CAE Expands Bizav Training, Works To Tackle Impending Maintainer Shortage

Sridhar Parthasarathy

CAE's Sridhar Parthasarathy addresses the press at EBACE.

Credit: Mark Wagner/Aviation Images

GENEVA—Training services provider CAE is expanding its offering to the business aviation sector in Europe, as the company looks to address some of the harder-to-solve challenges its customers are facing. 

In a pre-EBACE press conference on May 22, the company announced that its new central European business aviation training center will be located in Vienna, Austria, with six full-flight simulators—including Europe's first Bombardier Global 7500 device. The center will begin operations in the second half of 2024 and will join bizav training facilities it has inaugurated or enhanced over the past year in the U.S.—in Florida, Georgia and Las Vegas—and Singapore

In tandem—and in an attempt to get ahead of what the company's bizav maintenance training division's Sridhar Parthasarathy, CAE's global sales and growth leader, calls a "bow wave of retirements" that the sector is about to hit—CAE is revamping its Master Technician Program.

"Over 36% of today's technicians are over 60 years old," Parthasarathy said. "We're going to lose some of the most highly skilled and experienced people. Our customers not only have to recruit, train and onboard a generation of new technicians and engineers—they have to enhance their skill at a much more accelerated pace so that they can ensure our customers' aircraft are reliably maintained."

Master Technician is an award program designed to accelerate the trainee's career development. Parthasarathy says that in the program's newly reconfigured iteration, it is more flexible, offering earlier and more nuanced assessment of technical and leadership capabilities, as well as competencies across multiple types.

"It provides a more valuable employee career value proposition for our customers, and supports retention of people," he said.

Another key factor is the compression of skills acquisition, with some elements of hands-on training being accelerated through the utilization of practical training aids, synthetic training and virtual reality systems. Speeding up the conversion of newly qualified maintainers into experienced aircraft specialists is clearly necessary, although how much streamlining of the process the industry will accept remains to be seen.

"Today, a lot of our customers will say: 'I wouldn't trust a technician completely unless they've got seven, eight years, and they know everything about the aircraft.' I just don't think that's sustainable," Parthasarathy said.

"As the industry grows and goes through this period of rejuvenating talent, we have to find more constructive, more structured pathways to accelerate this process. That is what Master Tech does today: It looks at where in the competency journey the technician is, and how to accelerate that," he added.

Angus Batey

Angus Batey has been contributing to various titles within the Aviation Week Network since 2009, reporting on topics ranging from defense and space to business aviation, advanced air mobility and cybersecurity.