By Gabriel Araujo and Rodrigo Viga Gaier
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Airbus SE hopes to propose partnerships with Brzil's Embraer SA in defense and space in the medium term, its regional executive overseeing those areas told Reuters, saying the two planemakers might complement each other in some ways.
Any deal remains distant as negotiations have yet to start, Airbus' head of defense and space in Latin America, Victor De La Vela, said in an interview at the LAAD defense and security exhibition in Rio de Janeiro, but the France-based company does expect to open talks in the future.
"One of the goals I have in the medium term is to sit down with Embraer to study areas of collaboration that could benefit both companies and see if we could cooperate," De La Vela said on Thursday.
Embraer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"If we can find a program satisfying both parties, I think that would be very positive, and we are open for that to happen."
Airbus' main rival, U.S.-based Boeing Co, in 2020 ditched a previous agreement to buy the Brazilian company's commercial aviation business that would also have extended into supporting Embraer's flagship military cargo aircraft, the KC-390.
Airbus' defense portfolio includes the A400M and the C295, which are respectively larger and smaller than Embraer's KC-390. The Brazilian company also sells the Super Tucano, a light attack aircraft.
De La Vela said he sees potential collaborations emerging in areas such as unmanned aircraft and space technologies, including for new products, adding that he would like to hear from Embraer before elaborating. Satellites and radars are part of their portfolios.
Brazil's Air Force operates aircraft manufactured by both companies, including the KC-390 and the A330, which is set to be converted into its MRTT tanker version in the country.
De La Vela said Airbus expects the Brazilian MRTTs to open the Latin American market for the aircraft, noting talks with four other undisclosed countries in the region were underway.
Airbus is also in preliminary discussions with Brazil on potential satellite service purchases, he added, saying they could help monitor deforestation and illegal activities in the Amazon.
(Reporting by Gabriel Araujo and Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Editing by Bill Berkrot)