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T-53A Kadet II (Cirrus SR20)

The Cirrus Aircraft T-53A is a small, single engine aircraft at the Academy that replaced the leased fleet of Diamond DA-40 T-52s in the spring of 2012. The Powered Flight Program is an academic program to integrate character training with flight operations to develop leadership and airmanship skills in future Air Force officers. It is not a pre-pilot training flight screening program. The value of the purchase is approximately $6.1 million. The T-53 is slightly larger than the T-52, and has a slightly higher horsepower engine. The first T-53 arrived on station in June 2011, and the last two of 25 arrived in May of 2012.

The aircraft selected was the Cirrus SR20, which was designated the T-53A. Sustainment will be through the existing Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) contract at Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center (OC-ALC). 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," Jon Dauplaise, Cirrus vice president of domestic sales, said. The Academy took delivery of the airplanes designated as T-53A trainers in the customized configuration starting the summer of 2011 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 inflight experience and is potentially the first step in an Air Force pilot career. We're confident that the cadets and their instructors will benefit from the SR20's latest-generation avionics, the largest and most comfortable cabin in this class of aircraft, docile handling, intuitive control characteristics and, perhaps most importantly, from the most advanced aviation safety features available today." Dauplaise added: "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."

"We've been studying the replacement of our existing trainer fleet since 2010," said Lt. Colonel Brad Oliver with the academy's 557th Flying Training Squadron. "The T-53A meets or exceeds all of our performance and operational criteria and is very well-suited to our mission. 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 more active and passive safety systems and features that are standard equipment on all Cirrus aircraft.

The Academy powered flight fleet consists of the Cirrus SR-20 (T-53A Kadet II), the Cessna 150 (T-51) the Cessna 172 (T-41 Mescalero). The T-53s represent the backbone of the Academy's Powered Flight training program in which over 500 cadets participate annually. The T-41s and T-51s are used exclusively by the Academy's Flying Team, a nationally recognized team of cadets who compete with other flight training schools throughout the United States.

Collectively, these aircraft use training areas to the northeast, east, and southeast of Colorado Springs. They also conduct flight pattern training at Bullseye Auxiliary Airfield (approximately 30 miles southeast of the Academy), Colorado Springs Airport and the Academy Airfield, which typically consists of multiple takeoffs and landings. The Academy adjusted it's powered flight flying pattern and opened an auxiliary airfield to mitigate public safety and noise concerns. Opening Bullseye Auxiliary Airfield, just north of Ellicott, will decrease air traffic over northern Colorado Springs, where many at the town hall reside.

In 2019 The Air Force determined a need for a T-53 Aircrew Training Device (ATD) at the USAF Academy (USAFA) for the purpose of training emergency procedures for instructor pilots (IPs). This solicitation was for the acquisition of one (1) commercially available non-developmental ATD that matches the configuration of the T-53 aircraft and meets or exceeds Advanced Aviation Training Device (AATD) criteria. The ATD shall be in place and ready for training no later than 12 months after contract award.

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Page last modified: 01-07-2021 17:55:31 ZULU