• Joe Breitfeller

Embraer Founder Ozires Silva Wins Prestigious Daniel Guggenheim Medal

Mr. Silva joins an elite group of recipients of the Daniel Guggenheim Medal, one of the world’s premier aeronautical engineering awards, previously awarded to Bill Boeing, Lawrence Bell, Leroy Grumman, Igor Sikorsky, Charles Lindbergh, James McDonnell and Marcel Dassault.


In September 2017, Ozires Silva (Right), is Honored With a Tribute on an Embraer E190-E2 - Courtesy Embraer

On Friday (February 19, 2021), Embraer announced that one of the company’s founders, Ozires Silva, has been awarded the prestigious Daniel Guggenheim Medal, one of the world’s premier awards for aeronautical engineering. The award was announced on Thursday, February 18, 2021, in a statement from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Previous recipients of the exclusive award include aviation pioneers such as William E. Boeing, Lawrence D. Bell, Leroy R. Grumman, Igor Sikorsky, Charles Lindbergh, James S. McDonnell and Marcel Dassault, among other aeronautics luminaries.


The Daniel Guggenheim Medal was established in March 1928 when Harry F. Guggenheim, President of the Daniel Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics presented $15,000 to the Medal Fund “the income from which is to be used for the purpose of awarding, from time to time, medals to be known as ‘The Daniel Guggenheim Medal,’ in recognition of notable achievements in the advancement of aeronautics, in accordance with the provisions of the by-laws of that corporation.” The administration of the award was transferred to AIAA in 1999 and is now jointly sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), SAE International (originally the Society of Automotive Engineers), and the Vertical Flight Society (originally the American Helicopter Society).


In Friday’s announcement, Embraer’s President and CEO, Francisco Gomes Neto, said,


“This distinguished recognition to Ozires Silva reflects his innovative and exceptional contributions to aviation. His passion, courage, and leadership paved the way for Embraer to expand in ways that few imagined, transforming regional aviation, and leading our company to be admired globally. It is an honor and a great privilege for me and all my colleagues at Embraer to be inspired every day by his pioneering vision and innovative spirit.”


Ozires Silva was born on January 8, 1931 in Bauru, São Paulo Brazil. An aviation enthusiast from the beginning, as a child he visited the local aero club and wondered why there were only foreign aircraft, especially considering the Brazilian legacy of Brazilian aviation pioneer Santos Dumont. Mr. Silva’s aviation career began in 1948 when he joined the Air Force Preparatory School, which was linked to the Brazilian Air Force (FAB). After four years, he received his pilot’s license and began his career as a FAB pilot, serving in the 1st and 2nd Transport Group in Belém, Para until 1955, then joining National Air Mail. In 1958, during a trip to Rio de Janeiro for technical pilot recertification, he learned that the Technical Institute of Aeronautics was offering aeronautical engineering degrees in Brazil. Silva enrolled in 1959 and received his degree at age 31 in 1962.


After graduating, Mr Silva went on to lead the Department of Aircraft at the Institute of research and Development, which was linked to the technical Center of Aeronautics. While working directly with Brazilian Air Force Aircraft, he felt a growing desire to create an aircraft in Brazil, which ultimately led to the 1965 development of the IPD-6504, a regional aircraft for nine to 16 passengers, which ultimately became the Bandeirante. During the development of the aircraft, he spent a year abroad, earing a master’s degree from the California Institute of Technology. Returning to Brazil in 1966, he led the production of the Bandeirante, which made its inaugural flight on October 22, 1968. The video below, courtesy of Embraer, marks the 50th anniversary of the Bandeirante’s inaugural flight in October 2018.



In a stroke of good fortune, in 1969 a storm forced Brazil’s President, Arthur da Costa e Silva, to divert to São José dos Campos, where he was received by Ozires Silva. Silva used the occasion to convince the President that the establishment of a mixed economy company would facilitate the establishment of a Brazilian aircraft manufacturer. Silva’s dream of a national aircraft manufacturer came to fruition on August 19, 1969, with Decree 770, establishing the creation of Embraer to manufacture 80 Bandeirante’s.



Ozires Silva was named the company’s first Superintendent Director, a position he held until 1986, when he was asked to lead Petrobras by Brazilian President, José Sarney. During his tenure, the company achieved key milestones, including the creation of the Embraer 120 Brasilia, the company’s first pressurized aircraft, the Tucano, a training aircraft and the Ipanema, an agricultural aircraft. With the company facing serious financial issues, Silva rejoined Embraer in 1991 and oversaw the company’s privatization, which was finalized on December 7, 1994. After management changes at Embraer, he joined Varig in 2000, where he served as President until 2002. Mr Silva is the author of six books and has become an active voice in Brazil for education.



Source(s): Embraer, AIAA