This section addresses Saab's core operations and industrial capabilities, and describes the prerequisites for conducting the permit-regulated operations that encompass military aviation. In practical terms, this entails that an effective organisation must be shaped based on the applicable regulatory requirements.
Also covered here is the change that occurred when government agencies transferred full responsibility to Saab for developing a materiel system for military aircraft. Development and production of weapons systems for functions critical to flight safety place considerable demands on an organisation since it is consequently required to serve as the operative entity instead of the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV), as previously.
Initially described here are the requirements that must be fulfilled for developing and producing advanced military products – permit-regulated development. This is followed by a section on what is required to accomplish this, which can be expressed as “building complex systems and the practical working procedure, design-critical foundations”.
To manage this, Saab has produced clear working procedures, and above all, a clear responsibility structure. Included here are the requisite capabilities for serving as an integrator and product administrator for a military aircraft product. Also set out here are the requirements stipulated by military regulations regarding working procedures and responsibility. Other significant aspects are addressed as well, such as requirements for system thinking, competence and innovation capability for being able to comply with customer requirements.
There are also descriptions of how practical tasks are carried out when designing advanced military products and which design-critical aspects that must be considered during development. Also set out here are the requirements for developing advanced military products and systems, as well as the work necessary with continuous skills development and mentoring.
Moreover, the author's analysis is presented regarding assessment of the organisation and which factors are significant for being able to develop advanced military products.
The author recommends the following texts that relate to this story: In chapter Creating value for customers under the heading Tactical loop – operational capability, under the heading Concept methodology and in chapter Having a low life cycle cost under the heading Systems engineering.
The text concerns the marked areas in A Journey of Change in the Aircraft Industry
There is a responsibility structure in Sweden for aircraft weapons systems regarding military products. Responsibility was transferred during the 1990s from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) to Saab. This responsibility encompasses developing and demonstrating the safety – and thereby the airworthiness – of military aircraft. In the case of aircraft, more specifically the Gripen and SK60, Saab answers to the authority as regards to safety. The military aviation authority has transferred full responsibility for delivery of military products to the industry.
This was a radical transformation that required a great deal of adaptability, entailing major changes in responsibility and working procedures that came to characterise Saab's work for many years.
Saab became the operative entity in the military aviation system. Saab is thus accredited in this responsibility structure and can now declare airworthiness for aircraft, both manned and unmanned. Accreditation was provided by the Swedish Military Aviation Safety Inspectorate.
Over several decades, Saab has developed a freedom with accountability concept, which has enabled engineers to develop their innovation capabilities. Experience-based innovation has been transferred via various networks within all operational and technology areas.
To design, develop, manufacture, maintain and conduct aviation activities for military operations, a number of permits are required. Operations subject to permits are regulated by aviation authorities.
When the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration began surveying its operations and its exercise of government authority during the 1990s, it included several roles.
At the time, the administration had substantial resourcesexpertise and experience that was entirely unique in the field of aviation, and even integration responsibility for entire aviation materiel systems.
A large and important part of operations was conducted in practice on an administrative level, which entailed that the administration specified and ordered systems and functions for customers, not products.
To establish unequivocal responsibility roles between government agencies and the industry, it was decided in 1996 that a neutral network would be established.
The administration was now charged with modifying its role; systems and functions would no longer be procured, but rather products, and the administration would no longer be an integrator and product administrator for the Gripen system. These duties and responsibilities would instead be transferred to the industry.
Saab thus assumed product responsibility, which meant that Saab needed to become a level 3 operative entity in the aviation materiel system structure for the military aviation system.
The configuration and requirements structure are shown below for the military aviation regulations that are based on system thinking. Level in the figure below refers to responsibility level. The parts of the structure enclosed by the dotted lines in the figure constitute Saab's area of responsibility for various products. For the Gripen, responsibility level 3 applies, and for the trainer aircraft MS/SK 60, responsibility levels 2 and 3 apply.
The figure shows configuration and requirements structure for the military aviation regulations
To conduct permit-controlled development of military products, permits from the authorities are mandatory. The permits Saab requires are determined by Military Design Permits. Saab must therefore have an established design assurance system and this system must be constantly maintained. The design assurance system is used to assure through management and monitoring, that all aviation products satisfy the requirements for which they are certified, including all changes to the fundamental design and basic configuration.
An operative entity in the military aviation system must be authorised and hold the requisite operational permits issued by the Swedish Military Aviation Safety Inspectorate to be able to declare the airworthiness of an aviation product.
The Swedish Military Aviation Safety Inspectorate verifies handling of requirements with an entrance audit prior to authorisation. Only organisations and operations certified by the Swedish Military Aviation Safety Inspectorate may declare airworthiness. Permits in the form of Military Type Certificates (MTC) for aircraft and Materiel System Certificates (MSI) for weapon systems are issued per product by the Swedish Military Aviation Safety Inspectorate, and all operational permits must be annually reviewed. Permits are also required for making larger changes to the design of an aircraft. Saab presently holds operational permits and certificates for aviation products.
There are Swedish regulations that describe what applies for military aviation. These are entitled Regulations for Military Aviation and regulate development of military products. The Swedish Military Aviation Safety Inspectorate is the proprietor and administrator for these regulations. Saab's regulations are comprehensive for how aircraft are to be safely developed and built.
Saab has a number of different permits, including operational permits for Design, Production, Aviation Service and Aviation Maintenance Service. These permits are linked to several other activities that require permits, such as Aviation Weather Service, Airports and Bases, as well as Air Traffic Control/Combat Command and Communications.
The regulations also include basic directives and general guidelines primarily oriented to those who lead and are responsible for operations at military units, staffs, works, maintenance organisations and industrial companies within the military aviation system.
Definition of airworthiness: An aircraft is airworthy if it is designed, manufactured, verified, equipped and maintained in compliance with the designated safety requirements, and has properties that are also in compliance with these requirements.
To be able to declare and document airworthiness, various types of aircraft inspections and checks are required with approved results. This entails that all included systems in a product and the overall functionality of the aircraft are checked and approved. Once this is done, a declaration is issued that designates the product as safe.
In the regulations for military aviation, overall responsibility is defined for the entire aviation materiel structure with regard to interoperability. This responsibility rests with the designated operative entity. For a permit-regulated organisation, this entails considerable personal responsibility for the person holding this role. This is a guarantee for assuring that the entire organisation for which the permits concern is in compliance with the requirements placed by the authorities for being able to build a safe product. The person holding such a position has personal legal responsibility for the organisation for which the permits apply.
Companies with permits to develop military products must be able to produce proof of how work is conducted and monitored to gain approval from the authorities.
For Saab to declare a product as safe, the company must create and comply with an operational management system with processes and methods used in operations. These processes and methods have been accepted by the authorities after the entrance audit, which is the occasion upon which Saab was approved and received the requisite permits from the authorities.
Saab's operational management system is comprehensive as regards to how aircraft are developed and built in a safe manner, which is an important aspect if Saab is to be able to declare a product airworthy. The operational management system controls and guides Saab’s employees by identifying external and internal requirements for the organisation and implementing these in processes, methods, roles, etc. Consequently, proof for the authorities that Saab works in a correct manner is constituted by Saab's operational management system, which all employees follow.
Thereafter, the authorities annually confirm that operations comply with the requirements and employ approved working procedures. Fundamental changes affecting working procedures must be approved by the authorities.
Continuous improvement is a basic prerequisite for the organisation and is reflected in the operational management system by the policies, values and strategies that produce the guidelines for how operations are to be conducted. To realise this, responsibilities and organisational structures are described for all parts of the organisation. When these are implemented, descriptions are provided for how competencies and resources are effectively utilised through the processes that describe how work is to be performed. In this way, products and services can be produced, and the requirements from customers and other stakeholders can be satisfied. Upon significant changes, a permit holder is obligated to ensure that the changes are accepted by the authorities.
The figure illustrates the components of the business Management system.
This interpretation constitutes the foundation for Saab's working procedures that all employees must comply with in carrying out their duties. This regulation type describes responsibilities and working procedures. They encompass all parts of the organisation and include, for example, the responsibility descriptions, manuals, instructions and handbooks needed to safely perform work and to build a safe product.
There is a special operational manual that constitutes the top document of the operational management system. Descriptions are provided here of the requirements and standards that the organisation must comply with and of how certification is awarded in keeping with these requirements.
Aviation is subject to several different regulations, both for civil and military aviation systems. The regulations used in airworthiness declarations for civil aviation systems have been prepared by the Air Transport Association (ATA). They are not however, sufficiently extensive for military aviation systems since the ATA regulations do not include instructions for weapon systems. Specific for military aviation systems is that they are subject to the Regulations for Military Aircraft, issued by the Swedish Military Aviation Inspectorate.
Responsibility for complying with the requirements from the authorities is stipulated in a delegation directive, which entails that the CEO for Saab AB has delegated the operative corporate responsibility to the head of the Aeronautics business area.
There is thereafter a secondary delegation to the head of the Aero Operations unit to serve in the role of the accountable manager regarding regulations for military aviation. The accountable manager has further delegated the responsibility to various permit holders. This delegation is documented in special operational directives for all held operational permits. Permit holders are those who serve as department managers in the units Design, Production, Aviation Service and Aviation Maintenance Service. The responsibility is subsequently assigned to a number of roles in the respective organisations.
The image shows the various operational permits
Depending on the degree of impact on flight safety that a system in the aircraft has, different requirements are placed for working procedures, processes and system verification. All technical processes must comply with regulatory requirements that are documented in the operational management system.
The regulations and processes are adapted to how critical a system in an aircraft is for flight safety. For the operational permit that concerns design, each system change is classified as major or minor regarding impact on flight safety. The Design area of operations has a role designated head of design, and this role has the ultimate responsibility for the fulfilment of all airworthiness requirements.
A design organisation is comprised of a number of roles in a hierarchical structure. The ultimate responsibility rests with the CEO for Saab AB; delegation is subsequently implemented on several levels. In practice, flight assessment responsibility is divided between the head of the design organisation, the head of the office for airworthiness certificates and the head of the department for independent monitoring of systems for design review.
Certain specific responsibilities also fall to personnel authorised to make decisions that affect airworthiness, as well as personnel who check and verify requirements concerning airworthiness. Central to work with airworthiness matters is the monitoring of compliance with processes and methods for design assurance.
The head of design conducts practical duties through another role, designated as chief engineer. A chief engineer is responsible for one or several products and participates in various product development projects.
Both the head of design, but primarily the chief engineer, provide guidelines for airworthiness requirements regarding a product's design. These two roles have the mandate to decide which requirements should apply to technical solutions in order to ensure fulfilment of the authority's requirements for an airworthy product.
The systems that directly affect flight functions critical to safety have rigorous processes for verification of functions. Such functions concern, for example, take-off, landing, flight and armed missions. The systems that concern tactical functions have a lesser effect on airworthiness. Examples of such systems are radar and countermeasure gear.
During product development, special requirements are often placed on a certain working procedure and an adaptation of the general methodology for a specific product. In such cases, this working procedure is described in a document called The System Engineering Management Plan.
Approval for this type of application is given by the head of design and the process proprietor for technical processes, who has the ultimate responsibility for all technical processes in the operational management system. The System Engineering Management Plan then becomes an application and specification of the business area's operational management system.
In summary, it can be said that the proof for being able to declare a product as safe and airworthy is constituted both by a responsibility structure and a well-documented operational management system. The head of design role has the ultimate responsibility for the fulfilment of all airworthiness requirements.
The complex products built by Saab require a large number of different technical disciplines. Saab has chosen to organise systems development work into 14 different technology areas, and each technology area has methods and tools adapted to this end.
The figure shows the technology areas at Saab.
The organisation and responsibility in the technology areas encompass skills in developing systems and products for the entire tactical loop.
Tactical loop is a term used by the military for operational missions. It encompasses all activities for operational planning, for execution and evaluation of an operational mission. All activities that concern operational missions are encompassed. Examples of such activities are:
The tactical loop is described in detail from an actual example of an operational mission in Libya.
There is a description of tactical loop solutions for customers’ day-to-day operations in Chapter 2.
Each technology area is in turn divided into responsibility structures. For military products, a materiel group structure is used, with the structure as agreed upon with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration.
The materiel group structure is divided into about 70 materiel groups for aircraft development, encompassing for example, aerodynamics, navigation and radar.
About 20 additional materiel groups are linked to other products that are included in the complete aviation materiel system, such as for external loads and training, planning and evaluation systems.
For every product that Saab develops, there is a design management team that plans technical development and guides it to concrete results. For each materiel group there is a technology leadership role called the materiel group manager. The persons in this role lead the respective technology areas and have a delegated airworthiness and legal responsibility. Within the materiel groups, there is also practical responsibility for development being in accordance with applicable regulations and permits.
A materiel group manager is charged with resolving the technical challenges for product systems and functions fulfilling the airworthiness requirements and being effective in operational use. Work in the materiel groups shall thus transform the customer's requirements into a product, which can involve the general air safety requirements for attaining the requisite operational permits.
All requirements for each materiel group are handled by the group. Moreover, interfaces with other materiel groups are monitored to ensure interoperability. The material groups collaborate with the development organisation in design work to ensure that the set requirements can be successfully implemented in practice, which is accomplished, for example, through participation in technical reviews. It must also be ensured that all verification and qualification of systems and devices are planned and conducted, and that type uniformity is achieved by monitoring type reviews.
A specific task is to assess and report the airworthiness situation to the accountable chief engineer and to ensure that needs for technological development are communicated to the concerned technical managers.
In order to ensure effective operations and to build advanced and safe products, development evolves in a number of steps of increasing maturity. Fundamentally, product development can be described as a growing maturity of the systems comprising the product. Maturity is developed gradually, step by step, until it can be verified that all established requirements have been fulfilled.
Gradual maturity is essential in development for ensuring and improving the quality of the system solutions in the chosen design and in the system and product architectures.
The groundwork for establishing sound maturity development involves defining goals, establishing strategies and measuring the growth and maturity of product results.
This work is conducted by different groups and certain members have key roles. These are chief engineers, technical managers, operations analysis experts, flight testing managers, development environment and development tool experts, customer representatives and product development managers.
Success requires a clear breakdown into manageable sub-steps, goal-oriented management of each sub-step, follow-up and adaptation of requirement specifications, as well as continuous development in all technology areas.
Development for being able to deliver a product approved by the customer is conducted by teams. These teams have roles such as chief engineers and various types of technical managers for operational analysis, flight testing, different types of tests, IT tools and system development environments, for example. Work is conducted in collaboration with the customer with defined goals and strategies.
In order to develop an advanced product, each phase of development must be defined in a number of steps. As work progresses, the included systems and functions gradually mature. Important aspects of this work include all of the different types of assessments that are essential in determining maturity development.
A few examples of important product maturity assessments include:
Basic maturity development in product development can be summarised in 10 steps.
The figure shows maturity development in product development.
Step 1 Basic design
Consists of all activities for defining architecture and the basic conditions for design, which assumes that the working procedures that will be used for the product have been completed.
Included in basic design are definition of the project form, development and quality plans, processes, methods and tools.
System safety work and the airworthiness process, which are essential for compliance with airworthiness permits, must be completed. To be able to develop the product, systems, hardware and software architectures for the product and the weapon system must also be defined.
Stage 2 Production start
To build the product, the structure, system architecture for the aircraft and design data must be completed. Moreover, all components must be defined.
Construction entails commencement of system work and actual production of the aircraft. The tactical ability to operate the aircraft must also be defined.
Stage 3 Test worthiness
This is the basis for testing with appropriate simulators. To be able to verify and validate a complete aircraft, the simulation capacity must have been defined, developed and be fully functional, with simulation of functions, flight characteristics and tactical ability.
Stage 4 Flight safety checks
These comprise the basis for ensuring function and characteristics prior to flying in a simulator.
To verify that all functions in the aircraft are in an airworthy state, all necessary aircraft systems, all airworthy systems and their redundancy modes, as well as the tactical systems that are to be used, must be complete and approved.
Step 5 First flight
The first flight is confirmation that development has progressed sufficiently for approval from all of the roles that are responsible for the airworthiness process and flight testing clearance.
The head of design in the product organisation has primary responsibility for the clearance. Airworthiness and flight test clearances are issued by an authorised person from the Swedish Military Aviation Safety Inspectorate.
To issue approved and requisite clearances, ground testing must have been completed and approved. This entails that starting of the aircraft and roll testing have been performed and approved. Furthermore, all airworthiness and flight test clearances must be approved.
Step 6 Fundamental flight and combat command capabilities
Missions can be planned, human-machine interfaces are complete, along with all functions for navigation and communications.
Fundamental capabilities also include systems for radar, countermeasures and all sensor functionality, as well as systems for communications between aircraft. Besides this, all activities for evaluation of flight characteristics must have been performed.
Step 7 Tactical capabilities
Tactical capabilities are developed in several sub-steps. Development of the tactical capabilities that the customer has ordered is conducted in an agreed order of priority. Examples of tactical capabilities are fighter, attack and reconnaissance capabilities. Development is both extensive and complex, and it takes at least as long to reach the first flight.
Step 8 Customer delivery
Upon customer delivery, all system tests for complete functionality and capacity have been completed and the customer can execute a tactical loop.
Step 9 Unit introduction
This is conducted at a end user the Swedish Armed Forces and entails that the product is put in service. During unit introduction, customer feedback for the entire delivery shall be addressed and any issues resolved.
Unit introduction entails that all functions and routines for training, use, maintenance and documentation have been delivered. All training has been completed and the personnel categories are certified. Moreover, systems developed by the customer and users are operable.
Upon unit introduction, both the Military Type Certificate (MTC) for the aircraft and the Materiel System Certificate (MSI) for the entire aviation materiel system are issued.
Step 10 Feedback from customer and users
Feedback loops, service and updates from the customer and users have been addressed. During the minimum of thirty years that an aviation materiel system is expected to be deployed, service, updates and adaptations for new technical solutions regularly occur.
If feedback entails changes that affect airworthiness for the product, such changes must be handled in accordance with the applicable regulations. This means that each change to a product that is subject to an operational permit (e.g. design) must follow approved processes in accordance with procedures agreed upon with the authorities.
The technical managers in the roles for head of design, chief engineer and materiel group manager have a substantial pedagogical responsibility for ensuring that all processes are followed and verified. They are also responsible for disseminating knowledge and experience to the entire development organisation. Important for these roles is the ability to understand and assess the technical maturity of developed systems and products.
The technical managers are also responsible for developing the entire technical organisation's capabilities through their leadership and participation in the forums where important technical decisions are made.
In practice, the technical managers influence day-to-day operations by establishing goals and plans in the technology areas in which they work, as well as participating in development projects by leading and planning technical activities. They also actively participate in the development of methodologies and working procedures with process proprietors.
The development of military aircraft is a very advanced industrial endeavour that requires engineering skills of a very high level and that are continuously honed. To implement this in practice, Saab utilises a professional development stairway.
Saab has invested heavily in training and development opportunities, both in breadth and depth. A special training and job rotation programme has been established in development operations and is known as the Broad Engineer Programme.
To develop aviation weapons systems spanning 14 technology areas and maintaining the necessary expertise throughout product life cycles, a professional development stairway is employed. All engineers are on one of the steps of this stairway.
The figure shows the Saab professional development stairway.
The professional development stairway is intended to ensure the availability of appropriate engineering resources in the future, both when it comes to specific skills and staff numbers. The professional development stairway takes consideration to which skills are required to develop Saab's products.
To meet the demands from the market and customers for continuously improved and cost-effective products, as well as to assure capabilities for complying with airworthiness requirements, there are specialist roles within the framework of the professional development stairway for ensuring especially important skills.
Work with the professional development stairway involves measurement of whether there is balance between the various levels, which enables corrective actions to be taken should an imbalance occur.
This permits skills provision to be controlled, such as when several employees with skills on a specific level are required for certain technology areas or if skills-enhancing actions are necessary for other technology areas. In this way, Saab can attain sustainability in the composition of its engineering teams so as to assure full product development capabilities. Measurement also produces input data for recruiting and allocation of resources.
As a technical leader, one must be able to convey approaches related to how good technical solutions are attained. Development as a mentor for engineers in the development organisation is included in the training of technical managers.
Training in mentoring must be conducted on a continuous basis. This is essential for constant transfer of experience and expertise. It is important to convey how the capabilities for growth and technical maturity are developed throughout the value stream in developing a product. This value stream passes through the 14 technology areas and affects all activities conducted in the development, production and testing organisations.
To be able to realise advanced product development, basic work with architecture is required throughout the development process and on all system levels. Good development tools are also needed in a secure IT infrastructure. The development methodology and the practical application of this are necessary in attaining efficiency throughout the value stream.
The technical leaders must be able to determine what is most important in complying with the authorities’ regulations for airworthy products. Saab must be able to deliver an effective aviation materiel system to the customer. The entire aviation materiel system is based on knowledge of the customer's needs for operational capability, which are then transformed into various types of technological solutions in order to build a product for military use.
Regardless of the layer the development organisation is working on, the same fundamental aspects influence development and individual skills, and the availability of well-written processes and functioning IT tools.
Skilled and committed employees who drive development forward through their knowledge and dedication are essential.
The primary configuration of the aviation materiel system is shown in the figure.
Development of a materiel system can be seen as a pyramid composed of several layers. Development in the layers can be conducted in parallel, but certain fundamental conditions must be in place before all conditions for the next level are completed.
There is a responsibility role for product architecture design, and this role defines a long-term, sustainable design for the product and ensures that the design is retained.
Development engineers, as well as a number of other roles in the line organisation, are responsible for practical development and realising the technical capabilities based on the fundamental architecture of the product.
In work with design, certain general requirements must be considered.
A multitude of processes, methods and development tools, as well as an advanced IT environment, are required to create a complete aviation materiel system.
A tactical loop is a description of the customer’s needs in performing operative missions. To develop a tactical loop, many development and verification tools are needed. Some of these are especially important and used in the various phases of producing an aviation materiel system.
Examples of such tools are:
For effective development, there are processes and procedural descriptions that detail how work is to be conducted. Some of the processes are used to define system requirements and to transform these requirements into an effective system design. The processes used in development address and describe the life cycle of a complete system or product.
The line organisation is the proprietor of the development methodology for creating products, and has a life cycle analysis responsibility for administration and development of the processes, methods and IT tools, as well as of the IT infrastructure needed for the entire value stream. The line organisation is also responsible for skills development and providing the necessary resources for the product projects that conduct development work.
When developing highly complex products, it is advantageous to use a model to describe how this is to be conducted.
The aviation industry utilises a model for system development called the V-model.
This model ensures that all customer requirements have been addressed and that they are implemented and fulfilled. In this model, the requirements that have been defined together with the customer can be handled throughout the value stream that is encompassed by work with development. Requirements can also stem from concept studies conducted without customer participation.
A V-model is illustrated in the figure. The left side of the V-model reflects the various types of requirement documents. Documentation that the product requirements have been fulfilled is on the right side of the V.
The left side of the figure describes the development steps, and the right side, the product verification and validation steps. In other words, the left side describes design development, while the right side describes assurance that the resulting design is correct.
Product development is conducted through work with concepts and design, as well as construction of products during the development phase.
Two fundamentally important reviews are performed during these phases. A preliminary design review (PDR) is performed first. This is followed by a critical design review (CDR). This review establishes the design solution as approved by the customer. The CDR document is normally approved by the customer after review.
Steps for design development
Verification and validation are described on the right side of the V-model. The basis for this work is the design solution approved by the customer. Through verification and validation, this design solution results in a product in compliance with the requirement specification and approved for delivery by the customer.
Steps for assuring correct design
The verification and validation phases result in various status declarations of the included systems. These documents are summarised in system reports (DDP).
System reports are used as a basis for decisions on initiating flight testing. Validation is constituted by collaboration with the customer in order to perform ground and flight testing. This testing is directly related to the operative requirements for the complete delivery.
There are a number of tools in the V-model used for complete development of an aviation materiel system. Examples of these are CAD tools for fuselage development and installation, software development environments for writing and verifying software, as well as a general IT infrastructure for these development environments.
What is unique with Saab is that the company is able to work with all aspects of development, production and testing of complex military products with relatively few employees and with short lead times in comparison to others in the industry. Moreover, the largest portion of development is performed at the same geographical location. The employees’ know-how and capabilities in the 14 technological areas are characterised by a broad generalist level, complemented with advanced specialist expertise.
In carrying out day-to-day duties, how can an engineer resolve challenging technical issues, increase personal efficiency, advance on the professional development stairway, serve as an example to others, and in many cases, also act as a mentor?
To manage this, solid support is necessary from management on all levels.
This requires constant focus on active experience exchange through continuous application of the lessons learned principle. Coaching and active mentoring are also good ways of encouraging employees to challenge and improve their capabilities, and to reach new levels on the professional development stairway.
Mentoring is essential in supporting engineers in their work. A mentor must be able to translate and interpret all processes and documents so that practical engineering activities are efficient, and also create an innovative climate.
Besides essential domain skills, development is also based on continuously emphasising the importance of a learning organisation by motivating and establishing understanding, and by providing mandates to individuals.
Having comprehensive capabilities for developing military fighter aircraft is essential for Saab. These capabilities are built on the authorities having given Saab full responsibility and the requisite permits for developing and producing an aviation materiel system and a military aircraft.
Saab has succeeded both in making its organisation more efficient and implementing entirely new working procedures that provide radical improvements in lead times, quality and efficiency, as well as in developing innovative solutions in systems and products.
An important question that must be asked in working with long-term skills strategy is: What are the requirements for technical leadership and which challenges will be encountered in the future? And the answer?
Technically challenging tasks require leadership skills, technical brilliance, a financial approach and understanding of the customer’s needs and requirements. To be world leading in the industry, focused skills and capability initiatives are necessary.
The following challenges illustrate three different assignment types and levels that a long-term skills strategy must be able to deal with.
Integrating a new technology for communicating externally with other platforms requires, besides very deep insight into radio wave propagation, knowledge of which parts of the aircraft and the materiel system that must be changed.
Knowledge must also be obtained for gaining credibility as to how the technical solution will be built up into a functioning whole. This involves both technical and operative performance, and not the least, obtaining the trust of the customer that the technical solution will satisfy the set requirements. The latter is a very important task for the technical managers.
Modifying a complete aircraft requires considerable knowledge of how several technical disciplines are integrated. This requires knowledge of the activities of the majority of the technological areas, but above all, good awareness of which technical managers are in charge of each technological area.
Achieving this requires very good contacts and considerable trust on the part of the customer and the authorities. The latter is mandatory at this level.
Besides the diversity of knowledge within the various technological areas for aircraft development, it is also necessary with knowledge of the approximately ten other products and technological areas that are included in the aviation materiel system, as well as knowledge of the related needs and integration challenges. Here as well, good contacts and the trust of the customer, authorities and internally within the entire organisation is mandatory.