July 6, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
Duluth, Minn.-based Cirrus Aircraft has issued a statement confirming that it will sell 25 SR20 aircraft to the U.S. Air Force Academy at a total price tag of $6.1 million.
The academy's Powered Flight Program will receive the aircraft, designated as T-53A trainers in a customized configuration, starting this summer continuing through 2012, the company said. The aircraft will be based at the academy’s airfield in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The academy had studied replacing its trainer fleet since 2010, said Lt. Col. Brad Oliver of the academy's 557th Flying Training Squadron.
“The T-53A meets or exceeds all of our performance and operational criteria and is very well suited to our mission. And, while we hope never to have need of it, our cadets and instructors will now have the option of pulling the 'chute' if it's needed,” he said.
Cirrus said each aircraft delivered will be equipped with the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), airbag seatbelts, integrated fuselage roll cage, cuffed wing design, Cirrus Perspective by Garmin avionics, and other active and passive safety systems that are standard equipment on Cirrus aircraft.
Jon Dauplaise, Cirrus vice president of domestic sales described the sale as “another notable step forward in the growth of our global training aircraft efforts.”
On March 18 AOPA reported that competitor Diamond Aircraft protested the elimination of its DA20 from consideration by the Air Force over doubt about some performance figures. The aircraft is in use in other Air Force training programs.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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