SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) - Students at SIUC’s Aviation Program will soon take to the skies in brand new Cessna 172s.
Flight instructors with the program said these won’t look much different than the models from the 1970s and 80s they currently use from the outside, but in the cockpit, there will be some major upgrades.
According to Department Chair, Mike Burgener, the program hasn’t gotten any new Cessna’s in over half a decade. Although they did get three Piper Arrows back in Spring.
Money for new planes, fuel, and everything else students need is generated in house through student fees, so these planes aren’t costing the University system any money.
“It’s our duty to make sure we are giving them their money’s worth and that includes that they have the aircraft they pay for,” Burgener said.
Chief Flight Instructor, Ken Bro, says these five new aircraft will replace eight of the old ones. Not that there’s anything wrong with what they have now aside from age.
“Our old aircraft are just fine, you know they’re maintained to the highest standard,” he said, “we trust our students in them, I trust myself in them, but the technology is out of date.”
Inside the old model Cessna’s looks a little retro, with round dials taking up the flight deck.
Bro said the new planes will be outfitted with digital glass screens that will display the same information, but because it’s digital, the instruments can work and “think” together to help the pilot fly.
Right now, Bro says they have a couple Cessnas with upgraded flight decks, but not enough to consistently teach students how to use them.
What they don’t have is planes with an autopilot feature, which all the new aircraft will have.
Teaching students how to use new technology is the critical learning point for students according to Bro.
“A modern flight deck is different than it was 40 years ago,” he said. "Now our students can really learn how to fly the type of equipment that they will be flying when they get their first job.”
The new planes are in the process of being ordered right now and are estimated to arrive early 2020, according to Burgener.