Boeing and Embraer are close again, but this time only at their addresses. The US aerospace giant opened its engineering and technology center on Tuesday in São José dos Campos, Brazil, the city where the Brazilian manufacturer’s headquarters are located.
The investment in Brazil comes after Boeing co-opted several employees from Brazilian aerospace companies, including Embraer itself, with attractive offers.
The hires prompted protests from Brazilian organizations that tried to stop the loss of “brains” to the North American company.
According to Boeing, the new facilities will house around 500 company engineers in Brazil who will work together with 14 other similar centers around the world.
The Boeing subsidiary will be dedicated to developing cutting-edge technology and innovation projects, the company explained.
Taking advantage of the favorable conditions in the region, which is focused on the aerospace industry, Boeing also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Technological Cooperation with the government of the state of São Paulo, in addition to extending the partnership with Unicamp university, which researches the production of sustainable fuel of aviation.
“Boeing’s longstanding partnership with Brazil dates back more than 90 years, and during that time, we have collaborated with the Brazilian aerospace industry and community to tap into the incredible technical abilities and problem-solving skills of Brazilian engineers,” said Lynne Hopper, vice president of Boeing Engineering, Strategy and Operations. “Their expertise strengthens our commitment to engineering excellence and positions us to tackle the next generation of challenges in our industry.”
Finally, Boeing announced its first internship program aimed at engineering students, which will take place from 2024.
Joint venture with Embraer abandoned
The expansion of Boeing’s activities in Brazil comes after the failure of a joint venture launched with Embraer in July 2018 that provided for the creation of “Boeing Brasil Commercial”, a company that would take over the Brazilian company’s commercial aircraft division.
To this end, Boeing promised to pay US$4.2 billion for 80% of the new company, with the remainder in the hands of Embraer. The partnership was a response to Airbus’ acquisition of Bombardier’s CSeries jet family.
However, after Embraer separated the commercial division and consumed time and money on the project, Boeing decided to abandon the joint venture in April 2020, claiming that the Brazilian partner had failed to meet the requirements of the agreement.
Embraer denied the fact and the two are in a litigation process in the US seeking compensation. At the time, the American manufacturer was going through an unprecedented crisis caused by the safety problems of the 737 MAX and leaving the scene was associated with the impossibility of assuming its part of the agreement.
For many analysts, Embraer’s greatest asset would not be its commercial jets, but rather its engineers, younger and more innovative than Boeing employees in the US.
The inauguration of the new engineering center in the birthplace of Embraer reinforces this argument.