Brazil Welcomes First Airbus A330 Into Service

 - July 27, 2022, 5:14 AM
Brazil’s first KC-30 is seen on the eve of its induction into FAB service. (Photo: Força Aérea Brasileira)

The first of two Airbus A330s for the Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB, Brazilian air force) entered service in a July 26 ceremony attended by air force chief Air Lieutenant Brigadier Carlos de Almeida Baptista Junior. The aircraft arrived back in Brazil on the previous day at Viracopos airport, Campinas, after servicing and painting overseas, before flying to Galeão air base for the induction ceremony.

Brazil signed a contract in April with local airline Azul Linhas Aéreas to source two suitable used A330-200 aircraft for the air force's KC-X3 tanker/transport requirement. The contract specified delivery of the first aircraft within 90 days of signature, and the second 60 days later. Both of the selected airframes had formerly flown with Avianca Brasil before that carrier's bankruptcy in 2020. The first—now registered FAB2901—was subsequently operated by Azul Linhas Aéreas itself while the second was sourced from the open market. What will become FAB1902 was formerly G-POWX of Titan Airways.

As a first step to delivery, the initial aircraft was flown to Amman, Jordan, for a C-check performed by local maintenance, repair, and overhaul group Joramco. It subsequently went to Dublin, Ireland, for painting by International Aerospace Coatings, and then to Victorville, California, for completion of the acceptance process and authorization for military use.

In FAB service the A330 is designated KC-30, although at present the aircraft retains a standard passenger interior and has no tanker capability. A separate contract is currently under negotiation for the A330s to be converted to Multirole Tanker/Transport (MRTT) standard by Airbus at Getafe, Spain. This process takes around 18 months.

The KC-30s are assigned to 2°/2°GT (2nd squadron, 2nd transport group), better known as the Esquadrão Corsário. Flying from Galeão—located at Rio de Janeiro’s principal international airport—the unit operated the Boeing KC-137 (707) tanker/transport until the type was retired in 2013. From 2016 the squadron flew a leased Boeing 767 transport. When the KC-30s are in service with refueling capability, they will restore the ability of the FAB to conduct long-range deployments that was lost with the end of the KC-137, as well as significantly expand the FAB’s capacity to respond to humanitarian emergencies and logistics requirements.