Success Stories – CAE Inc.

The Company

CAE is a publicly traded Canadian company headquartered in St‑Laurent, Quebec. Over the six decades since its inception, CAE has grown to become a leader in the science of flight and systems simulation, providing advanced design and manufacturing of civil and military aircraft full flight simulators and, since 2000, comprehensive flight training services for pilots and crew members. More recently, CAE has leveraged its modeling and simulation expertise into markets outside of its traditional realm and has expanded into CAE Healthcare. With annual revenues of $2.1 billion in fiscal year 2014, CAE currently employs approximately 8,000 people worldwide at more than 100 sites and training locations in approximately 30 countries around the world. Nearly half the workforce is employed in Canada and is comprised primarily of engineers, scientists and technical personnel.

The Project

The Falcon Project was a complex $700 million R&D project that spanned five years from 2009 to 2014 and supported the core research and development capability of CAE. The project was successful in conducting R&D that not only consolidated and expanded CAE's world‑leading position in its core full‑flight simulator and training business but also supported the diversification of the company into new modeling and simulation markets.

As such, the project's core R&D work focused on six technology activity areas aligned with both new simulator development as well as enhancements to existing systems/protocols. The outcome of this work supports improved pilot and crew training, aircraft maintenance and design as well as decision support across a variety of market segments where safety and security, either on land or in the air, are paramount.

Without Project Falcon, we would not have proceeded at the same pace; today's innovation is moving fast and changing rapidly. Project Falcon has allowed us to remain at the forefront and gave us the necessary timely competitive edge.

Houssam Alaouie, CAE's Manager, Research & Development programs and University/Academic relations


With the assistance of the SADI repayable contribution, innovation has occurred across a broad platform of CAE technologies, systems, products and services. In CAE's core business area of flight simulators, new technologies have reduced the cost and lead‑time of new simulators and increased their operating efficiency.

This has been accomplished through:

  • Open architecture to allow for a library of reusable aircraft system components;
  • Next generation display visualization technologies;
  • Enhanced sensor systems and synthetic environments that better replicate physical sensations and allow for improved real‑world scenarios; and
  • Improved networking and interconnectivity supporting seamless hardware interface and faster processing speed.

With respect to diversification into new markets, innovations in the dynamic synthetic environments (the combination of simulation and real‑world inputs) and the incorporation of human behaviour modeling will support CAE's move into new applications, such as healthcare, and disaster/crisis management.

CAE 3000 Series full flight simulator for light and medium size civil helicopters

CAE 3000 Series full flight simulator for light and medium size civil helicopters

These enhancements have been incorporated in the launch of simulators for new aircraft platforms (such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Bombardier Challenger, and Learjet 85), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as well as light and medium size civil helicopters (an industry first), where sales success has followed. New technologies will also permit CAE to diversify into non‑aircraft‑related modeling and simulation areas such as military ground operations, energy security, healthcare, and operations. These innovations are essential for CAE to maintain its 70% market share in an aggressively competitive market and not only increase CAE's capabilities but provide technology discriminators in comparison to what competitors are offering. Overall, the competitiveness of CAE has increased substantially as the technology developed will assist customers to improve safety, operational efficiency and mission readiness.

Due to these enhanced technologies and the derived products, CAE has also been able to expand its offering within its training services which has grown to include the largest network of civil training locations in the industry (more than 100 training sites in over 30 countries). In addition, Bombardier has recently appointed CAE as their authorized training provider for their Challenger 350 Business Jet while Emirates Airlines has more than doubled its annual cadet training for 2015 based on proven student success.

R&D collaboration has been a major contributor to the success of the Falcon project. CAE has a long and beneficial history of collaboration with universities (including McGill, Carleton and McMaster for Project Falcon) the National Research Council and the research laboratories at the Department of National Defence. These collaborations continued over the course of the Falcon Project and were instrumental in supporting technology development across all platforms and enhancing the internal R&D capacity of CAE, which has now grown to approximately 1,400 staff with advanced degrees and expertise. In addition, CAE engaged over 344 co‑op students directly through Project Falcon, helping to develop the next generation of talent and expertise in the aerospace sector.

Other broader benefits that will result from Project Falcon include reduced environmental impact and improved safety and security. These benefits are derived from the use of virtual simulation to replace on‑board training in the aircraft and/or military vehicle. More specifically, by replacing wide‑body aircraft pilot training with a virtual simulator, between 7,500 and 14,000 liters of fuel and 6.6 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide are saved for every hour of training that is converted from aircraft to simulator. Noise pollution as well as wear and tear on the aircraft is also mitigated. Simulation improves safety by enhancing pilot proficiency and eliminating risks of training in the aircraft.

In Summary

Overall, Project Falcon has allowed CAE to improve both their strategic R&D capabilities and product offerings in a global market where modeling and simulation is being used more frequently in any field where safety and security can benefit and resource costs and risk can be significantly offset. The SADI repayable contribution has allowed CAE to leverage its strengths and position itself as a world‑class competitor in the provision of a comprehensive suite of full flight simulators, training services and process solutions. Project Falcon also created a strong foundation to broaden CAE's future business prospects, beyond aerospace and defence, as other sectors struggle with high degrees of complexity and large amounts of data. Ultimately, CAE is contributing to Canada by both maintaining and improving its global position as a significant player in the aerospace and defence sector and related markets through its continuing investment in human resources, research and development and an innovative corporate culture.