If ever there was proof that in adversity lies opportunity, Canadian training and simulator company CAE is a prime example. The worldwide pilot shortage and even the devastating grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX airliner have proven profitable for the Montreal-based company. Last week, CAE announced a contract with the U.K.’s easyJet to train 1,000 new pilots through the budget carrier’s cadet multi-crew pilot licence program. “CAE will also provide Airbus 320 type rating training and place graduates of CAE’s integrated airline transport pilot licence (ATPL) program with easyJet,” the company said in a news release. Meanwhile, the company’s simulator division is ramping up production of MAX simulators.
When the MAX was introduced, one of its main selling points was that existing 737NG pilots could transition to the MAX with minimal training. That meant CAE sold only a handful of simulators. However the devastating crashes and subsequent investigations that ensued have shown the MAX is a much different airplane than older models. While it’s not clear what new pilot training will be required to return the MAX to service, CAE is betting that airlines will not be taking any chances. “Our assumption is that there’s obviously going to be a lot of pent-up demand when those airplanes start flying,” CEO Marc Parent said in a conference call with analysts. The company, which normally builds simulators to order, has stockpiled extra sims in advance of that predicted demand.