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Increasing air travel means a need for more airliners, and also more pilots. These pilots have to be trained – as part of ongoing assessments, for new types, or to become flightcrew in the first place. CAE is one of those benefiting from the surge in people who want to fly. Its unusual business model means the Canadian company accesses the market several ways; it manufacturers full-flight simulators that it operates in its own centres or sells to third parties, as well as offering a range of training from ab initio upwards.

“We’ve just closed our 2016 fiscal year and we’ve had a good year from many perspectives,” says Nick Leontidis, group president, civil aviation training solutions at the Montreal-based training provider. “From an overall order intake, we had a record year, with sales of 53 full-flight simulators. We’ve seen the North American market come back and Asia continuing very strongly. In addition, we deployed seven full-flight simulators in our own network.” CAE has some 50 such centres, several of them run as joint ventures.

The downturn in aviation after 9/11 saw thousands of pilots, particularly in North America and Europe, lose their jobs. And as the industry restructured, consolidated and battled high fuel prices throughout much of that decade, recruitment of new pilots was very low. However, the explosion of low-cost airlines, rapid expansion of air travel in Asia and the Middle East, and the recovery of the North American market has changed that, and recruiting and training cadet pilots is very much back in fashion.

“The most satisfying part is that we are seeing a lot more business come from demand for new pilots,” says Leontidis. “At the moment, we have about 1,000 people in our academies, all destined for airlines. About half of them are sponsored by airlines and the rest are self-sponsored.” Anticipating the revival in cadet schemes and self-funding would-be airline pilots, CAE bought UK-based Oxford Aviation Academy in 2012 at the same time as setting up its own centres, and it now has eight facilities: three in Europe, two in Australia, two in India and one in the USA.

Recent wins for CAE include:

  • IndiGo: the Indian low-cost carrier signed a contract with CAE to train 200 individuals from ab initio to qualification as airline pilots. It has already trained 250 cadets for the airline.
  • CityJet: CAE will train 10 cadets later this year in Oxford and Phoenix for the Irish regional.
  • Shenzhen Airlines: the Chinese carrier has extended a programme with CAE to bring numbers of trained cadets to more than 100. The scheme has been running for two years.
  • Norwegian Airlines: in partnership with OSM Aviation, 20 Oxford Aviation Academy graduates will become first officers with Norwegian from this autumn.

On emerging platforms, CAE has just sold its first Boeing 737 Max simulators to Lion Air and Air Canada. For the Bombardier CSeries it has its Flight Training Alliance joint venture with Lufthansa Flight Training. Its first simulator should go into service in the third quarter, says Leontidis. A second simulator has been delivered to CS100 launch operator Swiss and another to Bombardier. CAE has also been selected as global training partner for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, with the first simulator shortly to be operational in Japan, and a second to follow at an as-yet-unannounced site in the USA.

On the business aviation side, CAE has qualified its first Gulfstream G650 Level D full-flight simulator at its jointly run facility with Emirates in Dubai. It has also expanded its training for Embraer Phenom 100 and 300 pilots and maintenance technicians at its Amsterdam training centre. A full-flight simulator, equipped with a Garmin Prodigy Touch avionics system, will be ready for training in the first quarter of 2018. Upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT) is another growing area for CAE and the company has introduced a programme specifically for business jet pilots.

In terms of technology, CAE introduced its latest Level D full-flight simulator, the 7000XR, two years ago, and the type now accounts for the vast majority of sales, says Leontidis.

Source: Flight Daily News