CAE's opening of a new training center at Crawley, UK, near London Gatwick Airport last week in a joint ceremony with EasyJet heralded the airline's move to "evidence-based" training from a prescriptive, regulation-based approach for its 4,000 pilots at 30 bases across Europe. CAE also recently opened new training centers in Manchester, UK, and Milan, Italy, the latter setting aside a section for EasyJet training as well. The three centers form part of a ten-year, $170 (CDN) million agreement signed in November 2018 with the UK low-cost carrier, which says the arrangement will allow it to make far better use of pilot recurrent training by identifying individual learning points from data of actual flights undertaken by the pilot.
At Gatwick, EasyJet has reserved exclusive use of five CAE 7000XR full-flight simulators, co-branded with CAE. They are Airbus A320 devices, while the center also offers training on two other similar devices—for an A330 and an A350—already in use by Virgin Atlantic Airways for the past two months. The next simulator to arrive, a Boeing 787 full-flight device, will come new from CAE’s factory.
By the end of 2020, six more simulators—two A320s, an Embraer 190, a 737NG, and a 757/767—will have moved from CAE’s current Gatwick center, nearby. CAE will keep the lease on the land on which the old center sits and is considering other options, such as accommodation for cadets. The new center will see some 13,000 cadets pass through a year, undertaking type ratings and recurrent training. CAE claims now to train some 135,000 pilots a year across 59 training locations worldwide; it operates some 300 simulators, of which 80 or so serve business aircraft pilots.
The new center will feature two CAE 600XRs, the second to join the initial machine at Gatwick next October and another due for installation in Milan this December. The devices will be fixed-base trainers, which essentially perform the same functions as a full-flight simulator but without the motion systems. A 737 cabin crew mockup will also occupy the same area of the building.
Marc Parent, president and CEO of CAE, said the 7000XR incorporates the latest EASA upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT) requirements that resulted from accidents such as Air France Flight 447 and Colgan Air Flight 3407 in the U.S. He noted that CAE sold its first simulator to British Airways in 1970 and opened its facility in Burgess Hill, south of Gatwick Airport, in 2004, “to meet the needs of EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic.” Meanwhile, in Oxford, UK, it runs a pilot training base that supplies many of the cadets to Gatwick for type-rating training.
"We're investing approximately £90 million ($110 million) supporting our airline partners just in the UK—and we also have Manchester, Barcelona, Milan, and Oslo," said Parent. "So we have grown in no small way in Europe as a whole.” He pointed to the need for thousands of pilots over the next few years and the need to encourage more women to join the profession. Women now account for only 5 percent of pilots; EasyJet aims to increase the proportion of women pilot trainees to 20 percent by 2020, compared with 18 percent in 2018. CAE, meanwhile, participates in a scholarship program with five airlines and recently announced the latest winners. Finally, Parent said CAE has launched a $1 billion digital transformation project that would bring in new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, into training over the next five years.
EasyJet interim COO David Morgan called Crawley the most modern center in Europe. “Today marks a milestone in EasyJet’s 24-year history,” he said, adding that more standard simulator training would help in the move to the evidence-based training. He said EasyJet would soon have available nine full-flight simulators for its dedicated use in the three locations, along with the two fixed-based trainers.
CAE uses a single EASA Air Training Organisation (ATO) approval in Denmark, where it bases its head of training.
CAE designed its full-flight simulators for 20 hours a day of use, the other four hours left for maintenance. Along with EasyJet, the company maintains training partnerships with airlines such as Virgin Atlantic, BA CityFlyer, Norwegian, TUI UK, LOT Polish Airlines, and SAS Ireland.