Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Cessna Trains Pilots in Order to Sell Planes

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Cessna Trains Pilots in Order to Sell Planes

Article excerpt

WICHITA, Kan. (UPI) - One thing Cessna Aircraft Co. has learned in 57 years is: ""Without pilots, you don't sell an awful lot of aircraft.''

Since 1946, the manufacturer of single-engine planes, multi-engine aircraft, propjets and business jets has offered accredited instruction for people seeking private pilot licenses.

""That's how our product line basically developed,'' said Mel Nichols, director of Cessna flight training operations. ""As we trained more pilots, there were more people to buy our products. That'sthe basics of our business: without pilots, you don't sell an awful lot of aircraft.''

During the last three decades, the emphasis the company has placed on flight training has varied, depending on the strength of sales and the number of people learning to fly. From the all-time highof 138,000 in 1977, the number of students at Cessna schools dropped to 92,000 last year. Company sales declined from $1.06 billion in 1981 to $693.6 million in 1984.

The reduction in the number of people learning to fly and the current weak market in the aircraft industry has once again turned Cessna's attention to its flight training program.

The company has 605 flight training schools, called Cessna Pilot Centers, at airports across the nation and Nichols said it plans to expand that number to 1,000 by the end of this year, the same total it had in 1980 before the recession diverted attention from the operation.

Cessna has a new sales crew on the road contacting logical candidates to open a school,'' Nichols said. ""They're signing up new Cessna Pilot Centers on the average of one per day at the rate they're going right now.''

Cessna Pilot Centers are run like a franchise, Nichols said. People interested in opening a center must meet certain criteria and then attend a Cessna training program where they learn the Cessna teaching method. …

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