MEBAA Convention News

Sands of time strengthen bond between Emirates and CAE

 - November 10, 2008, 6:38 AM

The Emirates-CAE Flight Training center located alongside the Emirates Aviation College here in Dubai is benefiting from a strategic location, a sound local market and a partnership between local airline and Canadian training specialist that seems to be working well. According to Jeff Roberts, CAE’s group president for innovation and civil training and services, the new facility has been “an unmitigated success” and the relationship with the Emirates Group “continues to evolve and develop, expand and grow.”

One reason why the joint venture has been successful, in his view, is that the philosophy and the culture of both partners was to be “very customer oriented, to allow the partnership and the operations to move and adjust in line with the requirements and expectations of customers.” The majority of those customers come from the Gulf region, but the Dubai center has also attracted business from elsewhere in Asia, as well as Africa, Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States and Europe.

“Dubai has become a transit point, a hub,” Roberts told MEBA Convention News. “It’s easy to get to; it’s accessible from everywhere; so we benefit from that to a large degree.”

Another crucial factor in the decision was to make the center both a type rating training organization (TRTO) as defined by the European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) and a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 142 approved center.
“We have some prospective customers who are very JAA-oriented,” Roberts explained, “so our courses, our programs and training curriculum and so forth have to be very JAA-oriented. However, others want to train in line with the FAA curriculum. So we offer both on a stand-alone basis.” Rather than try to adapt one training regime to cover both sets of requirements, he said, “we offer two very different programs. I think the customer base has really been very responsive to that in a favorable way.”

The Dubai center, of course, is part of a global CAE network that includes more than two-dozen establishments around the world. “We have truly created a global footprint, with operations and people on the ground in every time zone,” Roberts said.

In September, CAE announced that five of its worldwide training centers have been certified under one TRTO certificate, ensuring smoother regulatory transitions for CAE’s clients around the world. The company’s long-term plan is to certify all training centers in its global network.

CAE also claims to be unique in being the only pilot training organization to cover every segment of the market, with activities in general, business, regional, commercial and military aviation. But each segment has its own idiosyncrasies, Roberts cautioned. The good news, he added, is that “everybody wants to get better, everybody is focused on enhancing safety and efficiency.” So techniques that work in one particular geographical area or market segment can be shared and examined for potential applicability and value in others.

“We’re seeing more and more of that,” Roberts elaborated. “For one thing, it’s indisputable that the industry in general is challenged with the increasing economic pressures around the world coupled with the increasing cost of fuel.” Operators, consequently, are looking for help in finding ways to be more efficient, while at the same time enhancing their journey toward safer operations.

There are specific considerations, in the Middle East region, though. “There are certainly sensitivities culturally, geographically and operationally that we have to be flexible to address,” Roberts said. “You will see that reflected in the core standards, in our activities, in the courseware and the courses themselves.

The Gulf market is no longer in its infancy but it is still relatively young. “This is especially apparent when you see how robust and growth-oriented and how successful the region seems to be,” commented Roberts. “There are critics and skeptics who will say there is no way this is sustainable, but it is a very robust area. They have a different model, a different mindset, they have some very bright people and they seem to have it figured out.”

The Dubai center is certainly well positioned to take advantage of the Gulf region’s breathless growth.