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Richard Ljungberg: the first pilot to fly the Brazilian Gripen E

3 min read

Monday, August 26, 2019, at 8:00 a.m., local time in Brazil, whilst many people were getting up for another routine day at work, Richard Ljungberg was preparing for the maiden flight of the first Brazilian Gripen in Sweden.



Pilot Richard Ljungberg at the ceremony for the delivery of the first Brazilian Gripen E, in September 2019, in Linköping, Sweden.

Read below about the pilot's thoughts of his experience flying the Brazilian Air Force's newest fighter jet.

Used to flying Saab fighters, especially Gripen aircraft, Richard Ljungberg, the first pilot to fly the Brazilian Gripen E, tells that the flight was an unique experience in his career, given that the event gained global awareness and because he was working with a completely new cockpit.

Because of this unprecedented opportunity, Richard says that the importance of the occasion became even clearer to him in the moments just before and after the flight. According to him, during the maiden flight, his focus was 100% on the manoeuvrability tests, and of flight quality at different altitudes and speeds. The main goal was to verify that the aircraft was behaving as expected. "This is a new cockpit in comparison to other Gripen aircraft. It is equipped with a Wide Area Display (WAD), a Head Up Display (HUD) – a frontal control panel – and other types of monitors and panels. It was a very important milestone in my career," said Ljungberg.

According to Richard, the new WAD-equipped cockpit will give the pilots important flexibility in terms of display configurations, as it enables the adaptation of presentations in order to support the pilot in the various phases of the mission. The WAD will increase situational awareness and decision-making during aerial combat.

After 65 minutes in the air, the Brazilian Gripen landed on the runway in Linköping completing its first test flight successfully and meeting all expectations. "The flight was smooth and the aircraft behaved exactly as we had rehearsed on the test equipment and simulators. This also was the first time that we flew with the Wide Area Display in the cockpit, and I'm pleased to say that it met my expectations," said Richard.

Lastly, the pilot confirmed his awareness of the importance of this flight to Saab, the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) and to the Swedish Air Force, and consequently, of the global interest, which made the moment not just another flight in his career, but a very special experience in his life.