See the latest information on how CAE is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

1970s - Product expansion

In the 70s, world airlines were hit hard by fuel shortages, environmental pressures, and government regulations. All these factors increased the airlines' need to train flight crews on simulators. The resulting business and CAE's approach of designing each simulator to a customer's specific needs generated substantial technological breakthroughs in control loading, motion systems, instructor consoles, and the diagnostics of complex software.

The company continued to emphasize its capabilities in the SCADA field where there were growing requirements from the power utilities. In this decade, CAE was able to break into three new product areas: power plant training simulators, space programs, and Air Traffic Control (ATC) systems. 

By the end of the decade the company had received a significant number of commercial and military flight simulator orders, had augmented its market share in the SCADA, MAD, and space fields, and had added three plant extensions and expanded its workforce to over 1,400 people. 


Four wide bodied commercial aircraft simulator orders were received. Notably, the British Airways Boeing 747 was the first unit to use a dual general purpose computer complex employing shared memory. This simulator featured a unique 4-degree of freedom motion system designed by CAE.

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), designer of the CANDU nuclear reactor, selected CAE to develop and manufacture a Direct Computer Control (DCC) system which would monitor and control all the major reactor and power plant functions of Ontario Hydro's Bruce 'A' plants.

This same year the name of the Montreal based electronics division of CAE Industries Ltd. was incorporated under the name, CAE Electronics Ltd., a change that would last until the year 2001.


CAE's 6 degree of freedom motion system was rapidly gaining a global reputation for its fidelity and reliability, resulting in other simulator manufacturers ordering CAE's systems to meet their customers' demands. LMT (now Thompson CSF) acquired two motion systems, one of which was used on the Concorde simulator. Goodyear Aerospace also purchased motion systems for use on the USAF's F 15 simulators.


Mr. N. Byron Cavadias assumed the management of CAE, redirecting the company's efforts towards the creation and assertive development of new market. Under his direction CAE embarked upon an extended period of steady growth. New product ideas were encouraged, eventually to result in the sale of Integrated Machinery Control Systems (IMCS), Fiber Optic Helmet Mounted Display (FOHMD) systems, and space program devices. His aim was to keep the company at the forefront of technology and garner a reputation for quality, and excellence.

The year also marked CAE's entry into a new frontier with a contract to develop a CANDU power plant training simulator for Ontario Hydro's Pickering 'A' plant. Success with this first project prompted the utility to order four additional simulators. CAE also entered the ATC market with an order from the Canadian Ministry of Transport to supply Canada's seven operational area control centres with nine radar data processing and display systems collectively known as the Joint En-route/Terminal System (JETS). The experience gained in software modularity and testing through the JETS program led to CAE's own approach to traceability in control software and simulation software design. The JETS program was completed in 1980.


Projects under contract included mechanized postal equipment for Canada Post Corporation and three new commercial simulators. The company adopted an aggressive attitude in pursuing flight simulator contracts, typified by its advertising slogan: "CAE - We make things happen".


The mid-point of the decade was ushered in when Fokker-VFW BV of the Netherlands ordered a crew training simulator with a visual system for its F28 twin jet aircraft. This project enabled CAE became the first in the simulation field to implement a low-friction hydrostatic flight control-loading system with accurate digital/analog technology.

Efforts were also directed towards international military flight simulator markets. The company's moves in this area were rewarded when the Federal Republic of Germany ordered three helicopter simulators: an Mk 4 Sea King and two Sikorsky CH-53Gs. The company also received an order from Iran to manufacture a Boeing-Vertol CH-47C simulator with a CAE-designed model-board visual system.


CAE's contracts with the Federal Republic of Germany also resulted in a major military deal to develop and manufacture a prototype simulator for the Tornado Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA). In 1979, this contract was extended to include six additional simulators, and in 1980, two similar units were ordered by the Italian Air Force. The Tornado project enabled CAE to develop advanced technologies in the area of full-mission simulation such as: G-systems for motion cueing, methods of harmonizing visual systems and digital radar landmass systems with on-board mission computers, radar systems, and the introduction of weapon delivery systems. The Tornado represented the first of a new generation of combat simulators, able to realistically reproduce actual wartime combat situations.

CAE was awarded its first space-related contract from SPAR Aerospace Limited to develop the SIMFAC simulator.This simulator was used to evaluate the Remote Manipulator System (RMS - also known as the Canadarm) and to train astronauts on its use. CAE also supplied control systems for the RMS. Each system consisted of a display and control panel with interface electronics, and two 3 degree of freedom hand controllers. The first system was a development model, while the others were to be used in actual space flight. One of these flew aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in November 1981.

The company also secured a substantial military contract to develop and manufacture eight UH-1D helicopter simulators for the Federal Republic of Germany. These were the world's first rotary-wing flight training simulators to make use of the 6 degree of freedom motion systems. When the completed units were delivered in 1975, CAE was firmly entrenched as a world leader in helicopter simulation.


Commercial simulator business picked up with four signed contracts. Trans World Airlines (TWA) became CAE's first U.S. commercial airline customer and the South American market was penetrated with a sale to Viasa.

CAE made a breakthrough enabling it to introduce the use of FORTRAN as the real time high level language for simulation software on 32 bit computers. The switch from Assembler to FORTRAN eased the task of maintaining and debugging simulation software.


The decade of the 70s wound down with the company winning seven contracts. Orders were placed by Morocco for a C-130 Hercules military transport simulator and two AB 205 helicopter simulators. The Canadian Armed Forces also ordered a flight deck simulator and an operation mission simulator for their CP-140 long-range patrol aircraft.

A major accomplishment in the avionics field was the introduction of CAE's Fully Automated Compensation System (FACS). This system automatically compensated up to 16 terms. The Canadian Armed Forces was the first customer to order 18 systems for installation on CP-140 aircraft. Interest in FACS lead to the U.S. Navy assigning CAE to develop a device which could be adapted to the 9-term compensators previously installed on their P-3C and S-2A aircraft. The Compensator Group Adapters (CGA) semi-automated the old systems, and installation of 700 units began the following year.

SCADA sales continued to advance with Hydro Québec purchasing a system for their James Bay site, the largest hydroelectric generating station in the world.


The aerospace industry continued to grow, and CAE captured 50% of the world's commercial flight simulator market. The year's highest was CAE's delivery of the first fully hydrostatic motion system. This system is still unchallenged in terms of frequency response and reliability.

Of the nine commercial flight simulator orders confirmed, the sale to TOA Domestic Airlines marked CAE's first simulator sale to Japan.

A space-related study contract was awarded by NASA to examine the feasibility of combining the two 3-axis hand controllers into a single device for one-handed control of the manipulator arm. Two years later, CAE successfully demonstrated the new 6-axis hand controller. In 1984, NASA ordered three systems.

A nuclear training simulator was purchased by Ontario Hydro for their Bruce 'A' station, and three SCADA systems were ordered by utilities for installation in North America and in Europe. Successful bids were made for the Cirene nuclear generating station project in Italy, and for the Darlington facility in Ontario. The third order was initiated by Hydro-Quebec for its La Citiere gas turbine power generating station.