Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC

TWO MAJOR US universities are in the final stages of selecting manufacturers to replace their fleets of training aircraft. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University wants to replace the 103 aircraft at its Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona, campuses over five years, while the University of North Dakota (UND) plans to renew its 87-aircraft training fleet over the next three to four years.

Cessna and New Piper Aircraft are the leading candidates in both competitions, although UND says it has received bids from Socata, as well as Diamond and Mooney. Both universities last renewed their fleets in the late 1980s/early 1990s, when only the Piper and Socata aircraft were available. UND's fleet largely consists of Pipers, while Embry-Riddle operates a mix of mainly Piper and Socata aircraft.

Cessna is offering its 172R Skyhawk in competition with New Piper's Warrior, as well as the Socata Tampico and Diamond Katana, for the universities' piston-single primary-trainer requirements. New Piper is also offering its Seminole piston-twin, presumably in competition with Socata's Tangara. Cessna does not have a competing piston-twin.

UND plans to buy the first eight to ten aircraft in 1997 and says it may not replace its fleet one-for-one. The university is hoping for scheduling efficiencies which will increase utilisation and help it offset the higher cost of new aircraft by buying fewer of them. All of its new trainers will be equipped with the global-positioning system.

Both Embry-Riddle and UND report that their intake of students for courses involving flight training has increased this year, after five years of falling enrolments.

Source: Flight International