The new company recently awarded a contract to provide fixed wing flight training for students at Fort Rucker is moving forward with plans to build a new training center at Dothan Regional Airport, despite a new complaint challenging the contract that is still working its way through federal court.
CAE spokesperson Chris Stellwag said Friday that the company has engaged an architect and begun the process of designing simulators and ordering aircraft for its planned training facility.
“We are under contract and we are performing on the contract now,” Stellwag said. “We have an obligation under the contract to have a new training facility built and operational by next year and that is what we plan to do.”
CAE was initially awarded the fixed wing training contract June 3, 2015. It had previously been held for several years by FlightSafety International. FlightSafety and another company competing for the contract, URS, immediately filed protests. They were dismissed Sept. 11 of last year, according to the Government Accountability Office. The contract was awarded again in early March and FlightSafety filed another challenge on March 15 in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Additionally, FlightSafety filed a motion for a preliminary injunction which, if granted, would have halted the contract. However, Senior Federal Claims Court Judge Edward Damich denied the motion.
The renewed court challenge, however, remains. Most filings in the case are sealed because the companies claim the filings include proprietary information. According to a scheduling order, the United States government and CAE have until May 5 to respond to the complaint. The United States is a defendant in the case because the U.S. Department of Defense awarded the contract.
A local announcement had been tentatively scheduled for the end of March or early April, but the most recent FlightSafety complaint delayed the announcement. It is not known when a formal announcement will take place.
The training consists of 140 students from the Army for the C-12 Aviator Qualification Course, 60 students for the C-12 Instructor Pilot Course, and 273 students for the C-12 refresher course. The contract also calls for the training of 44 Air Force students for the aviator course, 22 for the instructor course and 68 for the refresher course.
Although CAE is moving forward with its obligations under the contract, performance could be halted again if FlightSafety is successful with its complaint. The back-and-forth nature of the award and the challenges in court leaves about 100 current FlightSafety employees in limbo.
CAE employs about 8,000 people at 160 training locations around the world. It is based in Canada. FlightSafety employs 1,800 professional instructors alone and offers training courses for pilots, technicians, flight attendants and dispatchers. It has been owned by Berkshire Hathaway since 1996.