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Brazilians and Swedes advance in the integration of Gripen navigation systems

4 min read

Three Brazilian system and software engineers are advancing on the integration between VOR (VHF Omnidirecional Range Equipment) and TACAN/DME (Tactical Air Navigation/Distance Measuring Equipment), the last one being a unique feature to Brazilian Air Force’s F-39 Gripen. All the work is done from Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN). This is an important hub for technology transfer, located at the Embraer facilities, in Gavião Peixoto, in the state of São Paulo.

VOR is a device capable of measuring the course of the aircraft to the ground transmitter, which aids navigation. The integration should be completed in 2021. The TACAN/DME serves to measure the distance and the course of the aircraft to a ground or air transmitter. Its integration should be finished by the end of 2023. The project is developed under the supervision of Saab’s department of Flight Data & Navigation, in Sweden. In weekly meetings, the Swedish team is able to follow the advances made in the country, in the same way that Brazilians have access to all the necessary information with computers that are integrated with Saab in Linköping.

“Embraer’s Brazilian engineers have advanced expertise on development of software that is critical for flight and safety. We shared information about the operation of the device with them, so they are able to develop the concept and test it on S-Rig, the first Gripen’s development simulator outside Linköping. After that, we had a meeting to assess whether the work is in compliance with the operational requirements. The Brazilian engineers experience from developing safety critical software is a big advantage, since there is hard to find engineers with this kind of experience in Sweden”, commented Andreas Bergström, head of E/F Flight Data & Navigation.

Before practice, Brazilian engineers underwent on-the-job training at Saab in 2018. This joint effort is part of the technology transfer process that aims to provide the practical knowledge needed to perform these same tasks in Brazil, outside of a training and education environment, in so-called work packages. Altogether, there are more than 50 of these packages, which involve the areas of systems, structure, software and avionics, for example.

“The technology transfer process begins with the theory. Then, during the on-the-job training, Brazilians learn through activities under the supervision and monitoring of a Swedish mentor from Saab. When the practical training is over is the moment when we are able to notice the benefits brought about by the technology transfer. Nowadays, these professionals actively engage in aircraft development in GDDN”, explains Colonel Leite, manager of the FX-2 Programme, in the Coordinating Committee of the Fighter Aircraft Programme (COPAC).

Upon returning to Brazil, the system and software engineers began working on the GDDN in 2019. From then on, the Brazilian team worked with the integration of the RALT (Radar Altimeter Equipment) system, a radar that measures the distance from the aircraft to the ground, helping to determine altitude. This part of the work package was completed and handed over for further flight test evaluation in late 2020.

“When the development project ends and goes through the simulations on the S-Rig, the system starts to be tested on the aircraft. The Brazilian team then transferred the RALT to the Flight Test Department to see how the equipment behaves in action,” said Bergström.

To learn more about GDDN, watch episode 9 of the second season of the True Collaboration webseries.

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