Akaer, a company specializing in project management, was the first Brazilian company to partner with Saab. Chosen, in 2009, to participate on the project to develop the fighter's fuselage – even before Saab was selected to supply fighters to the Brazilian Air Force – Akaer is about to commemorate the mark of half a million hours of work on the Gripen development program.
During this period, around 100 professionals already have participated on the projects for Gripen's rear and central fuselages and weapons pylons. Since the partnership's start, Lister Pereira da Silva has served as the head engineer and director of the program at Akaer. A mechanical engineer with 16 years of experience in the aviation industry, he was worked at Akaer since 2002 and, because of the partnership with Saab, had an opportunity to live in Sweden for one year, over periods of up to four straight months.
"Developing a fighter is a unique opportunity not just for the professionals, but also for Akaer and Brazil," said Silva. "The aircraft's technologies don't exist yet in Brazil, which is why the technology transfer program is so important," he added.
The company, which is headquartered in São José dos Campos, a city in the interior of São Paulo state, has a multidisciplinary team dedicated to the Gripen program. These are professionals allocated to structural engineering, structural and electrical designs, manufacturing, industrialization, human resources, quality management and planning.
"The characteristics of the professionals serving on the team include, in addition to solid knowledge of aeronautics, fluency in English, flexibility, easy adaptation and exceptional academic backgrounds. But the most important thing is: everyone is above average technically," Silva explained.
Marcelo Xavier is one of these professionals. The engineer, who accompanied development of the FX-2 program from afar, had one goal in mind when he applied for a position at Akaer: to work on the Gripen's development. Hired, in 2009, by the company based in São José dos Campos, in 2010, he joined the fighter program as a structures engineering leader, when he had his first opportunity to travel to Sweden. After that, he made another five trips.
"What motivates me to work on the project is the opportunity to learn, which in the aerospace industry you do over your entire career," said Xavier. "I have transformed the way that I lead teams after working together with Saab and my Swedish colleagues. I now adopt a more collaborative leadership, always believing firmly in people's contributions."
Flavio Teramoto joined Akaer in 1998 and, in 2009, became chief structures designer for the Gripen program. Since then, he has travelled over ten times to Sweden and says he's really happy with the job.
"Being selected to participate on the development of a fighter is alone a huge emotion. Signing off on the FX-2 program and begin a part of Gripen E's first flight in Sweden were other special moments. Now, the big expectation is to see the aircraft in Brazil," said Teramoto.
The relationship with Akaer is also very valuable to Saab, which is constantly seeking new partners for the development of new products and services.
"These partner companies become part of Saab's global supply chain. And they're also qualified to work on other projects in Brazil and abroad," said Luis Hernandez, Gripen Brazil's industrial cooperation director. "The technology transfer program has been a success and one of the factors for this is surely the quality of the Brazilian professionals, who are highly dedicated to learning," Hernandez concluded.