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Aircraft building: a national issue

Uğur CEBECİ

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Chatting with Embraer CEO Frederico Fleury-Curado at the Emiliano Hotel in Sao Paolo and I am enjoying a profound conversation with the president of the world’s third biggest aircraft building factory. Here, we both agree on one point: Why hasn’t Turkey built its own aircraft yet?

All the questions and answers tie up at the engineering aspect of the issue at hand. The truth that emerges is that we could only be an “assembler” because we haven’t been able to turn aircraft building into a “national issue.”

Impressed with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's well-set attitude, the CEO strongly suggests the establishment of a design center. First should come design and good engineers, and then it seems it would be quite easy for Turkey to build its own airplane. He says they are ready for cooperation and he has already informed the prime minister of that.

Embrear's Turkey representative Ergun Tuç holds the same belief. He thinks they could speed up the process without any problems with a Brazilian partner. I am checking the passenger aircrafts built by the factory. Our neighbors particularly ordered hugely from Embrear's 190 or 195 models. Lufthansa has been using them for a long time. What is more the company soon will start using these airplanes for its flights from Munich to Bursa. Then, there will be a strong connection between Kayseri, Adana, Trabzon and Munich thanks to Embraer. Maybe one day we will see the Gazipaşa Airport connected to London. Tehran will be connected to Van, Kayseri to Damascus, and Moscow to İzmir. Economic flights will be both comfortable and enjoyable with fewer passengers.

Embraer's Turkey representative and the boss of Delta Aviation Ergun Tuç and company’s sales manager Ayşe Çamlıkaya have documented knowledge about the operational success of airliners using these airplanes, such as Japan Airlines, Gulf Air, American JetBlue, and KLM.

Golden kids of Brazil

After World War II, Brazilians set about establishing an aviation industry capable of building their own national aircraft. But the biggest problem was there were no qualified engineers in the country to do so, for whom to be raised they first needed to open a university and find students.

Brazil aviation technology institute Instituto de Pesquisas e Desenvolvimento, or IPD, was opened in 1947. They determined the most successful, and brilliant students of the country, among those who passed the mandatory tests were sent to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, in the Untied States to be raised as aircraft engineers.

The most successful graduates continued their academic education with masters and Ph.D. programs. When these students came back home they, together with their professors from MIT, formed the academic staff of the aviation technology institute.

The golden kids of Brazil managed to fly the Convertiplano airplane and Beija-Flor helicopter (their first projects) successfully in 1954.

After they finished the academic infrastructure and flew their designs, the Brazilians moved to one step ahead. The new mission was building an aircraft that could be used both for military and civilian purposes, could land and take off from any surface or runway, having eight seats and two engines. Known as ‘Bandeirante' by the whole world, this dream plane took off Oct. 22, 1968.

When they saw the fruit of their labor, the government made a vital decision and the Brazilian Aviation Company Embraer was officially opened Aug. 19, 1969.

Bandeirante, later to be called as EBM110, started a rapid rise in both civil and military aviation markets. More than 500 airplanes were sold to some 36 countries. The following design was EMB200 Ipanema insecticide application airplane. Sold more than 1,100 units so far, Ipanema has been produced for 40 years now. It has a version that runs on alcohol.

Embraer has always managed to keep the balance between military and civil projects. The company invested in one what it has earned in the other.

Embraer is looking to the future with its business jet family Phenom 100, 300, and with the Legacy 450, 500 in the middle-class category. On one hand it is developing the ERJ145 series Legacy 600 for business jet and military purposes, while on the other hand the KC-390, a military transportation aircraft with jet engines, is counting down to its initial take off. Today Embraer has 3,500 engineers and some 17,000 employees. Some 20 percent of all its workers on the assembly lines are women. The fact that they pay better attention to details enhances the quality. The company’s annual turnover is $5.5 billon and has $20 billion worth of aircraft orders in its portfolio.

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