Cirrus Aircraft has received a vote of confidence from the U.S. Air Force in the form of a fleet order for 25 single-engine SR20s for the Air Force Academy's cadet training program. The Academy will take delivery of the airplanes — designated as T-53A trainers in the customized configuration — starting this summer and continuing through 2012.
"We're honored to have been chosen by the Air Force Academy for its airmanship training requirements," said Jon Dauplaise, Cirrus vice president of domestic sales. "The Academy's Powered Flight Program gives its cadets tremendous in-flight experience and is potentially the first step in an Air Force pilot career.”
The contract is notable because it comes on the heels of Cirrus’s sale to CAIGA, a large Chinese aircraft manufacturing consortium. "This fleet of new aircraft confirms the U.S. Air Force's confidence in Cirrus and is another notable step forward in the growth of our global training aircraft efforts," Dauplaise said.
Lt. Colonel Brad Oliver with the academy's 557th Flying Training Squadron said the Air Force had been studying potential trainer fleet replacement aircraft for more than a year. "The T-53A meets or exceeds all of our performance and operational criteria and is very well-suited to our mission,” he said. “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."
Each aircraft delivered to the Air Force Academy 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 and features.
The value of the purchase is approximately $6.1 million. The new fleet of T-53A trainers will be based at the Academy Airfield in Colorado Springs, Colorado.