Leading with Safety at SAAB

Nicola Tims
November 16, 2022

Keeping people and our society safe is a basic human right, and as Saab sees it - fundamental. Since their inception in 1937, they have strived to achieve this through their services and world-leading products, built on complex systems involving extensive research and development. With operations on every continent, their global presence is felt, and continually work towards adapting and improving new technologies to meet the ever changing needs of customers.

We spoke with Anders Bergstrand, Senior Flight Test Engineer at Saab, about his experience to date, passion for aviation, and day-to-day life within the industry as well as being part of the Saab team.

SAAB Firefighter Air Tractor

Passion from the beginning

Anders had a keen interest in aviation since he was young, especially in the aircraft and the technology itself. He got his start with Saab as a trainee 35 years ago, and after a year in the role, Anders was presented with the opportunity to select where he would like to steer his career - he chose to work in the flight test department of Saab’s civil aircraft, and has been operating within the team sector ever since!

Anders tells us about how much variety he has in a typical work day - it’s challenging, which is what he likes, because he has to be adaptable to change. “Of course we have to plan [flights] depending on the weather and other conditions,” he notes, “as well as do some problem solving with customers and provide the technical assistance they need.”

Not only does he work on the ground, but he also gets to fly the aircraft as well.

“The most enjoyable part of what I do is conducting ‘strange’ flight tests, because it’s not ‘normal’ flying - we look for conditions like strong crosswinds or icing for example. Sometimes we need to go somewhere where it is hot, and sometimes we are looking for the cold below -35ºC on the ground.”

With the requirement of these conditions often found outside of the region, Anders enjoys venturing abroad, and notes “I get to meet some great people from different countries and cultures outside of Sweden!”

It’s a human right to feel safe.

Saab was founded on 2 April, 1937, with its original intent to develop and manufacture combat aircraft. Throughout history, they have acquired companies that were industry-leading at the time, to work towards keeping people and our society safe.

Fast forward to today, and their view on this has not changed. Not only is safety a priority for their customers, Saab also implements tools to help give assurance to their own team members.

Their eye for global leaders in the market has helped keep them at the forefront of what they do, and this has also presented them with opportunities to work alongside them, such as Spidertracks. “We helped Spidertracks with doing EMI testing in the laboratory to make sure it was airworthy.”

Ever since the Spider 3’s entrance to market, they have been long-time customers and supporters of Spidertracks.

“The Spider was the most advanced system [in the market], it still is actually.”

The team now utilises Spider X hardware to assist teams with aerial firefighting. “[The aircraft] are not always in the same country,” says Anders, “so it’s great to have a device that we can communicate with the crew abroad during flight, regardless of where they are in the world.”

Anders shares his own thoughts on safety with us.

“I think it’s important to have an open mind when it comes to flight safety, especially for flight tests. Within different business cultures, we need to have an open mind so that anyone can say ‘stop. We are not going to fly today’. It could be me, it could be pilots, it could be mechanics - it could be anyone that’s not feeling comfortable with the flight. Also, being an Accident Investigator, I have read too many accident reports where the probable cause could be traced back to keeping the budget, or trying to make up for delays in the programme.
I think if you can have an open mind all the way to management like we are where anyone can say ‘Stop. We are not going to fly today. We will look at a later date.’ - just to be safe - that’s a way to keep flight safety at the highest possible level.”

Check out this video where the Saab Aerial Firefighting team combatted fires in Greece.

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