Air Force Academy Finally Finds Training Solution

The Air Force has selected Diamond Aircraft to provide the aircraft and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to provide instruction for an initial training program for cadets at its Colorado Springs Academy. Under the terms of the contract, the Academy will lease a fleet of specially modified Continental-powered Diamond DA-20C1s. The fleet will start out at 14 aircraft and grow to 35 by the end of next year. For its part, Embry-Riddle will provide 50 hours of training for cadets, leading to a private pilot's license.

The Academy suspended its training program four years ago after a spate of engine failures and a trio of fatal crashes with the former trainer, the Slingsby T-3 Firefly. The academy essentially mothballed the Slingsby trainers, saying that it had been unable to find a satisfactory solution to the airplane's engine stoppage problems.

To meet the terms of the new contract, Diamond modified the C1's instrument panel so the command seat is on the right, allowing cadets to fly with their right hand on the stick and left hand on the throttle, added more fuel capacity and increased the headroom in the cockpit to better accommodate taller pilots.

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