Cirrus Aircraft is still seeking additional capital to see its single-engine Vision SF50 jet program through to certification and production. A dramatic drop in sales of singles has affected all piston-engine aircraft manufacturers, and Cirrus has seen deliveries of its piston singles fall from 425 through the third quarter of 2008 to 189 in the same period last year. Cirrus has adapted to the drop in sales by learning how to build airplanes with fewer resources. “We’ve made huge changes in the business,” said Cirrus president and CEO Brent Wouters. “We’ve eliminated a lot of positions and changed the cost structure dramatically.”
Cirrus has had to refund some deposits on the Vision jet, but according to Wouters, “Since October 1, we’ve been net positive in deposit holders.” Wouters said Cirrus is “still in the 360 range” for deposits on the Vision jet.
The plan for this year is to complete the design work on the Vision jet, he explained. Once the design is complete, he added, “then we can press forward, having delayed to make sure the capital is available.” Three conforming prototypes are planned.
Wouters said that Cirrus made its formal application to the FAA for the Vision type certificate in December, which starts a three-year timeline within which the FAA expects the certification program to be completed. Wouters acknowledged that Vision jet depositors have told him that Cirrus needs to reveal publicly a timeline for completion of the Vision jet. “I can assure you there is a detailed plan with a definite timeline, but I’m not going to share it. We know what our timeline is. We can hit our timeline with our plan. Yes, we need capital, some of which we will generate ourselves,” he said. Wouters added that certification in 2011 is not possible, but “2012 is absolutely possible. We are meeting milestones. It might take my dying breath, but we will get that program done.”