September 22, 2011

Afghan air force receives first three Cessna planes

Ferry pilots from Aviation Dynamix delivered the first three Cessna 182T aircraft to the Afghan Air Force on Sunday.

Ferry pilots from Aviation Dynamix delivered the first three Cessna 182T aircraft to the Afghan Air Force on Sunday.

The pilots flew more than 50 hours on the trip to Shindand, Afghanistan, said Sarah Grosvenor, Aviation Dynamix operations manager.

Pilots will leave this week to deliver another three Cessna 182 Turbos.

The single-engine aircraft will be used for initial flight training.

Eventually, Aviation Dynamix will deliver another 26 208B Caravans to Afghanistan.

"There's just been a lot of preparation in getting things ready for the pilots to be eligible and able to go over to Afghanistan and have the clearance to go on a U.S. Air Force base," Grosvenor said. "The amount of planning and preparation that's gone into these flights has been unlike any other ferry that we've done."

Before leaving for Afghanistan, the aircraft are fitted with ferry tanks to carry extra fuel to make the 9- to 10-hour flights across the ocean, Grosvenor said.

They're also outfitted with life rafts, survival suits, snacks and drinks.

Wichita-based Aviation Dynamix ferries airplanes, trains pilots, accepts delivery of aircraft for clients, manages aircraft and consults those needing help choosing the right airplane.

Cessna awarded the contract in June to Aviation Dynamix for delivery of the 32 planes to Afghanistan.

"It's a nice contract to win and be a part of this effort," Grosvenor said.

Cessna is building the planes under an $88.5 million firm-fixed-price contract with the U.S. Air Force.

The contract with Cessna also included interim contractor support for aircraft and training devices in Afghanistan and adviser training.

Afghan and U.S. Air Force officials called the arrival of the first three airplanes a milestone for the Afghan Flight School.

"Six years ago, we had nothing, and today, we are receiving our first three training aircraft," Maj. Gen. Abdul Wahab Wardak, the Afghan air force commander, said at a ceremony commemorating the planes' arrival on Sunday, the Air Force News said. "I once looked out to see our air force scattered across Afghanistan; today, we have brought our air force back together here at Shindand (Air Base) —the only air force training base in Afghanistan."

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