French Air Force and Navy buy Cirrus planes for training pilots
Duluth News Tribune
Last year, a fleet of Cirrus planes was sold to the U.S. Air Force Academy for training pilots. This year, fleets are going to the French Air Force and Navy.
“This is good, this is growth,” said Todd Simmons, a Cirrus spokesman. “We have the best four-seat airplane in the world. In retail, we’re the dominant player. Now we’re seeing expansion of sales in the training
Through Cassidian Aviation Training Services, a global vendor, the French Air Force and Navy are buying 23 Cirrus single-engine prop planes for training its pilots, Duluth-based Cirrus Aircraft announced last week.
“This is the way it’s done around the world,” Simmons explained. “The military buys through a subcontractor. Cassidian is a subcontractor.”
A fleet of 13 SR-20s will be used at the French Air Force base of Salon de Provence. Three more SR-20s will be used by students of the Ecole Navale at the naval air station of Lanveoc Poulmic. And seven SR-22s will be used
for training flights of future navigators and to prepare officers for liaison flights that will include accompanying the French Air Force’s aerobatic team.
Cirrus planes — with their modern technology and full-plane parachute systems — will be used to teach French military pilots the basic skills needed for flying military planes later.
“These are training aircraft, they are not defense aircraft,” Simmons stressed. “They’re being used to train people who will have future roles in the Air Force using armed airplanes.”
Deliveries of the planes, which began Aug. 9, will continue through the end of 2012. Cassidian will maintain the fleets.
In Asia, a fleet of 20 Cirrus planes also are being used to train pilots at the Civil Aviation Flight University of China, which ordered 20 SR-20s last November. With four campuses and 8,000 students studying civil aviation and related subjects, it’s the largest flight university in the world.
“We’re now being preferred wherever training is in play,” Simmons said. “This is the best kind of growth. It’s sales made overseas that come back to us, particularly in Duluth.”
The recent purchase of 23 Cirrus planes by the French Air Force and Navy is the light airplane manufacturer’s latest venture into the international training fleet market, Simmons said.
The deal follows the deliveries of 25 Cirrus SR-20 planes, designated T-53A trainers, for the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Powered Flight Program in Colorado Springs, Colo.