How CAE Went From Building Machines To Building People
Development and Innovation One Canadian company has gone from manufacturing simulators to training over 120,000 pilots, from a multitude of nations, each year.
stablished in 1947, CAE’s bread and butter was the manufacturing of flight simulators. Since then it expanded to over 35 countries, and provided simulated training to both civil and military aviation. In the past few years, however, CAE has made the leap from simulation-based training to providing comprehensive and fully integrated training systems that include live flying training. The best example of this is here in Canada at the NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) program.
From the chair to the air
“Our objective is to be recognized globally as a training systems integrator,” says Gene Colabatisto, CAE’s Group President, Defence and Security. “To be that, you need to deliver the full training enterprise: academic, simulator training, and live training. We’ve always been pretty capable and known for providing the classroom and simulation-based training in particular, but the NFTC program, where we train Canada’s future military pilots, has brought us the expertise, experience, and capability for delivering and supporting live flying training.”
When training the defence sector, CAE doesn’t just teach individual pilots either: It trains entire aircraft crews, as well as incorporating multiple crews to prepare for real-life missions. “What people forget is that a defence crew is comprised of a lot of people, not just the pilots,” says Colabatistto. “For example, the C-130 has loadmasters, the CP-140 has a whole team of sensor operators and airborne tactics officers; and, it’s critical that the entire crew trains and prepares as a team. On top of crew mission training, we can also link together different training platforms to provide distributed mission training. So, you might have Chinook crews in Petawawa, ON networked with CH-146 Griffon crews in Gagetown, NB training in what we call a common synthetic environment. If you’re going on a mission, you never do it alone and it will always be a joint effort. We provide the training systems to help military forces train just like they will operate in theatre.”
Despite being a global company CAE still sees itself as a truly Canadian company and a big player in terms of the Canadian economy. “We’re a tremendously important contributor to Canada’s economy. We have about 8,000 people worldwide and nearly half of them are in Canada. So, we’re a very global company, but Canada is still our home market. It’s where both our headquarters and our primary manufacturing facility are. The aerospace industry is big part of Canada’s economy and we — in turn — are a big part of that industry.”