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Nav Canada partners with CAE for first-of-its-kind training program 

Avatar for Ben ForrestAvatar for Ben ForrestBy Ben Forrest | April 17, 2024

Estimated reading time 5 minutes, 19 seconds.

Lyne Moreau (standing), vice-president and chief strategy officer at Nav Canada, and Marie-Christine Cloutier, CAE’s vice-president of performance, strategy and marketing (right). CAE Photo

In a bid to recruit 500 students over four years and build a pipeline of new air traffic controllers, Nav Canada and CAE are launching a first-of-its-kind training partnership. 

Through a program announced April 16, 2024, CAE will provide initial classroom and simulator training for about 180 Nav Canada students per year at a new purpose-built air traffic services training centre on the CAE campus in Montreal. 

About 35 CAE instructors and training managers are being hired as part of the project, using Nav Canada curriculum and courseware to deliver early-stage training for ATCs and flight service specialists. The first students are expected in the fall of 2024. 

“The goal is really to increase the resilience and agility in the system,” said Lyne Moreau, vice-president and chief strategy officer at Nav Canada, the not-for-profit company that provides air traffic control (ATC) and other aviation services at major airports across the country. 

“There’s a need for air traffic personnel now, but we’re thinking a lot about the future … traffic levels are back up to almost what it was before the pandemic, but if you look at predictions, that growth in traffic will be significant. The partnership will help us be ready for that growth.” 

Nav Canada has traditionally handled training in-house, but felt it needed a partner with CAE’s expertise to train the wave of talent it will require over the next half-decade and beyond. This is the first time CAE will deliver an ATC training system of this size, but the Montreal-based company hopes to build a model that can be exported to other countries.  

“Nav Canada is a leader, worldwide, in their space — and so are we,” said Marie-Christine Cloutier, CAE’s vice-president of performance, strategy and marketing. “We’re the world’s largest aviation training provider … obviously our focus will be to successfully deliver on the Nav Canada partnership, but also we have a new markets group that will be exploring opportunities worldwide as well.”  

In an emailed statement, a CAE spokesperson noted the company also provided ATC services in the 1970s, though its focus in recent years shifted elsewhere. Today, CAE is said to be the world’s largest aviation training provider. Nav Canada is the world’s second-largest Air Navigation Service Provide, with staff at all major Canadian airports. 

Under this agreement, Nav Canada will still handle later-stage ATC training in-house, including a compulsory specialty course at its area control centres, and subsequent on-the-job training. 

To reach new recruits, Nav Canada has launched a comprehensive marketing and outreach program, with a focus on diversity and inclusion. Only about 16 per cent of ATCs in Canada are women, according to Elevate Aviation, an Edmonton-based charity and advocacy group. 

“Diversity and inclusion has been a priority at Nav Canada for several years now,” said Moreau. “We always try to increase diversity.” 

Notably, the Nav Canada-CAE partnership was initiated and developed by two women leaders—Moreau and Cloutier—and will have several women in management roles.  

“We’re particularly proud of that, because this is not common,” said Clouthier. 

It’s hoped the partnership will also help Nav Canada modernize its training model, gaining efficiencies and leveraging CAE’s insight and global reach.  

“We’re extremely excited to start in the fall,” said Moreau. “Our goal is to deliver long term benefits to Canada, and this partnership will help us to do that … we’re very proud of it.” 

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