CAE wants to train future pilots in electric aircraft

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CAE wants to train future pilots in electric aircraft

An Air Canada plane

The Montreal specialist in pilot training and simulators CAE wants to train future pilots in electric planes.

The Montreal-based company plans to convert two-thirds of its fleet of 200 Piper trainer aircraft and develop a training program for electric aircraft. CAE unveiled the partnership with Piper Aircraft on Tuesday at the Farnborough Airshow in the UK.

We're going to be the first operator, says the CEO of sustainable development at CAE, Hélène Gagnon, in an interview. That means we have to develop the whole curriculum of: "how to train on an electric plane".

Ms. Gagnon was unable to say when CAE will achieve its target of converting two-thirds of Piper aircraft. She explains that it is difficult to provide a precise timeline with the development of the new program and the regulatory steps to be taken.

It's in a few years, she says. Is it one year, three years, five years? We are in that bracket. It's not in a huge amount of time. We start now. We will see a difference quite quickly.

The development of training in Quebec, in collaboration with the National School of Aeronautics, is a first step that could lead to the electrification of the fleet of 28,000 Piper training devices, adds Mrs Gagnon. We think there is going to be interest from many other flight academies using Piper aircraft, she predicts.

In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, going electric will reduce noise pollution around schools, she points out. When you have an electric plane, it's kind of like an electric car. You don't hear it. It will make a big difference.

CAE head office offices in Montreal

The announcement comes at a time when talk of carbon neutrality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is monopolizing discussions among major industry players gathered at the Farnborough Airshow. The record heat wave which rages at the same time in the United Kingdom where the mercury is around 40 degrees Celsius adds a symbolic dimension to the event.

Present in Farnborough, the Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, told The Canadian Press on Monday that he intended to make the development of green technologies a central element in the promotion of the Canadian aerospace industry.

Soon, we will be able to make green aluminum, green steel, he listed. We are developing technologies that will allow us to develop new materials that are lighter. Also, we are developing different alternatives in biofuels, even hydrogen.

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