From the outside it could be any industrial area in the middle of Sweden; buildings from various parts of the 20th century, people coming in the mornings and leaving in the afternoon, and trucks bringing materials to the gates, but that is where the similarities cease… the trucks will be empty when they leave and the products will instead fly away.
It is fascinating; there are only a few companies around the world that are able to do this, create a modern, world-class Fighter Jet. From starting with a piece of aluminium, adding millions of development hours and hundreds of thousands of hours of great workmanship, the flight controller at Linköping airport will say the words “Cleared to take-off”, and an aircraft will fly away. This is truly incredible. And we, Oskar and Daniel, new employees at Saab, are in the middle of this. During our first weeks at Saab we followed those blocks of aluminium coming in on its journey toward a finished aircraft.
We participate in the Saab Graduate Leadership Program and for a few weeks had the opportunity to follow the Gripen production. We did this by taking part in each step of the production and it was quite cool. Oskar is employed as a Commercial Manager and Daniel is employed as a Strategical Planner, both within Business Area Aeronautics. Aeronautics is the part within Saab where we take care of most things connected to the fighter programs. During the next year we will work and learn about various part of Saab, both within Sweden and abroad. The incredible start we have had in the Fighter production seems to be the beginning of an interesting journey for us both.
The best part of our time in production was meeting all of the incredible and skilled people that work within the various stages of the production. The common attribute was skill and a whole bunch of patience in combination with accuracy. For example, when we talked about allowed margin of 1, 2 or 5, it was not in millimetres, it was in hundreds of millimetres. The individual accuracy and craftsmanship is not enough, all individuals have to cooperate and there are hundreds of people involved in the production. This hard work gets added to the work from the thousands of other employees at Aeronautics involved in the developing, designing and integrating of all the systems for the aircraft. It is truly extraordinary how it all comes together to get this “block of aluminium” up in the air.
These were a couple of really impressive weeks and we are grateful to all the people we have met and how they halted their day to explain the systems they worked with and answer all our questions.