Friday, December 28, 2018

Southern Illinois University Carbondale to get over $2 million in new training aircraft



CARBONDALE — SIU Carbondale’s aviation programs will be upgrading their teaching fleet with over $2 million in new aircraft.

The university has approved the purchase of five new Cessna 172 planes, which will replace eight older aircraft that are becoming outdated and expensive to maintain, according to Mike Burgener, the department chair of SIUC’s aviation programs.

“It’s just a matter of modernizing the fleet,” Burgener said. “Some of these planes are over 40 years old, and they have a lot of hours on them.”

The aviation programs have been planning the $2,139,000 purchase for multiple years, according to Judy Marshall, SIUC’s chief budget officer. The planes will be bought outright, no loans necessary, and will be paid for entirely by student flight fees, which aviation students pay to sustain the programs.

“These planes are really purchased by the students,” Burgener said. “They pay the fees to have the equipment, and it’s our duty to provide the best aircraft possible.”

Flight fees aren’t cheap. They range from $3,000 to $5,000 for most classes, and can exceed $10,000 for others, according to SIUC’s website.

But those fees are necessary to keep the program running, Burgener explained, covering fuel, one-on-one flight instruction and constant equipment upgrades, which the aviation programs plan out as much as 10 years in advance.

“We’re tracking engine replacement timetables, propeller change times; We have a schedule so we can accurately project the funds we’ll need in a particular year,” Burgener explained. “Once we have these aircraft squared away, we’ll begin upgrading our twin engine fleet,” consisting of bigger and even costlier planes.

The Cessnas set to be purchased are four-seat, single-engine planes, which cruise at about 140 miles per hour. At SIUC they are used in private pilot certification courses, instrument certifications, and for single-engine time building, Burgener explained.

The university hopes to order the planes soon after the new year, and could begin to receive them as soon as early 2020, Burgener said.

“Cessna builds them as the orders come in,” he explained, directly to the university’s specifications, including adding an autopilot feature that should allow the planes to be used in a broader array of classes.

Though it’s a big expenditure in the short term, upgrading planes ultimately allows the university to lower students’ flight fees, Burgener said, because new planes are much lower maintenance.

Interest in SIUC’s aviation programs continues to grow, with enrollment up across all three of aviation majors this fall, even as the university’s total enrollment dropped 11.9 percent.

“There’s unprecedented demand right now for pilots and aircraft maintenance technicians,” Burgener said. “Airlines are here constantly, recruiting our students.”

That includes offering SIUC students pathway-to-hire programs that guarantee them a job at an airline upon graduation, Burgener explained. SIUC Aviation currently has such programs in place with four airlines, and aviation students' employment rate after graduation is “close to 100 percent,” he said.

“There are good careers in high demand, and it’s important to show students that,” Burgener said. “If a student wants to be an airline captain, going through a university program and getting a degree is what most airlines require.”

Original article can be found here ➤ https://thesouthern.com

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

$ 400,000 for a C172 ... Thank your favorite attorney.