Canada’s CAE expects to place another three flight simulators next year at the Emirates-CAE Flight Training Center near Dubai International Airport to support the explosive growth in demand for flight training among the region’s airlines and business aircraft operators. Now operating a pair of Boeing 737/BBJ simulators and one each to support Airbus A320/ACJ, A330/A340, Gulfstream IV and V and Hawker 800/800XP training, the center next plans to three more simulators–one each for the 777, A320 and Bell 412 helicopter.
All the aviation activity over the past few years in the Middle East has certainly validated CAE’s decision to invest $100 million in its partnership with Emirates. Since its establishment in 2001, CAE Group president for civil training and services Jeff Roberts has seen the facility draw more than 3,000 pilots a year from some 100 clients around the world. “We have attracted a number of operators from all over the region, southern Asia and Europe, and particularly from Eastern Europe,” he said. Customers include Arabasco, Emirates, Kuwait Airways, Middle East Airlines, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, Royal Jet and Jet Aviation.
For those operators, a new facility right in the neighborhood means they don’t have to send training recruits to the U.S., where burdensome entry requirements have made travel quite inconvenient in many cases. Simple logistics play an even more important role, Roberts said, as the location provides a cheaper and more convenient alternative to training places like the U.S. or even western Europe.
While business aviation activity, as always, remains strong, airlines now account for at least half of CAE’s business in the region. Its latest installation will soon go into operation in Doha, where Qatar Airways pilots will train on an Airbus A330/340 simulator. Eventually, said Roberts, CAE will open its own facility there. More opportunities exist in the Middle East and also on the Indian subcontinent, he added, as that country’s air transport industry continues its rapid march toward full development. “The Dubai facility is not the absolute long-term solution for India,” commented Roberts.