineer Lieutenant Matheus Pacheco Guanabara Santiago in the aft cockpit. “The new avionics behaved very well, despite the integration being quite complex,” reported Santiago. “In general, the embedded system is very robust and modern. It will allow cadets to have contact with a very current platform, facilitating their adaptation to the new aircraft of the FAB, such as the KC-390 Millennium and the F-39 Gripen.”
“The backup systems have improved substantially, increasing the safety of the operation of the T-27 aircraft in the AFA [air force academy] and in the current context of air navigation,” added Colonel Bussmann.
As well as addressing obsolete items in the Tucano, the T-27M upgrade integrates a new digital avionics suite that features multi-function screen displays and compatibility with the latest navigation and air traffic requirements, including RNAV and RNP performance-based navigation.
The FAB plans to upgrade 42 Tucanos—a mix of T-27s and AT-27s—to T-27M standard to equip the Academia de Força Aérea at Pirassununga-Campo Fontenelle. Students at the academy first train on the Neiva T-25 Universal before progressing to advanced training in the T-27. The first T-27M is due for delivery in mid-2021, with all deliveries to be completed by the end of 2022.
Embraer flew the first EMB-312 Tucano on August 16, 1980, and it proved to be a considerable success, with over 620 built for domestic use and export. It entered FAB service as the T-27 in September 1983. Over 150 were eventually supplied, including a number of armed AT-27s that were employed for border patrols and the interception of illicit flights. Today the AT-29 Super Tucano undertakes the armed patrol role, leaving the AFA as the sole remaining operator of the Tucano in the FAB, which still has over 100 aircraft in use or in storage.