SUU Boosts Aviation Program with Purchase of Ten New Planes

Published: March 07, 2017 | Read Time: 2 minutes

Plane flying over Lake PowellSouthern Utah University is advancing its aviation program with the purchase of ten new planes from Cirrus Aircraft expected to begin arriving in June. The fleet of Thunderbird-red, fixed-wing planes features the Cirrus SR20 - a technologically advanced, easy-to-fly modern training platform that will prepare both flight instructors and students to fly tomorrow’s commercial airliners, military and general aviation aircraft.

The SR20 offers a durable airframe designed to handle rigorous training programs and is the only single-engine plane to come equipped with the life-saving Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) as standard equipment. Designed to lower the airplane safely to the ground in the event of an emergency, CAPS is revolutionary to airplane safety. In its class, the SR20 also features the latest in cockpit technologies, maximum cabin size and visibility, and instrument training systems designed to prepare students for flying more advanced aircraft.

“Globally, the aviation industry is expanding rapidly and the demand for qualified pilots is high,” said SUU President Scott L Wyatt. “The addition of the Cirrus aircraft will elevate our program by offering the most advanced and safest training available in the world.”

According to SUU chief fixed-wing flight instructor Neal Donahue, the university’s aviation program is poised for growth. SUU’s fixed-wing program expects a 300 percent increase by fall semester, 2017. The recent announcement of a partnership with SkyWest has vitalized enrollment.

“With a SkyWest mentor specifically assigned to SUU students, we are beginning to see our students moving into professional pilot careers and it’s very exciting,” said Donahue.

The strategic partnership between SUU and SkyWest is designed to leverage the unique resources of each entity with the goal of creating industry-leading career options for prospective pilots. For SUU students entering the Pilot Pathway Program, SkyWest Airlines provides tuition reimbursement and other resources to guide students on their way to beginning careers as SkyWest Airlines first officers.

“Our agreement with SkyWest puts graduates immediately into the cockpit in a sought after, exciting career,” Wyatt said. “And with the addition of these new planes, our aviation program will be the best in our region and the nation.”

Regarding capacity for continued growth, “we may become limited by the amount of airspace surrounding Cedar City,” said Mike Mower, executive director of SUU Aviation. “We are currently exploring options at other airports in the area to help alleviate air traffic issues that will likely arise in the next few years.” 

“This purchase further cements SUU as a premier flight training school,” said Mower, “SUU is recognized for preparing students for 21st Century flight careers with fundamental airmanship and instrument skill training in collaboration with a premier regional airline.”

Due to arrive June 3 are the fleet’s first four planes, followed by three in July, and three in August. For more information about SUU Aviation, or to inquire about the SkyWest Pilot Pathway Program, contact (435) 586-7862.

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