the front line of addressing the pilot shortage

May 27, 2019

Flight training companies such as CAE and FlightSafety International play a crucial role in Business Aviation’s ability to fill the skills gap – both in terms of pilots and maintenance technicians. Nick Klenske reports

According to CAEs most recent Pilot Outlook, over 300,000 new civilian pilots will be needed to meet forecasted demand over the next 10 years. This includes over 50,000 new pilots for business aircraft. With the number of business pilots expected to grow from 55,000 today to over 65,000 in 2028, CAE forecasts that Business Aviation will require nearly 40,000 new pilots to replace today’s pilots – including the 20,000 that will likely leave the sector to move to the airlines.

To satisfy this need, flight simulation companies like CAE and FlightSafety International are looking for ways to develop better pilots, faster. For example, CAE is developing programs aimed at assessing and selecting the right candidates before they even start their training. During training, the company is looking to implement more classroom and simulator training components closer to where operators are based.

CAE is also trying to attract more female pilots, as women are grossly underrepresented in today’s pilot population. In fact, only 5% of all professional pilots are female. The company sees an opportunity to increase diversity while also broadening the civil aviation talent pool.

With pilot training being such a crucial issue, here’s a round-up of what’s happening at some of the major Business Aviation flight training companies.

CAE

In mid-March of this year, CAE confirmed the conclusion of its acquisition of Bombardier’s Business Aircraft Training (BAT) business for an enterprise value of $645 million. The Bombardier BAT business includes a modern fleet of full-flight simulators and training devices covering the Bombardier Learjet, Challenger and Global product lines, including the latest large cabin Global 5500, 6500 and 7500 business jets.

According to the company, the acquisition expands CAE’s ability to address the training market for customers operating Bombardier business jets, which at more than 4,800 aircraft, is one of the largest and most valuable in-service fleets of business aircraft in the world. The acquisition also serves to expand CAE’s position in the largest and fastest growing segment of the Business Aviation training market: medium- and large-cabin business jets. It provides CAE with talented people, a loyal customer base, and an established recurring training business that is highly complementary to CAE’s network.

“We are pleased to welcome Bombardier customers and employees to CAE,” says CAE President & CEO Marc Parent. “Bombardier business jet customers will have access to a seamless training experience in our global network of training centers, providing the most advanced training solutions on the market by leveraging our continued investments in training.”

With this agreement, CAE will be adding 12 Bombardier Business Aviation full-flight simulators located in Dallas and Montreal to its training network (including one deployment already planned for CAE’s fiscal year 2021), for a total of 29 Bombardier Business Aviation full-flight simulators available for training worldwide, with further growth planned in the near- to mid-term.

The announcement comes on the heel of CAE’s signing of multiple Business Aviation training contracts with business aircraft operators worldwide at the close of 2018. The operators include Alerion, DC Aviation, Icon Aviation and Windsor Jet. “These agreements highlight CAE’s Business Aviation training solutions and illustrate our commitment to delivering the best training and customer experience to business jet operators across CAE’s global training network,” says CAE Group President, Civil Aviation Training Solutions Nick Leontidis. “We are excited to support our customers’ growth and we look forward to working with them long into the future.”

TRU Simulation + Training

TRU Simulation + Training, a Textron Inc. company, and FlightSafety International recently entered into a letter of intent to form a joint venture to provide the industry-leading training solution for Textron Aviation’s broad product line of business and general aviation aircraft. The two companies will combine their assets and capabilities, including their simulators, courseware, and world-class teams to support their global customers’ training needs.

“The new joint venture will enhance our ability to service our growing customer base,” says TRU Simulation + Training President Gunnar Kleveland. “With Textron Aviation continuing to expand its product portfolio with aircraft such as the Latitude, Longitude, Hemisphere, Denali and SkyCourier, it is critical we provide the full scope of training services our customers require, and this joint venture will allow us to better address that demand.”

“The combination of our training capabilities will enable us to provide best-in-class pilot and maintenance training programs to our customers around the world,” adds FlightSafety International Co-CEO & President David Davenport. “For more than 40 years FlightSafety has served Textron Aviation customers, and this venture will allow us to offer more flexible training options leveraging the capabilities of both organizations.”

TRU will serve as the exclusive supplier of new Textron Aviation simulators to the joint venture.  TRU will also continue its other operations, including the design and manufacturing of training simulators and providing training solutions for the global aviation industry.

FlightSafety International

At the end of 2018, FlightSafety International made numerous announcements about new simulator programs. For example, the company is building a new Dassault Falcon 2000LXS and Falcon 900LX interchangeable simulator, which will be installed at the FlightSafety Learning Center in Teterboro, New Jersey. Training using the new FlightSafety FS1000 simulator is scheduled to begin in August 2019 following Level D qualification by the FAA and EASA. Approval by other regulatory authorities will be completed according to customer needs.

“We are expanding the capabilities offered at our Teterboro Center to meet the changing and growing needs of our customers,” says FlightSafety International Senior Vice President, Commercial, Steve Gross. “The Falcon 2000LXS and Falcon 900LX training program will include a wide variety of initial, recurrent, differences and update training for pilots, maintenance technicians and flight attendants.”

The Teterboro Learning Center currently offers a wide variety of pilot training programs for aircraft manufactured by Dassault Falcon Jet. They include the Falcon 50EX, Falcon 2000, Falcon 2000EX EASy series, Falcon 900EX, and Falcon 900EX EASy series. The Center also offers a new state-of-the-art facility for flight crew emergency training. It includes a pool for sea survival training, a full-scale dunker, a hoist used to simulate being rescued from water by a helicopter, and a full-scale cabin trainer equipped with a visual system for emergency and cabin service courses.

On the other side of the pond, the company announced that it will offer training for the Pilatus PC-24 aircraft at its Learning Center in Paris. This will be FlightSafety’s second PC-24 simulator and second training location. “We are pleased to offer training for the new Pilatus PC-24 aircraft in Paris starting next year,” says Davenport. “FlightSafety and Pilatus worked closely together to ensure owners and operators of the PC-24 receive the highest quality training and outstanding service they deserve and expect.”

Design and manufacture of the new FlightSafety FS1000 simulator for the PC-24 aircraft is underway at FlightSafety’s simulator design and manufacturing facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It will be equipped with the Honeywell Primus Apex avionics suite and incorporates synthetic vision. The simulator is expected to be qualified to Level D and enter service by the end of 2019.

The simulator will feature FlightSafety’s latest advances in technology, including the CrewView collimated glass mirror display and VITAL 1100 visual system. CrewView provides far superior distortion-free optical performance with greater clarity, sharpness, and brightness. The glass technology provides a true spherical shape for exact geometry across the entire viewing area. VITAL 1100 significantly enhances training by providing highly detailed, mission specific imagery with vastly improved scene content and exceptional environmental effects. Training benefits also include a whole-Earth environment and worldwide database that incorporates latest terrain information with geo-specific satellite images.

A Note on Maintenance

Even though much of the buzz is about the pilot shortage, the real dilemma is the far greater need for maintenance technicians. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 30% of the current technician workforce is approaching retirement age, and Boeing estimates that 118,000 new ones will be needed across North American civil aviation in the next two decades. Already, nearly 90% of Business Aviation leaders surveyed in 2017 by Aviation Personal International felt the industry was in the midst of a maintenance shortage.

With training and professional development being key to filling this skills gap, many of the top flight training companies are also providing maintenance training. For example, CAE offers a comprehensive maintenance training program, including for a number of Bombardier, Dassault, Embraer and Gulfstream business aircraft. Available courses cover such topics as initial maintenance and avionics, troubleshooting, engine run and taxi and digital avionics – to name only a few.

Likewise, FlightSafety International entered into an agreement with the University of Southern California, Los Angeles campus to provide a comprehensive series of courses for aircraft maintenance department managers. The courses include Human Factors in Maintenance, Human Factors in Aviation Safety, Aviation Safety Management Systems, Gas Turbine Accident Investigation, Helicopter Accident Investigation, Aircraft Accident Investigation, Safety Management for Aviation Maintenance, Safety Management for Ground Operations and Accident/Incident Response Preparedness.