The Tucano EMB-312 is a small, single-engined basic training and counter-insurgency aircraft, developed by the famous Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, EMBRAER (former abbreviation for Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica S.A.) based in Sao Jose dos Campos, Sao Paulo state, Brazil.
The X-Plane developers at the Brazilian FlightSim Development Group (BFDG), have developed a virtual version of the EMB-312, or AT-27, for us X-Plane flight simulator users to enjoy, which includes the following features:
- English manual including a nice and clear overview of the aircraft and functionalities.
- Comprehensive normal and abnormal/emergency checklist.
- Flight characteristics tested by pilots.
- Fourteen liveries including many air forces (including RAF) and two civil variants.
- SASL-based plugin with convenient menu for switching off mirrors, opening canopy, engine cowling, oxygen masks and so on.
- Basic custom 3D sounds.
- Drop tanks, gun pods and unguided bomb mounts available.
- Paint kit for livery developers.
Before we look at the X-Plane model, let me first introduce you to the real Tucano EMB-312 in more detail.
The Tucano is a pretty fast turboprop aircraft with two seats, making it an ideal basic trainer for military aviation. The plans for this aircraft came about in the 1970's, resulting from a demand for a cheap and light alternative to the Cessna T-37C twin jet trainer. The fuel crisis of the 70's had a big impact on the Brazilian economy, meaning the old 1950's Cessna trainers were simply too expensive to operate efficiently. Basic trainers such as the piston powered Neiva Universal were a cheaper alternative, but since the Neivas did not come with ejection seats and were overall slightly inadequate as a replacement for the C-37, a new solution was required. Embraer tried to produce an upgraded Neiva design (EMB-311) but air force requirements were still not being met. However, interest in the newer design was sparked, and Embraer became interested in developing a better trainer. This trainer would become the EMB-312, also known as Tucano (or AT-27 for the Brazilian Air Force).
The name "Tucano" was given to the EMB-312 in a contest held in the Brazilian Air Force Academy. The Tucano, of course, being the Amazonian bird with the massive orange beak.
The Embraer Tucano turned out to be a trend setter in the military trainer world, selling hundreds of units to many nations' air forces. Over a hundred upgraded Tucanos were produced in license by the Short Brothers in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Embraer chose the immensely popular Pratt & Whitney Canada PT-6A turboprop engine to power the Tucano. With a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 3175 kg (or 7000 lbs) and 750 hp to drag this weight along, it has plenty of power to spare. This aids the maximum normal speed of 247 kts at 13,500 ft. The never exceed speed is 291 kts. For a single prop, the service ceiling is also quite impressive at 28,700 ft. Also quite nice to know, are the G-limits, which are +6/-3.
For the counter insurgency role, the Tucano can be fitted with four pylons, capable of mounting various rocket pods, cannons, bombs, and auxiliary fuel tanks.
The cockpit of the Embraer Tucano has a generic military style layout, with a Head-Up-Display and an analogue basic-six straight in front of the pilot. Engine and system gauges are positioned just right of the basic six, and an annunciator panel is on the far right. The gear lever and inertial separator lever are located on the far left, together with the landing/taxi lights, standby compass, trim gauges and marker lights. Overall, this cockpit is fairly basic and easy to understand.