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Military


Brazil - Aviation Industry

Embraer is today one of the largest aerospace companies in the world, and a source of pride for Brazilians. With more than 40 years of history and seeing many challenges being overcome, such as the litmus test of privatization and restructuring in 1994, Embraer is made up of a global base of customers and key partners of international repute. Today the company is helping to bring the world closer together through aviation by shortening the distances between people and offering the most modern technology, versatility, and comfort in aircraft.

Despite this success, Embraer does not have the merit of starting aircraft production in the country. Actually, the opposite is true. When it was created in 1969, it was benefited from a long history of accomplishments of many Brazilians who since the beginning of the 20th century launched out on a true adventure of designing and building airplanes here in Brazil. Although they did not reach a level of development that would guarantee survival, they had the merit to bequeath to Embraer this entrepreneurial spirit. Thereafter, a combination of several social, political, scientific, and technological factors made it possible for Embraer to move forward with this dream of the pioneers of the Brazilian aeronautics industry, taking it to levels that probably they themselves never imagined.

With the approach of World War II (1939-1945), the aeronautical policy implemented by Vargas was gaining nationalist causes under the influence of the new geopolitical, strategic, and technological context. Airplanes had already been used as instruments of attack and defense during World War I (1914-1918), stimulating the development of technologies and military doctrines about the importance of the Air Force. But the use of aviation in a systematic way in fighting was only consolidated in World War II when military aviation was fundamental in the strategies of attack and defense both among the Allies as well as the countries that made up the Axis.

In Brazil, the creation of the Ministry of Aeronautics in 1941 would be a result from this new context. The ruling elite of the New State took advantage of the dispute between Germany and the United States for Brazil to join the war so they could strengthen its military power in the South Atlantic. Among those who defended the alignment of Brazil with the Allies and those who defended the Axis, Vargas ended up opting to join the Americans in exchange for financing the construction of Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN) in Volta Redonda (RJ). The Brazilian counterpart would be to allow the installation of several U.S. military bases on national territory in Amapá, Pará, Maranhão, Pernambuco, and Rio Grande do Norte. The largest and most important base to be set up was in Natal, which reached 60,000 men.

In addition to the political-economic and strategic aspects that aviation represented during the Vargas Era, certainly the greatest stimulus to the sector at this time was directly related to the fact that Vargas was a great aviation enthusiast. Since 1929 when he was aboard the first flight of the first airplane to fly commercially in Brazil—the Atlantic seaplane, then belonging to the Condor Syndicate—he became an advocate of using aircraft as a means of transportation. The gaucho Vargas would take four days to go by ship from Porto Alegre to the federal capital at the time, Rio de Janeiro, while by plane it was a trip of only eight hours. Later that year, when he went to Rio to read his platform as presidential candidate, he caused a lot of talk when he flew over the city aboard the Atlantic.

Regarding the aviation industry, since the Provisional Government established in 1930, Vargas also gave clear signs of willingness to stimulate the industry. That year the Study Commission for Installing an Aircraft Factory (CEIFA) was created, of which the engineer César Grillo and the military personnel Antonio Guedes Muniz and Vitor de Carvalho were a part. Starting activities in 1932, the Commission had the intent of, as its name implies, looking into the possibility of aircraft production in the country and also to use domestic raw materials as well as organize a bid for setting up the factory.

After that Vargas was the main highlight in virtually all major events related to aviation. He visited factories, encouraged sending technicians for specialization overseas, personally inspected the construction work at airports such as Santos Dumont in Rio de Janeiro, and attended the graduation ceremonies of pilots and the presentation of aircraft often resorting to bold gestures as a way to spread the use of the plane. In 1931, for example, during the ceremony for presenting the M-5 prototype plane designed by Lt. Antonio Guedes Muniz that took place during the ceremony of the 12th year since the founding of the Military Aviation School, Vargas made a short flight on board the aircraft in order to show complete confidence in Brazil's technical capacity. The repercussion of this bold initiative put Guedes Muniz in the limelight and caused Vargas to put the military in contact with industrialist Henrique Lage who after previous unsuccessful experiences, eventually resumed the production of aircraft, creating the National Air Navigation Company in 1935.

Early in the Vargas government, in 1931, he created the National Postal Service and the Department of Civil Aviation (DAC) with headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, which at the time was directly subordinated to the Ministry of Roads and Public Works that until then was the only body responsible for dealing with issues related to aviation. Later that decade the Naval-Air Postal Service and the Brazilian Air Code were respectively created in 1934 and 1938.

With the approach of World War II (1939-1945), the aeronautical policy implemented by Vargas was gaining nationalist causes under the influence of the new geopolitical, strategic, and technological context. Airplanes had already been used as instruments of attack and defense during World War I (1914-1918), stimulating the development of technologies and military doctrines about the importance of the Air Force. But the use of aviation in a systematic way in fighting was only consolidated in World War II when military aviation was fundamental in the strategies of attack and defense both among the Allies as well as the countries that made up the Axis.

In Brazil, the creation of the Ministry of Aeronautics in 1941 would be a result from this new context. The ruling elite of the New State took advantage of the dispute between Germany and the United States for Brazil to join the war so they could strengthen its military power in the South Atlantic. Among those who defended the alignment of Brazil with the Allies and those who defended the Axis, Vargas ended up opting to join the Americans in exchange for financing the construction of Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN) in Volta Redonda (RJ). The Brazilian counterpart would be to allow the installation of several U.S. military bases on national territory in Amapá, Pará, Maranhão, Pernambuco, and Rio Grande do Norte. The largest and most important base to be set up was in Natal, which reached 60,000 men.

In August 1945 a general plan was laid out for the future organization of the Technical Center of the Ministry of Aeronautics. The plan stated that the Technical Center would consist of two coordinated scientific institutes, but technically autonomous—one for higher technical education, the Aeronautical Institute of Technology (ITA), and the other focused on research and support to the aircraft construction industry, with military aviation and commercial aviation, the Institute for Research and Development (IPD). From ITA would gradually arise the human resources and services of the other institute as the engineers would go graduating. Because of this, ITA began its activities in 1950, while IPD in 1953.

Thus emerged the idea of creating an aeronautics engineering school and an aeronautics technology research center, which would be accomplished with the founding of ITA – Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica (Aeronautical Institute of Technology) in 1950, and CTA – Centro Técnico de Aeronáutica (Aeronautical Technical Center – currently called the General Air & Space Technology Command) in 1953, both in São José dos Campos (state of São Paulo).

CTA drove another development cycle centered in the region of São Jose dos Campos. Avibras, for example, was created in 1961, and though its activities began making small aircraft, it would become known for producing rockets and missiles. The following year gave rise to Aerotec that became known for the development of the aircraft Uirapuru and Tangará.

When Vargas returned to occupy the presidency in 1951, he found the aviation industry in crisis. The vast majority of aircraft factories had closed and many air transportation companies that had experienced a boom period after the war had gone bankrupt or merged with foreign companies. Getúlio's attention at this time would turn to give more of an emphasis to rearrange the commercial airline industry, leaving to the military the task of seeking solutions for the issue of the aviation industry.




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Page last modified: 16-09-2013 19:35:00 ZULU