Dale Klapmeier, who co-founded Cirrus Aircraft with his brother Alan Klapmeier in 1984, is stepping down as CEO of the Duluth, Minnesota aircraft manufacturer in the first half of 2019, the company announced today. A search is under way for a successor. Klapmeier will transition to a senior advisory role for Cirrus, which has been one of the most successful aircraft manufacturing startups in the past 35 years.
“Re-imagining personal transportation has been our lifelong mission at Cirrus Aircraft,” Klapmeier said. “We’ve changed the face of aviation over the past 30 years: from delivering more than 7,000 of the world’s best-selling high-performance piston aircraft, to fundamentally rethinking how we travel, with the introduction of the world’s first single-engine personal jet—the Vision Jet—to transforming our business into a lifestyle company that defines our path ahead.”
With its origins in homebuilt aircraft, Cirrus brought its first certified aircraft, the SR20, to market in 1999, becoming the first manufacturer to produce a certified aircraft with a whole-airframe parachute as standard. Since that time, the company has become one of the most prolific producers of piston-engine aircraft in the past couple of decades, delivering more than 700 of its SR20 and SR22 models in some years.
The company made the leap into turbine market with the delivery of the Vision Jet single in 2016, capturing the Robert J. Collier Trophy for paving the way in the personal jet market.
While Dale Klapmeier has long held leadership responsibilities at Cirrus, including as vice chairman, he stepped into the CEO role in 2011. China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA) acquired the company that year.
“Transitioning out of day-to-day operations will give me the opportunity to focus on long-term strategic opportunities,” continued Klapmeier. “I could not be more confident in the team and I am excited for what lies ahead for the entire Cirrus family. For Cirrus Aircraft employees, partners, and owners around the world, the best is yet to come.”