CAE civil training and services group president Jeff Roberts arrived in Geneva Monday as his company announced a major expansion of its business aviation training center in Morristown, New Jersey. But for Roberts, EBACE is all about Europe, where he continues to sound a confident tone about business aviation despite some signs of economic hardship ahead.
“There may be a few bumps along the way, but barring some global catastrophe, overall we’re still bullish,” said Roberts. In fact, CAE recently placed into service its first 5000 Series level-D full-flight simulator at the company’s Burgess Hill aviation training center in the UK, where it now operates 12 machines and plans on adding another three over the coming months.
By the first quarter of next year CAE and Embraer plan to inaugurate a pilot and ground crew training program for Phenom very light jets at Burgess Hill. Part of Embraer CAE Training Services, the program will include 28 hours of instructor-led ground school training using computer-based tools, 12 hours of integrated procedures trainer (IPT) sessions and about 28 hours of simulator sessions based on a two-person crew.
Although Roberts stressed that the company will tailor the program to the needs of so-called owner-flown pilots with no amount of jet time, perceptions that a wave of low-time pilots will suddenly overwhelm the world’s VLJ training capacity have proven overblown. “We understand it would be foolish for the industry not to put together a tailored program for low-time pilots,” said Roberts. “But more than 80 percent of the VLJ students have over 1,500 hours of time.”
Meanwhile, all segments of the business continue to grow, as have all of CAE’s training sites, said Roberts, including the CAE-Emirates center in Dubai, where in the summer of next year a new Global Express simulator is due to arrive. Advertised as and increasing in reality a global transit hub, Dubai has proved an ideal location for a training center, said Roberts, drawing airline trainees from not only the local area, but from Africa and India and more often in the case of business jet pilots, Europe. Of course, the growth of business aviation in the Middle East alone has created enough demand to keep not only CAE’s business jet simulators occupied nonstop, but FlightSafety International facilities at Paris LeBourget and Farnborough in the UK populated with their share of pilots hired by Middle Eastern business jet operators.
Still, the U.S. continues to demand the world’s largest share of capacity from training providers such as CAE, whose expansion in Morristown will see it increase its number of simulators from six to 15, all but one dedicated to fixed-wing business aircraft. Scheduled for completion this fall, new platforms to be added include the Gulfstream 200, Bombardier Challenger 300 and Falcon 50EX.
Instruction in the Gulfstream G450 and G550, including initial and recurrent training, has already begun. Classes for the Hawker Beechcraft 800XPi started in May. The center also contains sims for the Dassault Falcon 7X, the 900EX EASy/2000EX EASy, the Gulfstream IV and Sikorsky S76C+ helicopter.