Gene Colabatistto, CAE’s group president of Defence and Security, believes that the Middle East will be a growth market for simulation and training systems. Already the number one supplier of flight simulators in the region to both civil and defence customers, he expects the company to build on its 33-year history in the region.
Colabatistto believes the trend towards greater use of synthetic training will only gather speed, and that, as air forces recapitalise and reequip, they will increasingly move training from the aircraft itself to full mission simulators, full-motion simulators, flight training devices, part-task trainers, desktop devices and the classroom, with cost savings to be leveraged wherever training can be ‘downloaded’ to the next level ‘down’ the ladder of decreasing fidelity and sophistication.
Synthetics allow operators to make a more intelligent and cost-effective use of their aircraft assets, extending overall fleet life by flying fewer hours, or reducing fleet size (since fewer aircraft are required for training), or increasing operational output.
CAE (Canadian Pavilion, Stand 01-B60) delivered its first flight simulator to the region in 1982 to the Royal Saudi Air Force. Until 2002, CAE was primarily a supplier of flight simulators – with its customers consisting of OEMs (who might supply simulators, or training packages when selling a new aircraft type), armed forces, or large companies with a continuous training requirement, such as Gulf Helicopters.
Some of CAE’s key programmes in the Middle East include Bell 212 and Boeing E-3A flight simulators to the Royal Saudi Air Force, Super Lynx full-mission simulators to the Royal Air Force of Oman, a PC-7 flight training device to the UAE Air Force and an AW139 full-flight simulator for Abu Dhabi Aviation.
Recently, the company has also provided Kuwait with a KC-130J full-motion simulator, and has programmes underway in Oman (for the C295), and the UAE and Saudi Arabia – the latter covering the supply of part-task trainers for aircrew and boom operators for the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport.
In 2002, CAE and Emirates established the Emirates-CAE Flight Training (ECFT) joint venture training centre, marking a shift towards whole-fleet and, in the military sphere, ‘whole-community’ training solutions, rather than single-type training devices.
The Kuwaiti KC-130J simulator marks the beginning of just such a system for the Kuwaiti air force, occupying one bay of a four-bay facility built by the company, which is expected to accommodate a fully networked training centre for the Kuwaiti air mobility community.