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UND flight school to add to fleet

GRAND FORKS -- UND's flight school is adding another six planes to its fleet as part of a big ramp-up in the fleet size.

Once the John D. Odegaard School of Aerospace Sciences receives the new Cessna 172 Skyhawks, it will have a total of 140 planes and simulators in its inventory, extension programs Director Don Dubuque said. In the past fiscal year, UND had only 127 planes and simulators.

There simply has been more training hours because of more students, he said. That increase is coming from contract training for companies in China and Japan, he said. Undergrad student pilots, he said, have seen a slight enrollment drop because of the amount of financial aid available.

Last fiscal year, UND's flight school logged 115,000 hours compared with this year's projected 125,000, Dubuque said. He said if the pace continues, the university may well exceed the projection.

Asked how UND ended up picking Cessna, Dubuque said that company has had a good relationship with the university and offered a very "aggressive" package that included competitive pricing and scholarships.

Piper and Cirrus Design, which has a plant in Grand Forks, also competed but didn't match Cessna's offer, he said.

Asked if UND was replacing some aircraft it might have lost in accidents in recent months -- there have been some tricky landings and one crash -- Dubuque said only one aircraft could not be repaired. The new Cessnas, he said, are simply replacements for older planes. UND changes planes every eight years to keep its fleet updated, he said.