CAE and Eastern Provincial Airways staff with the new EPA 737-200 flight simulator at the factory early in 1976 during final approval and acceptance. (Ed Bermingham)
The cockpit of the EPA 737-200 simulator during approval at CAE in 1976. (Ed Bermingham)
In the 1970s CAE remained a tiny competitor in the flight simulator world dominated by such giants as Link in the United States and Redifon in the UK. Nonetheless, CAE was winning a few contracts and already had a reputation for delivering high-quality products.
Initially introduced in Canada by Nordair in 1968, the Boeing 737-200 soon was delivering outstanding service and profits to Canadian operators — CPAir, EPA, Nordair, PWA and Transair.
So far there was no 737 “flight sim” in Canada, but the 737 was gaining in popularity, so training demands were increasing. Finally, in 1975 CAE won a contract to supply Halifax-based Eastern Provincial Airlines with a 737-200 full flight simulator to train its pilots.
EPA 737-200ss CF-EPO and CF-EPP at Wabush in 1975. (Larry Milberry)
CF-EPL landing at Toronto. Two of these three 737s since have “gone for pots and pans”, while CF-EPP was wrecked while landing at Gander in 2001. Even though nearly all the early Canadian 737-200s by now are long since retired, the ancient CAE/EPA sim on which hundreds of 737-200 pilots trained since 1976 remains in daily use. (Larry Milberry)
Unless Canadian operators were doing sim training in the US, pilot training and qualification upgrades mainly still were being done expensively in the airplanes as “OJT” — on the job training. Having its own sim instantly enhanced training at EPA. Delivered early in 1976, the sim remained in Halifax at least into 1984. Other 737 operators bought time on it, so it turned into a valuable cash cow for EPA.
In 1984 EPA was sold to Canadian Airlines International of Vancouver. Some time thereafter, EPA’s 737 sim was shipped across Canada to Vancouver.
The 1976-model CAE Boeing 737-200 flight simulator as it sits today in the Air Canada training centre at Vancouver. Note that it remains in its vintage Canadian Airline International colour scheme. (A.T. Jarvis)
The present day cockpit. Note that the basic instrumentation remains, but how numerous improvements have been added (compare with the original version above). (A.T. Jarvis)
The old-fashioned looking instructor’s station in today’s sim. Clunky, but it works. (A.T. Jarvis)
Photo Gallery: Canada’s Historic 737-200 Fleet
This series of photos illustrates some of the many airlines whose pilots have trained since 1976 on this reliable old piece of CAE technology.
Canada’s first Boeing 737 was Nordair’s CF-NAB. This historic 737 soon was serving points from the High Arctic to the tropics. 737 operations on ice were pioneered by Nordair. Sadly, “NAB” is long gone — who would ever dream of saving such a valuable piece of Canadian air transport history, right! (All, Larry Milberry)
CP Air 737 C-GCPT landing at Vancouver in September 1986.
Transair 737 CF-TAO at Toronto on January 5, 1974.
NWT Air 737 C-GNWT waits at Winnipeg on November 14, 1990 for its next DEW Line re-supply mission. NWT Air today is part of FirstAir, whose 737-200 pilots still train on the famous old CAE sim in Vancouver.
NWT eventually was sold to Air Canada, so adopted the new owner’s fleet colours. These NWT Air 737-200s were at Yellowknife on August 18, 1995 (C-GNWN nearest).
Pacific Western Airlines was a major Canadian 737-200 operator, which also trained pilots in the EPA sim over the years. Here, C-GJPW waits at Edmonton “Muni” on May 17, 1987.
Canadian North uses the Air Canada/CAE 737-200 sim. Here C-GDPA 737-200 (formerly of Dome Petroleum) arrives at “YFB” Iqaluit on a February 2006 quick turn-around from Ottawa bound for Rankin Inlet and Yellowknife.
RCAF Commits to the Most Advanced in Simulation Training
To give a sense of the depth in technology development in simulation training today, check out this recent item from Defence News: “Canada Setting the Scene for Future Pilot Training Program”. It discusses where Canada’s air force is going in simulation training, when considering such fleets as the CH-147F Chinook, CC-117 Globemaster III and CC-130J Super Hercules.
For the broader history about the evolution of flight simulation, order yourself a copy of Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story, 2015’s blockbuster aviation book of the year.