Brazilian Engineers Already Working on the Gripen Fighter Project

While the Brazilian government decides to give another chance for the companies to improve their offers in the bid for the new fighter planes Brazil is buying, the technology transfer for this type of airplane has already begun with at least one of the competitors, Saab.

[Led] by Akaer, the companies Friuli, Winnstal, Minoica and Imbra
Aerospace sent a team of 20 Brazilian engineers and technicians to Sweden
to start working on the project of the new Swedish fighter, the Gripen
NG, produced by Saab Aerosystems. Besides the Swedish group, the
American Boeing and the French Dassault are competing to sell 36
fighters to the Brazilian Air Force.

“The actual cooperation with Saab started on August 31, with the objective
of totally engaging all companies in the project, including the
mastering of important technologies in the aircraft and access to all
sensitive areas in the company plant in Linköping, Sweden”,
explains the Akaer CEO, César Augusto da Silva. T1, the holding joining
the five Brazilian companies involved in the new Swedish fighter
project, will be responsible for projecting and manufacturing the central and rear fuselages and wings of the Gripen NG.

According to the Akaer officer, though the success of the
partnership with Saab is in a way dependent on the F-X2 project,
considering the possibility that Brazil becomes the launching client of
the Gripen NG if it is chosen, this factor is not necessarily decisive
for the permanence of the Brazilian companies in the development of the
new fighter. “Our companies were selected in an international offer
within Saab’s strategy of finding international partners for the project,” he explains.

Technology transfer in the area of structures made of composed materials,
according to the Akaer director, will enable Brazilian companies to
become world-class suppliers for any client of the Gripen NG fighter.
The holding’s idea is to form a new aeronautical center in Brazil in
the area of intelligence development and airplane production cycle,
leaving behind the phase of being a mere part supplier.

“We would not be involved only in the process of making parts with
no added value or engineering activity. The issue is not only making,
but knowing how to make, and we have started learning that in this
joint work,” comments Akaer technical director Ricardo Fontes. The
information exchange in the project, engineering andmanufacturing areas of the Swedish fighters is being done, according to Fontes, with the authorization of the Swedish government.

Akaer predicts that as from next year a team of at least 150
engineers and technicians from the T1 holding will start working in
Brazil together with 20 Swedish specialists. The Brazilians already inSweden will work there for a six-month period, according to Fontes.

The directors of Akaer estimate that in four years the holding’s
turnover will reach US$ 500 million and around 2.9 thousand job posts
will be created in the next 10 years. “If the F-X2 result favors the
Gripen, in six months we will double the current number of
collaborators,” says Silva. “The partnership with Saab may be a huge
technological leap with the same impact AMX had to Embraer, when they
were enabled to develop their very successful family of regional jets.”

Brazil will help shaping supersonic plane wings

The manager of the Structural Segments Project of the new Swedish fighter Gripen NG, materials engineer Fernando Ferraz, responsible for the area of engineering and quality in Akaer, was summoned to coordinate the training of the 20 Brazilian engineers who are in Sweden learning to decipher the technology of supersonic airplanes. “It is the first time a Brazilian company has the chance to shape the wing of a supersonic airplane.”

From the manufacturing standpoint, according to the engineer, the level of requirements for the parts, which will be made of composed materials, is more critical because the parts are thicker and the materials
are more resistant than those used in civil aircraft. “Akaer is quite
experienced in the project and calculation areas, but with the Gripen
NG program we will also acquiremanufacturing know how.”

One of the points highlighted by him is that during the phase of
learning new technologies, the Brazilian team will be involved in the development process
from the beginning. “We will use computer tools involved in the process
from the initial concept to the end product.” According to Ferraz, in
Brazil there is still nocompany in the aeronautical sector, with the exception of Embraer, that can integrate the whole process of producing an important part of a plane.

The suppliers in the Brazilian aeronautical chain, according to him,
have reached a very good technical level, but have managing and
integration deficiencies. “This is our opportunity to change that
situation. We will gain integration in a quicker way.” Today, the
integration is done through foreign suppliers that receive partially
finished sets and finish them in Brazil.