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October 31, 2019 | Local, Aerospace

SkyAlyne: A True Canadian Collaboration for FAcT

SkyAlyne: A True Canadian Collaboration for FAcT

In May 2018, CAE and KF Aerospace joined together to form SkyAlyne Canada – a 50/50 joint venture to focus on developing and delivering military pilot and aircraft training in Canada. These two companies currently deliver all phases of pilot training to the Royal Canadian Air Force through the NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) program and the Contracted Flying Training and Support (CFTS) program. These programs will come to an end in the next few years and Canada is looking to award a new contract to renew its existing aircrew training services through the Future Aircrew Training program (FAcT). Vanguard recently had the opportunity to speak with Peter Fedak, Program Solutions, SkyAlyne Canada.

Can you tell us a little more about this joint venture between CAE and KF Aerospace?

Peter Fedak: CAE and KF Aerospace are the current providers of all phases of military pilot training and air combat system operator training in Canada. Since we have the knowledge, experience, and credibility with the RCAF in providing these training services to them, we thought that by joining together we can provide the best solution for Canada. The best way to do that was to create an entirely new entity – a 50/50 joint venture – with two leading air training Canadian companies. That led to the birth of SkyAlyne, a true collaboration to bring the best solution for the future, provided by a truly Canadian organization. The expertise that we possess – right here in Canada – is a real benefit to Canadians and the RCAF.

What are some of the top training challenges with the current programs?

PF: With any government program, the most important thing to taxpayers is cost. In Canada, we have some unique environmental challenges that drive the cost up, like the weather, flying below 40 degrees Celsius or above 40. This requires infrastructure, aircraft requirements, and personnel to operate in these extreme temperatures. Another challenge is timing. The NFTC program will expire in 2023, with an option year to 2024. The timeline to engineer the transition, planning, and infrastructure is a challenge that we and the government recognize, but we are ready to face it. With our ongoing programs, we are well situated to seamlessly make the transition for Canada.

If SkyAlyne is selected for the FAcT program, what are some of the capabilities that this joint venture will bring to the table?

PF: A key part in the lead up to FAcT will be to maintain the existing training programs while transitioning to the new program. We have the employees, technical and infrastructure base with the current programs and the ability to seamlessly move between the two. The most valuable resource is people and under NFTC and CFTS, we have a true core human resources capability of trained, qualified and professional people that work under these programs every day and are committed to the success of the pilot training program for the RCAF. Having these personnel is a real core capability for us to maintain the production of pilots while moving forward.

Can you share with us some of the lessons or takeaways from the CFTS program that you think would be important to incorporate into the FAcT program?

PF: The key lesson is the relationship. We didn't create this program and then offer it to the RCAF. We are here because of the RCAF and the Government of Canada. We are here to support them by understanding the culture and people and building on that by working closely with them to keep the program moving forward. This is truly a long-term relationship, like a marriage. We are here for 22 years under this contract and looking for another 25 years. So, it's a matter of establishing and maintaining that trust going forward. That's the only way you can get through these long-term complex contracts – building a good relationship.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us.

PF: Thank you very much for the opportunity. It's always a pleasure to speak about not only our current programs here in Southport, Manitoba and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan but also the future opportunities to continue supporting the Government of Canada with our exciting new joint venture of SkyAlyne.

To hear more about this topic listen to the podcast with Peter Fedak.

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    October 8, 2019 | Local, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    Analysis: With Canadians tuned out on defence, political parties can safely ignore the topic at election time

    By DAVID PUGLIESE, OTTAWA CITIZEN It's not much of a surprise that defence and security issues aren't a factor in this federal election. Despite the concerns of various commentators and analysts, the political parties can safely ignore those topics. Even though billions of dollars are to be spent on the future purchase of military equipment, and Canada is engaged in training missions in Ukraine, Latvia and Iraq, the average Canadian doesn't appear to care all that much about such topics. That doesn't mean that such a viewpoint is right. But it's typical of recent elections. The parties have touched briefly on defence and security in their platforms. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has noted he would improve relations with the U.S. and join the U.S. missile defence program. His government would buy new submarines and improve Arctic sovereignty. The Conservatives haven't discussed what it would cost to join the American missile defence system and there is no price tag for new submarines designed to operate in the Arctic. The subs, in particular, could be costly. In 2016 Australia announced its program to acquire 12 new subs with a price tag of $50 billion. Earlier this year Scheer vowed that a Conservative government would take the politics out of defence procurement, equipping the Canadian Forces with only what it needs. But even as he re-emphasized that point on the campaign trail, Scheer promised to order a second naval supply ship to be built at Davie shipyards in Quebec. While that would create jobs in the province and potentially generate support for the Conservatives, the leadership of the Royal Canadian Navy is adamant the second vessel is not needed. Liberal party defence promises have fewer details. Once again the Liberals have promised to increase support for the United Nations. But that's a repeat from the 2015 election campaign and many defence analysts point out that the Liberals didn't really deliver on that in their first mandate. There was the Canadian Forces mission to Mali, finished after only a year, and the assignment of a transport aircraft for UN use. But little else. The Liberals have a new promise to use the Canadian military's expertise for climate-related disasters, but again there are few details. They've also resurrected another of their 2015 election promises, which was to reform the defence procurement system. Little was done over the past several years to improve the system to purchase billions of dollars of military equipment. This time around the Liberals are promising to create a Defence Procurement Agency but it is unclear how that would be set up. The Green party has promised stable funding for military equipment and training, deployment of military personnel to deal with climate change disasters and pollution in the Arctic, to sign a treaty to abolish nuclear weapons and to cancel a deal with Saudi Arabia for light armoured vehicles. The NDP stated they would hold a fair competition for new fighter jets, keep shipbuilding procurement on time, stop the privatization of services at military bases and put more focus on peacekeeping. While defence and security issues are important, and can be costly to taxpayers, they don't seem to appear at the forefront of voter concerns. Most of the time they don't even register. Despite the thousands of words written and spoken by politicians and defence analysts about aging fighter jets, Canadians aren't marching in the streets to demand replacements for the RCAF's CF-18s. Scheer's promise to spend $1.5 billion to buy new medical imaging equipment for hospitals across Canada is more directly relevant to the average Canadian – who likely knows someone who has had to wait months for a MRI – than his promise to have Canada join the U.S. missile defence shield. The lack of interest by Canadians on defence matters has not been lost on politicians in power, particularly when they need to cut spending. By realizing that defence issues concerned only a small portion of the electorate, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper – who counted himself as a politician firmly behind the Canadian Forces – was able to chop the military's budget. At the heart of that issue is the lack of connection to and knowledge of the Canadian military by most Canadians. That was illustrated by a July 2018 report commissioned by the Department of National Defence which concluded that, “Awareness of and familiarity with the [Canadian Forces] was generally very low; virtually non-existent among those in the younger age group.” Only 26 per cent of those surveyed had some awareness of what the Canadian Forces had been doing over a year-and-a-half period. They couldn't even name what types of missions the military did at home, despite the high profile responses by the Canadian Forces to natural disasters such as floods and forest fires. Participants in the study were even surprised the learn the Canadian Forces operated in the Arctic. It's a situation that doesn't bode well for the future of the Canadian military.

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