The Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet is making its regional debut at MEBAA 2018, introducing the Middle East to the concept—and reality—of the personal jet.
“Until now, we didn’t have a real proposal for the audience here at this exhibition,” said Stefano Cestarelli, regional sales director for Cirrus Middle East and Cirrus Italy. “Many people were waiting to see the real airplane, to sit inside, so there’s big interest.”
What’s the reaction, now that MEBAA attendees have had a chance to see and sit in the single-engine jet?
“The general comment is, ‘For the smallest jet in the market, it’s really spacious inside,’” Cestarelli reported.
With a 300 knot cruise speed, the five-place Vision Jet is designed to be as easy to fly as the company’s piston-powered SR series aircraft—the SR20, SR22, and turbocharged SR22T— with safety features including its hallmark Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), which can lower the aircraft to the ground by parachute in the event of an emergency.
Five SF50s have been ordered by customers in the region, Cestarelli told AIN.
Cirrus has previously shown SR models at MEBAA, and has gained a foothold in the region. Twenty-two are in the Emirates Flight Training Academy training fleet, the Royal Saudi Air Force owns 24, and seven are privately owned.
“The community of pilots is not very big, but it is very active, and they like the idea of owning their own airplane and being in a position to fly freely,” Cestarelli said. “Their families are spread around—Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain—and they like to visit them in their own airplanes.”
As for navigating the regulations governing flights in owner-flown general aviation aircraft, “It’s very, very easy,” Cestarelli said. “I fly in this region myself. When you know how to proceed you can fly with no big difference compared to Europe. It’s actually quite permissive here.” He added, “There are initiatives in the UAE and in Saudi Arabia to establish new airports dedicated for small, private general aviation aircraft.”
As for the difference between promoting the SF50 in this region compared to others, “The interest for the Vision Jet is more concrete here because there is a base of high-quality clients who can afford it. It is easier to deal with somebody who can really place an order and purchase a Vision Jet.”
With orders backlogged, there is about a three-year wait for a new Vision Jet. “But there are some possible options” for customers who don’t want to wait that long, Cestarelli said. “I have many clients who placed an order years ago and now are not ready to take delivery.” Cestarelli can arrange to swap delivery positions among the can’t-wait and must-wait SF50 customers. “I will be happy to make two people happy at one time,” he said.
Cirrus hands over the keys to all new aircraft at its customer delivery center in Knoxville, Tennessee in the U.S. Here Vision Jet customers undergo training to earn the type certificate required to fly any turbine aircraft. “It takes a couple of weeks,” said Cestarelli. “Generally one week of ground school and one week of flight, part simulator and part in a real airplane.” The training is capped by a check ride with a designated pilot examiner. “When [the instructors] say it’s your time for a check ride, you are ready.”
That’s partly thanks to the training program Cirrus has developed for the Vision Jet, but also because the cockpit layout, instrument panel, and procedural flow are the same as in the SR series, with which most Vision Jet buyers are familiar. Cestarelli noted the owners of the seven private SR aircraft in the region account for three of the five Middle East SF50 orders to date.