Southern Illinois University Grows Aviation Program Fleet

The university’s aviation program is set to take delivery of seven new Cessna 172s this week.

With the addition of new 172s, the number of aircraft available to the students climbs to 47. [Courtesy: Southern Illinois University]

The aircraft fleet at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is about to get a little bigger. University officials announced that this week—weather permitting—they will be taking delivery of seven glass cockpit Cessna 172s.

The aircraft are slated to be ferried from Independence, Kansas, to Southern Illinois Airport (KMDH). Several SIU aviation program officials, including director José R. Ruiz and chief flight instructor Steven Goetz, along with several flight instructors, will be on hand to welcome the new aircraft.

“I am very excited at the prospect of acquiring seven new flight training aircraft because of the impact the new additions will have on our ability to serve our students,” Ruiz said. “Our students deserve the finest flight training available, and these new aircraft will assist us in meeting that expectation.”

According to Goetz, there were more than 350 students enrolled in the aviation flight program in the Fall of 2022, and he expects that number to increase in 2023. With the new additions the number of aircraft available to the students climbs to 47. 

Goetz noted that the fleet includes airplanes that rolled off the assembly line in the 1970s, and continuous maintenance and upgrades keep the aircraft airworthy.

“We use every bit of life out of them in order to make sure that we are being good stewards of our students’ money,” Goetz explains. “As the aviation industry grows, we have more and more demand for pilots and for flight training. Being able to bring on new airplanes that will allow our students to train on a modern flight deck and prepare for their careers better positions us to support the needs of the aviation industry in the nation.”

SIU Aviation has several aviation majors including aviation flight, aviation management, and aviation technologies.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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