Cirrus Aircraft announced the expansion of its Grand Forks, N.D. facility to accommodate a new autoclave oven in preparation for production of the all-composite Vision SF50 jet. Modifications to the Grand Forks plant began in May and the autoclave was delivered late last week, with installation now under way.
“The building housing the autoclave will be constructed around this large piece of equipment,” Cirrus said, “and is expected to be complete by the end of July with a fully operational autoclave by mid-August.”
An autoclave oven is already used to manufacture the carbon-fiber main spars for the wings of Cirrus’ SR20 and SR22 piston singles, though this work was outsourced to an out-of-state company. These piston-airplane components, along with the carbon-fiber main spar for the SF50, will be brought in-house by year-end, saving the company “several million dollars over the next 10 years” and creating the opportunity for future job growth, Cirrus said.
The autoclave pressurizes nitrogen gas up to 125 psi during the cure cycle, which more effectively compresses the composite part, enhancing its strength and durability. Inside, the autoclave measures 8.5 feet in diameter and 40 feet long.