Cirrus lands China training deal

Company shifts attention to global and fleet markets

July 27, 2011

Cirrus Aircraft is reaping the benefits of a rapidly expanding general aviation market in China.

Just weeks after completing its merger with China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA), Cirrus announced it has landed a deal to supply the Civil Aviation Flight University of China with trainers for its fleet. The deal closely follows an announcement that the company will sell 25 SR20 aircraft to the U.S. Air Force Academy for training; Cirrus CEO Brent Wouters said in an EAA AirVenture news conference July 25 that the company is putting more resources into tapping growth markets, particularly the fleet and institutional markets.

Executive Vice President for Sales and Marketing Todd Simmons said the flight training academy would be adding 20 SR20s to its fleet, with a possibility for more orders. He stressed that the deal is not related to the CAIGA merger.

However, the CAIGA merger does open the door for more international business, in China and beyond, Cirrus said. Wouters said the company’s new Chinese owners put it in a position to grow in other markets around the world. Cirrus is working with the new owners to get a foothold in new markets and hopes to access capital to develop the Vision jet, he said.

Wouters hinted at an interest in expanding the Cirrus line on the lower end as well with a lower-cost training airplane, though he provided no details on what the airplane might look like.

Training fleets have been a bright spot for Cirrus even during the economic slump. The Cirrus booth at EAA AirVenture featured some of the company’s recent successes in training fleets: SR20s decaled with Chinese symbols for the Civil Aviation Flight University of China, with Purdue University colors, and with U.S. Air Force symbols. Simmons said Cirrus has started delivery of the Air Force trainers, dubbed T-53s, and that the deal with the U.S. government was significant for the company.

“It’s the first flight experience that most cadets will have,” he said.