When it comes to training the next generation of military personnel, CAE has always had its finger on the pulse of how to prepare defence forces.
Founded shortly after the second world war by a former member of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), the Canadian company has played a critical role in developing training solutions and technologies for defence and military customers for more than 75 years.
Today, the company is continuing to revolutionize training and support solutions, by adopting and developing leading edge technologies to transform how students learn.
Focusing on personalized training and integrating state-of-the-art virtual simulators into the classroom, CAE is helping address the needs of defence and security organizations across the air, land, sea, space and cyber domains.
“We transform training to be centered around the students,” said Phillippe Perey, head of technology, defence and security at CAE.
CAE’s customized, turnkey training programs and systems are designed to help forces and crews acquire the critical skills and knowledge they need to do their job safely and effectively.
Using a mix of applications, digital courseware, virtual, augmented and mixed reality as well as high-fidelity simulators that mimic what it’s like to be on board a naval ship or engaged in air combat, students not only gain direct experience, but instructors also receive immediate performance data.
“Instructors can see how each student is performing and decide whether they need to intervene,” said Perey, adding that simulators can also recreate high-pressure situations to help students build confidence. “This often creates a faster learning process, which can save organizations both time and money.”
How CAE is revolutionizing fighter pilot training
One of CAE’s modern technological innovations is “Sprint”, an Immersive Training Device — or ITD — that provides aviation students with a realistic learning experience as well as immediate feedback on individual and accumulated class performance.
Built around a helmet-mounted virtual reality display, CAE Sprint includes a seat equipped with the primary flight controls, the stick, the throttle, and rudder pedals that replicate what students will find in an aircraft.
“It simulates every aspect of flying a military plane,” says Perey.
In fact the experience is so real that the student is exposed to the same stress they might feel in the actual (live) situation.
By monitoring biometric readings like heart rate and eye-tracking, instructors can assess individual student’s stress, engagement and cognitive workload levels, and adjust training to moderate, or increase complexity, either slowing or accelerating training as appropriate.
The VR headset also gives students a 360 view of the terrain, the airport, and the landing area, ensuring an as close to real-world experience as possible.
“The students can look back and see the tail of the aircraft,” said Perey.
“They can move the rudders and they can see that the tail sections are moving. They can look at their wing tips to assess if they’re coming in correctly. They can check the weather and see how much fuel they have left.”
While this technology may seem like a major shift from the traditional method of teaching, it isn’t meant to replace instructors, who Perey says “are worth their weight in gold”, but to meet the learning needs of the tech-driven, next generation.
“It’s really about acquiring the knowledge and skills,” added Perey. “To create a great pilot you need to help them acquire the right knowledge, skills, and attitudes, and technology like this does just that, efficiently and effectively.”