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 ImbraAerospace sent a team of 20 Brazilian engineers and technicians to Swedento start working on the project of the new Swedish fighter, the GripenNG, produced by Saab Aerosystems. Besides the Swedish group, theAmerican Boeing and the French Dassault are competing to sell 36fighters to the Brazilian Air Force.

"The actual cooperation with Saab started on August 31, with the objectiveof totally engaging all companies in the project, including themastering of important technologies in the aircraft and access to allsensitive areas in the company plant in Linköping, Sweden",explains the Akaer CEO, César Augusto da Silva. T1, the holding joiningthe five Brazilian companies involved in the new Swedish fighterproject, 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 thepartnership with Saab is in a way dependent on the F-X2 project,considering the possibility that Brazil becomes the launching client ofthe Gripen NG if it is chosen, this factor is not necessarily decisivefor the permanence of the Brazilian companies in the development of thenew fighter. "Our companies were selected in an international offerwithin 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 tobecome world-class suppliers for any client of the Gripen NG fighter.The holding's idea is to form a new aeronautical center in Brazil inthe 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 withno added value or engineering activity. The issue is not only making,but knowing how to make, and we have started learning that in thisjoint work," comments Akaer technical director Ricardo Fontes. Theinformation 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 150engineers and technicians from the T1 holding will start working inBrazil 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'sturnover will reach US$ 500 million and around 2.9 thousand job postswill be created in the next 10 years. "If the F-X2 result favors theGripen, in six months we will double the current number ofcollaborators," says Silva. "The partnership with Saab may be a hugetechnological leap with the same impact AMX had to Embraer, when theywere 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 materialsare more resistant than those used in civil aircraft. "Akaer is quiteexperienced in the project and calculation areas, but with the GripenNG program we will also acquiremanufacturing know how."
One of the points highlighted by him is that during the phase oflearning new technologies, the Brazilian team will be involved in the development processfrom the beginning. "We will use computer tools involved in the processfrom the initial concept to the end product." According to Ferraz, inBrazil 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 andintegration deficiencies. "This is our opportunity to change thatsituation. We will gain integration in a quicker way." Today, theintegration is done through foreign suppliers that receive partiallyfinished sets and finish them in Brazil.
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