Civil Air Patrol Mulling Future of Cessna Fleet

South Carolina Wing aircrews prepare a pair of CAP planes––a Cessna 182 (front) and a Cessna 172––to take off from Columbia Metropolitan Airport in advance of aerial photography and observation missions throughout the state of South Carolina. Photo by 1st Lt. Rachael Mercer, South Carolina Wing Headquarters.

The Air Force is seeking a contractor to study whether the Civil Air Patrol’s fleet offers the right mix of capabilities for current and future missions, according to a recent Federal Business Opportunities posting.

“Increased Department of Defense reliance upon CAP … has revealed an increasing mission demand for defense support of civil authorities, homeland defense, and homeland security missions with a more immediate and greater need in times of crisis,” according to the April 19 sources-sought notice. “CAP owns, maintains, and operates a fleet of 560 single engine aircraft. Based on CAP’s current and future mission and services, CAP’s fleet may need to be modernized, diversified, and/or upgraded.”

CAP, a congressionally required nonprofit with 61,000 members who fall under the Air Force, aims to fly at least 100,000 hours of homeland security and defense missions, civil support jobs like imagery, transportation, and search-and-rescue missions, and other operations annually. Congress normally allots CAP enough money to buy 10-15 new Cessnas a year.

“Most of CAP’s fleet of aircraft are Cessna aircraft,” according to the Air Force. “CAP purchases new Cessna aircraft each year to perform its mission and to recapitalize its fleet. The high wing design of Cessna aircraft has proven beneficial for the aerial reconnaissance and SAR missions CAP routinely performs.”

The chosen company will weigh in on the CAP’s future fleet structure and composition, assess recapitalization schedules and mission risks, recommend communications, avionics, and special equipment, and suggest new missions. The study, which will include trips to CAP’s National Headquarters at Maxwell AFB, Ala., and Tyndall AFB, Fla., is due within 180 days of contract award.

The winning contractor is also asked to recommend “requirement standards for aircraft performance, pilot training suitability, passenger and cargo capacity,” and configuration requirements like floats, skis, and gear for landing in unpaved areas.

Interested organizations are asked to respond to the notice by Friday.