New Neighbor: Flight school gives airport a baker’s dozen

New Neighbor: Flight school gives airport a baker’s dozen

By J. Graber

Add one more to the number of flight training schools at the Scottsdale Airport.

Cirrus Aircraft is opening a flight training school exclusively for its burgeoning West Coast clientele base this month.

The training will be strictly for owners of Cirrus aircraft learning to fly or looking to stay up to date on federal ongoing-training requirements.

Including Cirrus, there are now 13 flight schools at Scottsdale Airport — 12 fixed-wing schools and one for planes and helicopters.

“The expansion of Cirrus Flight Training in Arizona continues our mission of providing world-class training through both our company-owned facilities and partner network around the world,” says Zean Nielsen, chief executive officer for Cirrus Aircraft.

“We are excited to begin offering this premium flight training service in Scottsdale that builds on our Cirrus services initiative to redefine personal aviation through a world-class customer service experience.”

Cirrus chose the Scottsdale Airport because of its proximity to its expanding West Coast market and a nearby trained workforce.

The company already operates an innovation center in Chandler that provides avionics, electrical and software engineering services.

It also supports the product development team responsible for advancing new technologies and designs for innovative product introductions. An official ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for November.

“We really live and breathe making the customer experience unlike anything else,” company spokesperson Nadia Haidar said. “We go above and beyond anything a pilot has every experienced.”

And safety is priority No. 1.

In fact, all of the company’s planes come with a parachute system for the entire plane called CAPS.

“With a simple pull of the red T-handle, the rocket-propelled parachute system deploys and lowers the entire airplane — so you and your passengers are back to the ground while still safely inside the protected environment of your Cirrus,” a company statement says.

“What this really means is more than 170 people have been returned to their families because of CAPS.”

The company’s jet model, Vision Jet, also includes a system called “Safe Return” that will land the plane if the pilot is incapacitated.

Cirrus also offers its SR line of single-engine piston craft.

The additional flight school will mean more noise around the airport.  The airport has received over 21,854 noise complaints since January 1.

The last noise abatement study at the airport was completed in 2005. Many of the noise complaints are stemming from the flight schools at the airport, airport aviation Planning and Outreach Coordinator Sarah Ferrara says.

Flight schools generate complaints because they tend to fly certain patterns around the airport repeatedly. Flights landing and taking off between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. also generate complaints

“We reach out to operators to ask for their cooperation, but because we get federal grants we must, must stay open (24 hours per day, seven days per week),” Ferrara said.

Military training planes using the airport are also a minor source of complaints.

“Most people understand they are training for the military,” Ferrara says.

Haidar says the school will operate during “typical business hours.”

Marge Hasslinger, who has lived near Hayden Road and Princess Drive for eight years, once described the noise from the flight school back in May 2000 as “ruining my life” but now says that noise is largely abated.

The number of training flights, and their accompanying noise, picked up substantially around the time COVID-19 hit in March 2020, Hasslinger says. However, that has lessened little by little until she is no longer thinking about moving.

There have been 21,854 noise complaints registered with the airport for the first half of this year, but 21,136 have been made by a single person, according to the airport’s records.

If you remove that one person from the equation, complaints are down 258 between the first half of last year and the first half of this year.

Approximately 195,852 takeoffs and landings occurred in 2020, making Scottsdale one of the busiest corporate jet facilities in the state.

About 455 aircraft are based at Scottsdale Airport, from single-engine recreational planes to numerous corporate jets. The airport is the busiest single-runway, general aviation airport and the second-busiest single runway for all airports in the nation. 

Aviation activity at the airport and airpark created $688 million in total economic benefits for the region in FY 2019. The spin-off benefit is $10 billion per year. Additionally, there are more than 1,704 aviation-related jobs at the airport and in the Airpark.

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