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Why personalized learning is on the horizon for Canada’s Air Force

Two Canadian companies join forces to make it happen

A fighter pilot walks toward his jet on the tarmac.

You may not know about Canada’s stellar reputation for military training around the world, but veteran Canadian fighter pilot Bill Ryan does.

“In UN operations, everybody wants a Canadian,” Ryan said in a recent interview on the Canadian Defense Review podcast. “We don’t just teach people how to do something. We teach them how to think and make decisions.”

Ryan is also deputy general manager at SkyAlyne, a partnership forged in 2018 between two Canadian companies ready to train the next generation of Canadian pilots and aircrew.

CAE (founded in 1947 as Canadian Aviation Electronics, Ltd) is a worldwide leader in high-tech training and simulation and as a turnkey training system integrator. KF Aerospace (Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd, founded in 1970) is Canada’s largest maintenance repair and overhaul provider with extensive experience in airworthiness and in-service support.

Both CAE and KF Aerospace are already training the RCAF through two separate programs. SkyAlyne combines their considerable experience and capabilities for Canada’s next generation aircrew training program.

It’s easy to see why SkyAlyne was the only truly Canadian applicant shortlisted for FAcT: the Future Aircrew Training Program. The partnership brings together a robust Canadian community that can arguably provide some of the best military training in the world.

Getting personal with the Royal Canadian Air Force

Revolutionizing the way Canada’s next generation of pilots will train is where CAE’s technology comes in.

“Personalized learning is our mission,” said Philippe Perey, CAE’s head of technology, defense & security. Traditionally, pilot instructors taught in a classroom while students passively listened. CAE’s tech flips that model on its head, figuratively putting students in the ‘cockpit’ of their own training from day one.

Mobile and virtual reality devices deliver materials to students directly so they can learn independently. Meanwhile, sophisticated data analytics track their progress, providing AI-based feedback on their performance. And students can still ask for the instructor’s help when they need it.

The data also enables continuous quality improvement by evaluating the program. “If everybody’s failing question 37, maybe it’s not their fault. Maybe it’s how that training was developed,” said Perey.

The benefits are clear. Personalized learning creates engaged trainees, reduces the time and cost of moving them through the program, and reduces overall washout rates. “If a student fails at the last mile, it’s literally millions of dollars that’s wasted,” said Perey.

This is precisely what the federal government wants. “Canada is very clear they don’t want a static program that stays the same from day one to 25 years later,” said SkyAlyne’s capture manager Abir Kazan.

A home-grown solution for Canadians, by Canadians

“We want what’s best for the Canadian Air Force,” said Kazan. “It’s close to our heart.” That’s why SkyAlyne offers more than just cutting-edge tech.

They’re committed to diversity. Reaching out to Indigenous communities in Canada is a critical part of their recruitment and partnering efforts.

They’re also protecting Canadian investments. “We reap the benefits of what the Canadian government is investing in us for research and development and can now deliver on a Canadian program,” Kazan said. Long-standing relationships with Canadian subcontractors who support SkyAlyne’s work also add significant value.

As a whole, says Ryan, SkyAlyne’s value can be summed up in a simple phrase: “Built by Canadians, for Canadians.”