ARCHIVED - CAE execs give NATO Flying Training in Canada program a "thumbs up”

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News Article / November 25, 2015

By Jeff Gaye

Two top executives from CAE Group visited 419 Tactical Fighter Training Squadron and NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) program at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, on Friday, October 30, 2015. The visit included familiarization flights in the CT-155 Hawk trainer jet.

“It was not only exciting, it was quite a privilege,” said Gene Colabatistto, CAE Group president. “To even be near the aircraft and see the equipment was very exciting. But I appreciate very few people actually get the opportunity to go flying.

“I also got a chance to appreciate the quality of the range space,” he said. “The whole thing was an outstanding experience. We’re around airplanes and combat aviators and high-tech equipment every day, but this was a much more special experience.”

CAE took over NFTC training from Bombardier on October 1, 2015. The contract includes NFTC pilot training at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and fighter lead-in training at 419 Squadron, which is located at Cold Lake, but reports to 15 Wing Moose Jaw, where 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School is located.

AS NFTC prime contractor, CAE is responsible for all support aspects at 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School, including the provision of the training aircraft: the CT-156 Harvard II turboprop and the CT-155 Hawk advanced tactical jet. 419 Squadron conducts Phase IV – fighter lead-in training – of the NFTC program, employing the Hawk.

Mike Greenley, vice-president and general manager of CAE Canada, said the flights provided valuable insight for the company. “For me personally, it was just fun. Professionally, it was educational,” he said.

“We like to partner with the air force to provide the training systems that we help run. It’s easy for us to appreciate the classroom media, computer-based training and simulation, but to appreciate the live-flying media and how that works and is used to teach, it can only help us do our jobs better.”

For CAE, involvement in NFTC is a strategic step in the company’s growth.

“We aspire to be a full-solutions provider to governments,” said Mr. Colabatistto. “Today that typically means a mix of classroom training, live flying and high-tech modern simulation systems.” He said the NFTC program is “a perfect example where all three of these exist.

“As we look to the future, this is a prototype of exactly what we want our business to be.”

Mr. Colabatistto said NFTC will evolve and improve under CAE, but there will not be a radical re-tooling of the program. “This is an absolute first-tier training program in the entire world,” he said. “The [Royal] Canadian Air Force and 419 Squadron have a set of expertise and a talent set that very, very few commands in the world have. There may be only two or three more in the whole world.”

Besides the Royal Canadian Air Force, CAE works with other agencies throughout the world and are in a position to share best practices as well as lessons learned through others’ mistakes. But “the way forward is not going to be a great departure from what is going on here today,” he said.

419 Squadron’s commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Mike Grover, said he is excited with what CAE brings to the NFTC program.

“It means a new optimistic look at the way integrated training solutions are incorporated into 419 Squadron and NFTC, here and in Moose Jaw,” he said. “It’s new blood and the company has new ideas, so we’re very optimistic about that.”

Jeff Gaye is the editor of the Cold Lake Courier newspaper.

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