Jeff Roberts, CAE group president for innovation, civil training and services, leads the company’s global training organization serving approximately 3,500 airlines, business aircraft operators and manufacturers worldwide.
Roberts, a former CEO of SimuFlite Training, joined CAE in 2002 following that company’s acquisition of SimuFlite. He is an experienced pilot and training officer who has held positions in operations, sales, marketing and business development. A University of Colorado graduate, Roberts is a director of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and a trustee of the U. S. Aerobatic Foundation.
CAE is at Booth No. 5146 with information on its worldwide aviation training programs. The Montreal-based company’s primary business is providing comprehensive training for pilots and maintenance technicians. CAE has 115 full-flight simulators in 24 centers on the continents of North and South America, Europe and Asia, in addition to five CAE Global Academy sites in strategic locations around the world operated in alliances with ab initio flight schools.
Roberts recently discussed with NBAA Convention News the intensification of globalization, its impact on the industry in general and how it is shaping CAE’s strategies for supporting its customers, both in North America and the rest of the world.
Can you summarize CAE’s strategy for success, especially with the shift to a more global market?
Relatively speaking we’re the little guys, so we should have a culture of adaptability and not be predisposed about how our capabilities will be applied, but should instead listen to every customer and adapt to his approach.
We’ve been in growth mode the last four or five years, and I think you’ll see that continue. We’re seeking clarity about how the world is changing, and we’re trying to capitalize on the global nature of our business through strategic alliances and partnerships. No one has a broader offering of training assets than we do–that’s just a fact. We will continue to explore and develop new partnerships and enhance the ones we have.
Our message is: We have a long-term, long-standing commitment to business aviation, and to focus on developing and expanding the avenues we take through our worldwide network in supporting our customers, given the increasingly global nature of the business.
CAE serves customers worldwide in partnerships with various OEMs. Can you describe those alliances?
We strive to create partnerships that support continued success of the OEMs and the FBOs who support their customers. In so doing we work to better support the user of the aircraft.
Our partnerships with OEMs have one similarity–they’re all different. We try to take an approach with each one that is supportive of their strategies, the support they want to provide to their customer base.
We’re getting involved earlier and earlier in this partnership process. With Embraer, for example, it’s not just a traditional training program focused what happens after the aircraft is delivered, but also becoming involved from the start, in the flight test and certification process. That way, together we identify and devise solutions to operational issues that may be unique to that airframe.
CAE has stated that it provides customized versus canned training curricula. Can you elaborate on that claim?
We understand the need to spend more time listening to the operators to determine their specific requirements. It’s not a one size fits all. That’s where we create value.
As the market expands, the solutions we’re being asked to create continue to evolve.
They’re all different but they have the same purpose: to enable operation of the aircraft to become increasingly safe and increasingly efficient.
Here’s a specific example. We are the sole training provider for Dassault on their Falcon Jet line. We not only build the assets and deploy them, but we also create the training manuals and staff the training centers. It’s almost a turnkey solution.
With other OEMs, there are different kinds of relationships. Bombardier, for instance, has some training assets they want to deploy and use themselves. But they see value in cooperating with us in other areas.
Customization requires more resources and time?
We spend a significant amount of time with the end users to identify their needs. Then, too, we spend time with the regulators, insurance underwriters, and above all, our employees–all toward the common goal for us to better understand how they’re going to define success. If we help them be more successful, everybody wins.
We have the widest global footprint, which is to our advantage because business aviation is becoming more and more global. That’s a good thing for the industry, and it’s good for us. We have 29 training centers throughout the world, including the CAE Global Academy sites, so we’re prepared to accommodate the differences in needs and preferences between a Gulfstream operator in the U.S. and one in Dubai or another in Switzerland. That requires us to understand their varying circumstances and operating cultures and we can best do so by being there.