Brazilian Aeronautics Industry Day: the manufacture of GripenBrazilian Aeronautics Industry Day: the manufacture of Gripen

The first fighter jet production line established outside Sweden was a milestone in the FAB’s F-X2 program

Air Force Agency, by Lieutenant Myrea Calazans

October 17 is Brazilian Aeronautical Industry Day and, to celebrate this important date, we’re going to “travel” behind the scenes of the F-39 Gripen assembly line in Brazil. The first fighter production line established outside Sweden was a historic milestone in the Brazilian Air Force’s (FAB) F-X2 program. This is because it has increased the capacity to defend and guarantee the sovereignty of Brazil’s airspace and its borders.

Located at the facilities of the Brazilian Aeronautics Company (Embraer), in Gavião Peixoto, in the interior of São Paulo, the line occupies a hangar dedicated exclusively to this activity, which is conducted by Embraer employees trained by Saab, in Sweden, through the technology transfer and industrial cooperation program established in the Gripen acquisition contract.

The initiative opens the door to making the country a fighter aircraft production center. “The aim is also to produce here any future Gripen orders for Brazil, as well as from other countries,” explains the Director of Industrial Cooperation for the Brazilian Gripen Program at Saab Brazil, Luis Antonio Hernandez Gonzales.

Behind the scenes

Embraer and Saab have been working closely together to set up this assembly line, which is why they have organized a robust team to work on the project. Around 200 employees are directly involved, with 60 dedicated to the production area as operators, supervisors and managers and the rest providing production engineering, procurement, logistics, quality, administrative and other support.

Studies have been carried out to align the companies’ procedures and methodologies to enable communication between the technical, industrial, quality and other areas. The aerostructures produced by Saab in São Bernardo do Campo (SP) and the others manufactured in Sweden were taken to Gavião Peixoto for the final assembly of the fighter jet.

The industrial work includes joining together four structural assemblies: the rear fuselage, the central fuselage of the wing, the cannon unit and the front fuselage. Then the cabling, equipment, systems, landing gear, avionics, canopy, ejection seats, radar, engine and others are installed. Finally, the aircraft goes through functional tests and production flights in preparation for final delivery to the FAB.

Inside the facilities

With the aim of expanding the Gripen’s versatility to enable it to best respond to the FAB’s interests, the Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN) was inaugurated in November 2016 at Embraer, an engineering center responsible for development processes such as systems integration, aerostructure design, systems installation and human-machine interface. The space was set up with the mission of being the central hub for much of the technological development of Brazil’s new fighter jet by Saab and Embraer, together with other Brazilian partner companies and institutions.

The environment is virtually integrated between the two countries, with data and information security. “This kind of experience adds positively to the careers of everyone involved because of the interaction with other professionals from different cultures. The direct connection with Sweden allows us to make decisions more easily and to continue with the realization and development of Gripen. This is priceless, as it is a unique opportunity to participate in the development cycle of a fighter jet for Brazil,” says Felipe Langellotti Silva, product development engineer at Embraer.

Embraer is also home to the Gripen Flight Test Centre (GFTC), a structure that is part of the Gripen Technology Transfer Program. The space was built to ensure the standardization of all flight test procedures, allowing for efficiency gains and agility in capturing and sharing information between countries.

Photos: Saab Group

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