Low-cost carriers are opening up new markets for providers of airline flight training and Canadian company CAE has been swift to move into the sector.
CAE and its joint venture partner Airbus yesterday announced a major wet-lease training contract with US low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines to provide all of Frontier's flightcrew training.
Training will be done at CAE's new Denver, Colorado flight training centre that it opened last year with anchor tenants Frontier, which is based in Denver, and US regional Air Wisconsin.
The four-bay centre has three CAE full-flight simulators installed - an Airbus A320 and two Bombardier CRJ200/700s - and a third CRJ200/700 FFS to complete the centre is planned.
Gary Scott, CAE group president, civil simulation and training, says the Frontier deal, which falls hot on the heels of a CAE/Airbus contract win to provide US low-cost carrier JetBlue flight training for its A320 crews, is proof positive of the joint venture's success. "It could not be going better. It was a match made in heaven," says Scott.
"We have been working well to improve the training solution offering. For example, Airbus recently announced it would include our Simfinity product in their curriculum on the A320s and A330s.
"We have also had success with our customers, like JetBlue and now Frontier. The difference between what we are doing for those customers is that JetBlue is using our training products while with Frontier we will provide all of the training. That shows the sort of flexibility we can offer customers."
Scott says that despite the industry downturn, he anticipates CAE taking orders for between 10 and 14 FFSs this year, similar to 2002. "Many airlines are re-doing their fleets and moving towards smaller regional aircraft, so that helps the equipment market."
But CAE is interested in more than just simulator equipment sales as it now owns and operates a large and growing global network of flight training centres. The company currently has 91 FFSs at 20 centres around the world.
"We added 30 simulators last year, which was a 50% increase and tremendous growth. I think we will see another dozen or so this year," says Scott.
"There may also be more centres over the next 12 months or so."
CAE has also submitted its bid to joint venture partner Airbus to provide the first A380 FFS. Scott says a decision on that key contract could come by the end of June.
"We like to be the first simulator manufacturer on new aircraft programmes," says Scott. Airbus had made clear that its equipment requirements had to go to competitive tender. "We are fine with that," says Scott. "We will put our best foot forward."
Source: Flight Daily News