On the eve of the annual Cirrus owner migration event in Duluth, Minn., Cirrus chairman Alan Klapmeier announced today that he has assembled a team to acquire the aircraft manufacturer’s Vision SF50 single-engine jet program from majority owner Arcapita Bank. We talked with Klapmeier to get more details about this interesting development and find out why he’s proposing to do this.
Cirrus Vision SF50
Grand Rapids, Mich. L-3 Avionics Systems has filed a lawsuit seeking $18.7 million from Cirrus over the cancellation of an order for SmartDeck cockpit systems and an additional $3 million L-3 Avionics claims it is owed for Stormscope and other stand-alone products.
As Cirrus Aircraft’s prototype Vision jet single resumes flight testing with a new Garmin G1000 avionics suite, some buyers seeking refunds of deposits for the jet have experienced delays in obtaining their refunds. “We are returning deposits,” Cirrus CEO Brent Wouters told AIN, although some deposits have taken longer than the 45 days specified in the Vision purchase agreement.
Duluth, Minn.-based Cirrus Design announced late last month that president and COO Brent Wouters will take over the CEO role from company cofounder Alan Klapmeier on February 1. Klapmeier will continue to serve as Cirrus’s chairman of the board but will be less active in day-to-day operations at the company.
Duluth, Minn.-based Cirrus Design yesterday said it continues to refine the design of its SJ50 Vision single-engine jet and released more detailed preliminary performance and specifications numbers.
Cirrus Design’s Vision single-engine jet prototype has logged about 75 hours to date, the company announced last month. The company also determined that the jet will have only a single cabin door, will feature a carbon-fiber structure instead of fiberglass, and the wing might also be relocated up or down slightly. Certification could occur as early as 2010, but is more likely in 2011, the company said.
This year has seen some significant changes in the very light jet (VLJ) category, with two manufacturers going bankrupt and another facing serious financial challenges.
Aviation Technology Group was the first of the modern crop of very light jet manufacturers to fold, having filed for liquidation (Chapter 7 bankruptcy) in May.
The Duluth, Minn.-based manufacturer of four-place composite piston singles is number two in the marketplace for piston airplanes, but it is fast gaining ground on Cessna, the number-one piston airplane OEM. According to GAMA statistics, Cirrus Design in 2001 accounted for 11 percent of all piston airplanes built by GAMA members and Cessna about 42 percent. In 2002, Cirrus jumped to almost 28 percent while Cessna dropped to 35 percent.
On-demand air-taxi firm SATSair on Tuesday signed a letter of intent with Cirrus Design to add five Cirrus Vision SJ50 jet singles to its fleet. SATSair, which currently operates 26 Cirrus SR22s, will integrate the single-engine jets into its operations–following the SJ50’s expected certification in 2010–as a hybrid to its Southeastern whole-airplane charter network.
Yesterday afternoon, Cirrus test pilot Kent Vandergrift flew Cirrus Design’s prototype Vision SJ50 single-engine jet to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., concluding his flight with a high-speed pass and a landing on Runway 27. After the jet was towed to a stage in AeroShell Square, Cirrus founders Alan and Dale Klapmeier congratulated the Cirrus team members who helped make the jet possible.