CAE was heading for another record year when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020.
True to its mission to help make the world a safer place, CAE took immediate, decisive action to protect the health and safety of its employees and customers. CAE employees supported customers' critical activities, either in person under difficult conditions or by providing resourceful alternatives.
CAE also played a humanitarian role throughout the pandemic, first in March 2020 by addressing the acute need for ventilators, essential life-saving medical equipment. CAE created a new ventilator design, achieved certification, signed a contract for 10,000 ventilators with the Government of Canada which it delivered in record time. The project protected the jobs of more than 500 CAE employees at the company’s St-Laurent headquarters, and helped maintain 3,000 jobs with CAE suppliers.
CAE's capacity for innovation did not stop there; the company launched several other initiatives to help in the fight against COVID-19. CAE assembled air purifiers, developed free online training materials for healthcare workers and led an initiative uniting more than 150 companies in the province of Quebec to open 27 vaccination hubs to help reduce pressure on the health system and help the economy. The CAE Montreal Vaccination Centre, the first hub to open, administered nearly 34,000 vaccine doses in its four months of activity and during the booster shot campaign.
On September 28, 2020, CAE proudly achieved the distinction of being the first Canadian aerospace company to reach the goal of carbon neutrality. To support a sustainable aviation industry, the company invests in the development of technologies and solutions for electric aircraft for pilot training purposes, setting the objective of modernizing its own fleet of trainer aircraft to reduce CAE’s carbon footprint and contribute to a greener world.
CAE also strengthened its position in all aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion through multiple internal and external awareness initiatives, actions recognized by its inclusion in the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index for four consecutive years (2019-22) and Silver certification by Women in Governance.
Confronted by sharp industry headwinds that demanded new thinking through this period of uncertainty, CAE took bold, strategic steps to pivot in all its businesses to support customers in innovative ways – embracing a new mission and vision focused on high technology and expansion into adjacent growth markets.
CAE leveraged capital markets for the first time in 18 years to strengthen its position in the civil aviation and defense sectors. The company raised $1.5 billion, enabling CAE to acquire nine companies since the start of the pandemic.
Civil aviation acquisitions over 2020-2022, including Merlot Aero Limited, RB Group and the AirCentre division of Sabre, extended CAE’s expertise beyond pilot training into the growing market for digital and flight and crew optimization and management.
With the addition of L3Harris Technologies’ Military Training business – the company’s largest acquisition ever – CAE doubled its U.S. defence presence to become the largest non-OEM training provider to the U.S. military and the world’s leading platform-agnostic global training and simulation pure play. With the integration of Medicor LAB, CAE extended its healthcare product range and considerably improved the realism of its simulators.
In July 2021, CAE announced that it will invest $1 billion in innovation over the next five years. This commitment will position CAE as a leader in high technology, operational support, advanced healthcare technologies and training solutions for the promising new market of advanced air mobility (AAM). To date, Jaunt Air Mobility, BETA Technologies and Volocopter have chosen CAE as their training partner.
When Kenneth R. Patrick founded CAE 75 years ago, his goal was to create an “extremely innovative and very technology-intensive" company.
By playing both strong defence and offence, emphasizing its high-tech culture and continuing to play a social role, CAE is emerging into the post-COVID-19 world stronger and well positioned in its key industries.