Aviation

FlightSafety restores all training for Cessna customers after King Air crash

A King Air airplane crashed into the FlightSafety Cessna Pilot Center in late October.
A King Air airplane crashed into the FlightSafety Cessna Pilot Center in late October. File photo

A FlightSafety official said this week that all of the training programs that had been offered at the Cessna Pilot Learning Center have been restored, following the October crash of a King Air airplane into one of the center’s buildings at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, now named Eisenhower National.

In a statement e-mailed to The Eagle Wednesday, FlightSafety spokesman Steve Phillips said the company’s primary concern has been with the people affected by the crash, and then the resumption of training that the center offered.

“As we said just after the accident occurred, our focus is on all those who were impacted and restoring the training programs,” Phillips said in the e-mail. “Our customers now have access to the training they need at our Learning Center located at 9720 East Central Avenue in Wichita, or at those in Orlando (Fla.), San Antonio (Texas), and Farnborough (England).”

He added in the statement that no decision has been made whether to rebuild the center’s north building that was damaged in the crash.

On Oct. 30, a Beechcraft King Air B200 crashed into the roof of the FlightSafety center’s north building shortly after takeoff from Mid-Continent. Pilot Mark Goldstein was killed along with three other people who were inside a Cessna Caravan simulator at the center.

Six others were injured in the crash, including two seriously, according to a preliminary report issued on Nov. 6 by the National Transportation Safety Board.

An NTSB spokesman said Wednesday that the crash remains an ongoing investigation.

The other FlightSafety facilities at the airport were not damaged.

The center at 1851 S. Airport Road provides training on a range of Cessna Citation business jets and Caravan airplanes. It said on its website that training at the center is on schedule for the Sovereign, Sovereign-Plus, Citation X, Citation X-Plus, Encore, Encore-Plus, Caravan, and CJ3 business jets.

Training for other Cessna aircraft – Caravan G600, Caravan G1000, Citation XLS-Plus, Citation XLS, Citation Mustang, Citation VII, Citation M2, Citation CJ3-Plus and Citation CJ4 – is being offered at the other sites Phillips noted in his statement.

Phillips said in a phone call Wednesday that the October crash “was a very sad and tragic event” and that FlightSafety wouldn’t comment further on the Cessna Learning Center beyond the e-mailed statement.

A Textron Aviation Cessna spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that all of the center’s training has been restored for Cessna customers, but deferred further comment to FlightSafety.

There is no doubt that the accident caused a major disruption to the center’s training schedules and time in flight simulators, said aviation consultant Rolland Vincent.

Vincent said in some instances the training that FlightSafety offers to customers of companies such as Cessna is “critical” to an airplane manufacturer hitting its quarterly airplane delivery numbers. Those customers or their pilots may have to get a little or a lot of training on the aircraft they are purchasing. And typically customers and airplane manufacturers like to get those pilots the necessary training before the airplanes are delivered.

Vincent said it could be that the training occurred after delivery and on the airplanes themselves, instead of simulators, or FlightSafety found a “workaround” among its other training centers in Wichita, across the country or overseas.

It’s likely “very creative and capable people were put to task to figure that out,” Vincent said.

FlightSafety has Cessna learning centers housed in three buildings at Mid-Continent. Its new maintenance center – which has 15 classrooms, four engine labs, an avionics laboratory and a hangar – opened in 2013. Bombardier Learjet has a combined pilot-training and maintenance-training center at the airport. And Beechcraft has a pilot-training center and a maintenance-training center in east Wichita.

In Cessna’s case, Vincent said, it doesn’t appear that its delivery schedules were harmed last year by the training disruption.

“The numbers are flowing in and it looks like they (Cessna) accomplished their delivery targets for the year,” Vincent said.

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jsiebenmark.

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