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CAE wins series of C-130 contracts

 - June 15, 2009, 4:38 AM

CAE has won a series of contracts from prime contractor Lockheed Martin and undisclosed customers to design and build four C-130 simulators and several training devices for military customers around the world.

The value of the contracts, signed over the past three months, total more than C$115 million ($103 million), C$60 million ($54 million) of which the company applied to its fiscal year 2010 figures. The rest appears in the company’s financial year 2009 backlog.

Under the terms of one contract, CAE will design and build a C-130J full-mission simulator for the Indian Air Force (IAF) Hindan Airbase. India plans to acquire six C-130Js. CAE will also design and build an HC/MC-130J simulator for the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command and a C-130J systems integration lab for the development and testing of C-130J operational flight program (OFP) block upgrades and modifications.

Another, undisclosed, customer upgrading its fleet of C-130Hs with new communication, navigation and surveillance systems has placed orders with CAE, under subcontract to Lockheed Martin, to design and build a C-130H full-mission simulator to a level D-equivalent standard. Yet another undisclosed customer has signed CAE to provide a C-130H training system for pilots, copilots, flight engineers and navigators.

The contracts announced here come on the heels of a series of recent contracts inked by CAE with the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), U.S. Navy and other militaries valued at more than C$80 million ($72 million). The UK MoD has hired CAE Aircrew Training Services to perform major upgrades on two of the CH-47 Chinook full-mission simulators located at CAE’s Medium Support Helicopter Aircraft Training Facility at Royal Air Force’s Benson base. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy has contracted CAE to perform major upgrades on two MJ-60S operational flight trainers located at Naval Air Station North Island.

In a separate CAE development, the Montreal-based company and India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) recently laid the foundation stone for a new helicopter training center in Bangalore. The facility–dubbed Helicopter Academy to Train by Simulation of Flying (HATS-OFF)–involves a joint venture between HAL and CAE scheduled to begin operations by the middle of next year.

Plans call for the center to use one of CAE’s full-mission simulators featuring the roll-on/roll-off cockpit design, which allows for training for various helicopter types in the same machine. When fully operational, HATSOFF will hold enough capacity to train 400 pilots each year.

Tailored Training

With airlines under mounting pressure to contain costs, CAE is now placing greater emphasis on offering customized training to meet operators’ actual training needs at any given time. According to Jeff Roberts, the group’s president for civil simulation products, training and services, it is also seeking to deliver more operationally oriented and scenario-based training. These approaches can include anything from the company supplying airlines with fully trained pilots to taking over the management of their own training centers. “We recognize that, over time, an airline’s training needs evolve and we can adapt our solutions accordingly.”

Roberts acknowledged that customers are also looking for better prices for simulators and are increasingly looking for help with financing. He said that the modular design of, for example, the CAE 500 series of full-flight simulators is one way in which the company can adjust a product to fit an operator’s current needs and budget.