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An Insider’s Outlook: September October 2010

WINGS recently sat down with Jeff Roberts, group president of Civil Simulation Products, Training and Services at CAE Inc. Topics of discussion included business opportunities with the looming pilot shortage, the Multi-crew pilot licence, and the direction of CAE Inc.


September 27, 2010
By Frederick K. Larkin

Topics

WINGS recently sat down with Jeff Roberts, group president of Civil Simulation Products, Training and Services at CAE Inc. Topics of discussion included business opportunities with the looming pilot shortage, the Multi-crew pilot licence, and the direction of CAE Inc.

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Q| Given the looming global shortage of commercial pilots, what opportunities do you foresee for CAE?

A| The expected shortage of pilots to fly commercial aircraft will certainly increase customer demand for enhancing safety and efficiency, and those are the essence of what CAE provides. We see continued opportunities for more refined training methods, more innovative simulation equipment and other training tools, and more streamlined training operations management based on our extensive global experience. CAE’s presence in every major region means customers can train closer to home, receiving the same world-class training and customer support services while saving travel time and cost.

Q| What is being done by governments and private industry to encourage flying as a career for young people?

A| Much of the encouragement is in regions of the world such as Asia where growth is expected to be the highest and the shortage of aviation professionals the most acute. Certainly airlines are developing innovative approaches for developing a steady stream of qualified pilots. Examples of these include AirAsia as sponsoring airline for the CAE MPL (Multi-crew Pilot Licence) beta program and China Southern Airlines in joint ventures with CAE for ab initio training and type rating training. One example of government encouragement of flying as a career is India. The Airports Authority of India is CAE’s joint venture partner for the CAE Global Academy in Gondia. CAE also manages the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi in Rae Bareli, India on behalf of the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Q| What is the global status of the Multi-crew Pilot Licence (MPL) certification process today and where do you see it being in a decade?

A| At latest count, I understand there are nearly two dozen countries with MPL-related regulations. Our expectation is that competency-based training programs will continue to gain favour with airlines and regulatory authorities. MPL is an option for airline customers, designed specifically to prepare cadets to become airlines pilots. MPL programs will provide a streamlined, accelerated alternative for meeting some of the demand for qualified pilots as global airline industry growth accelerates and the forecasted pilot shortage becomes reality.

The CAE MPL beta program, that was announced in February, is currently transitioning from the basic and core phases at Moncton Flight College, a member of the CAE Global Academy network in New Brunswick. The cadets will work through the intermediate phase over the next few months in Dallas, Texas, before completing the CAE MPL program advanced phase at our training centre in Toronto. The CAE MPL is the first multi-crew pilot licence program under the auspices of a performance-based regulatory structure developed by Transport Canada. Upon graduation next spring, the cadets will receive a Canadian Multi-crew Pilot Licence, signifying that the bearer has demonstrated the knowledge, skill and attitudinal competencies to perform the duties of a co-pilot of a multi-engine, turbine-powered, pressurized airplane, that is certified to be operated by two or more pilots, flown under either VFR or IFR conditions. In the case of the CAE MPL beta program, cadets will graduate prepared for Initial Operating Experience (IOE) and line operations as A320-qualified First Officers for AirAsia, the sponsoring airline of the beta program.

Q| How large is the current CAE Global Academy network and will it be expanded over the next decade? 

A| The CAE Global Academy is the largest network of ab initio flight schools. We currently have 11 schools at nine locations in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia with a capacity of 1,800 cadets per year. We expect to continue to grow that capacity by expanding some of the current schools and by adding more schools to the network as the right opportunities arise. The newest member of the network is the China Southern West Australia Flying College in Perth, Western Australia. CAE entered into a joint venture with China Southern Airlines in June. Graduates from the school in Perth will go on to earn their aircraft type ratings at the Zhuhai Flight Training Centre, another joint venture between China Southern and CAE at Zhuhai in China’s Guandong province.