Farnborough Air Show

CAE nets simulator deals

 - November 16, 2006, 11:25 AM

Canadian training equipment and services provider CAE, which is seeking ways to apply its simulation and modeling expertise in new areas, will announce orders worth almost $35 million from customers in India, South America and Europe.

Indian low-cost carrier Air Deccan has ordered an Airbus A320 full-flight simulator, related integrated procedures trainer and up to five years of simulator maintenance and support–together valued at $17.5 million (including buyer-furnished equipment). This is the eighth CAE simulator ordered in the past four months.

The A320 unit, which features CAE’s Tropos II enhanced visual system, will be delivered in mid-2007 to Air Deccan’s new Bangalore training center, where it will join a CAE-built ATR 72-500 unit provided by Avions de Transport Regional.  

In South America, Gol Airlines of Brazil has booked five years’ Boeing 737 training at CAE’s São Paulo training center. With another center at Santiago, Chile, CAE has eight simulators on the continent. Recent business in Europe, where CAE operates 30 civil simulators, includes training contracts from City Star Airlines and White Eagle Aviation.

By next March 31, Brown expects CAE to have won orders for at least a further 13 civil simulators, reflecting required capacity to serve expanding fleets as new-aircraft delivery rates rise following recent record orders. Last month, the executive told CAE shareholders that about 75 percent of expected civil simulator revenue for the year from next April 1 was covered by order backlog.

A current question for CAE is how to identify new simulation and modeling applications, group president for civil training and services and innovation Jeff Roberts told Aviation International News. The company wants to use its experience in additional aerospace and defense applications and in other areas.

CAE president Robert Brown has appointed Roberts to lead a team considering potential applications in industries such as security and medicine. “There’s a whole series of ideas that we want to examine,” according to Brown, who has allocated $3 million for investment “where we think modeling, simulation and training can reduce [local market] risk.”

Brown acknowledged that it would not be a short-term activity. “This is not going to give a quick return, but I think over the next two to three years we can apply CAE technology elsewhere,” he said. Roberts said CAE has successfully used modeling and simulation “to create environments in which customers can experience the unthinkable” and establish procedures for recovery.

Under a recent restructuring plan, CAE operations have been reorganized to separate products from services, with each discipline further split into civil and military activities. New business and operational processes have enabled the company to improve performance to the point where, for example, an A320 full-flight simulator can be built in 14 rather than 18-plus months. CAE has consolidated its training activities and is investing a total of $630 million over six years in its largest ever research and development program, which aims to “ensure we maintain our world leadership in technology.” Brown told shareholders in June that current initiatives include redeploying simulators and rationalizing the training center network.

Roberts explained to AIN that as aircraft move between operators it is convenient to relocate some simulators as well as to consolidate capacity. For example, in the U.S., equipment at two Dallas training centers is being moved to a single point. Here in Europe, the Maastricht center in the Netherlands has been closed, with that capacity now being shared between a nearby Amsterdam facility and another point in the Belgian capital Brussels. In Spain, three Madrid centers have been merged.

CAE is completing the expansion of training centers at Burgess Hill (near London’s Gatwick Airport in the UK) and at Zhuhai in China. Business aviation capacity is being added at Burgess Hill, including Dassault Falcon 900, 2000 and F7X platforms in four new simulator bays. The center supports Airbus A320, A330 and A340, and Boeing 747 training. At Zhuhai, where CAE has a joint venture with China Southern Airlines, six more bays are being added to the existing 10, to include A320 and Boeing 737 courses and one other type yet to be announced.

Another move is the establishment of training capacity near Morristown, New Jersey, which will become the home of Falcon 7X training and will also support Falcon 900 and 2000, Gulfstream IV and Sikorsky S-76 activity. All these changes should begin to benefit the company’s business by 2008, according to Brown.