MEBAA Convention News

CAE Eyes Looming Middle East Pilot Shortage

 - December 10, 2018, 1:46 AM
Falcon Aviation is the launch customer for CAE’s new ERJ145 simulator, which recently received FAA approval at the Abu Dhabi Aviation Training Center.

Middle East operators will need about 1,500 new pilots to fly business aircraft in the Gulf States market across the next decade, based on forecasts by training provider CAE and avionics and engine manufacturer Honeywell.

CAE (Booth 427) estimates replacement pilots due to attrition at 8 percent per year—4 percent for retirements and 4 percent from airline poaching of bizjet crew members. “In the business sector, replacements due to retirement are exacerbated by a net loss of business jet pilots who leave their jobs to join airlines,” said Nick Leontidis, CAE’s group president, Civil Aviation Training Solutions. In the Middle East, with a current fleet of about 450 bizjets, that translates to 900 replacement pilots.

In addition, the Middle East and Africa market is expected to acquire about 300 new aircraft across the decade, 4 percent of the worldwide market of 7,700, according to Honeywell’s forecast, adding another 600 crew.

CAE notes that the average age of business aircraft pilots globally is about 49 years, even older than the average commercial airline pilot at 46. They do not break out the demographics by region, but typical Middle East pilots are likely younger than their counterparts in the dominant U.S. business aviation market.

CAE is the only provider with business aviation training centers in the Middle East, including a joint venture with Emirates at Dubai Al Garhoud and a partnership with the Abu Dhabi Aviation Training Center. In August, CAE received approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for Part 142 training for the Embraer ERJ145 at Abu Dhabi. In addition to a full-flight simulator, CAE provides courseware and simulator instructors. In Dubai, visual and avionics upgrades were performed over the past nine months on simulators for the Dassault Falcon 7X, Falcon 900/2000 EASy and Bombardier Challenger 604/605 and Global jets with the Vision flight deck.

The Dassault Falcons and Gulfstream GIV, GV/G550, and G650 platforms are eligible for CAE’s Master Pilot Training Program, which it launched a year ago. Leontidis said the “exemplary career advancement tool raises pilot levels of platform knowledge, safety awareness, and situational response capabilities.”

With the $645 million acquisition in November of Bombardier Business Aircraft Training, including a dozen flight simulators, CAE’s network of 10 training locations in Canada, the U.S., Brazil, the UK, The Netherlands, UAE, and China are approaching 100 full flight simulators (FFSs). The acquisition does not necessarily change much for customers, as Bombardier’s training centers in Montreal and Dallas are already co-located with CAE facilities and support operations. The CAE network now boasts 29 sims for Bombardier aircraft types, including the Global 5500, 6500, and 7500. “At more than 4,800 aircraft,” Leontidis noted, Bombardier business jets represent “one of the largest and most valuable in-service fleets of business aircraft in the world.”

A Bombardier Global 5000/6000 sim installed earlier this year at CAE’s Burgess Hill training center near London represents the first 7000XR series FFS with Tropos 6000XR visual system for a business aircraft.

Annually, Leontidis said, CAE trains more than 135,000 pilots, including “a little over 20 percent of business aviation pilots.” Recurrent training accounts for 80 percent of CAE's bizjet traffic with 20 percent for new type ratings.