June 28, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
Cirrus Aircraft announced the completion of its merger with China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA) Co. Ltd., forming what the firm described as a worldwide general aviation enterprise.
Brent Wouters, Cirrus president and CEO, said the merger would benefit Cirrus customers and its business because the firm will have “the resources that will allow us to expedite our aircraft development programs and accelerate our global expansion.”
AOPA reported Feb. 28 that the merger, under negotiation for 20 months, would leave Cirrus in operation in Duluth, Minn., and Grand Forks, N.D. Wouters said the deal would preserve the dream of the company founded by Alan and Dale Klapmeier to design cutting-edge aircraft. Alan left Cirrus in 2009 and now heads Kestrel Aircraft, which is developing a single-engine turboprop in Brunswick, Maine. Dale remains at Cirrus as chairman.
Wouters cited the merger as a catalyst for expansion at Cirrus following two years in which the company drastically cut back its workforce and backed off the development of its Vision single-engine V-tail jet.
CAIGA understands “the strength and the talent of Cirrus's workforce who have made the Cirrus brand so successful and prominent in the general aviation marketplace. CAIGA will continue to invest in our employees and in our world-class production facilities in Minnesota and North Dakota,” he said.
Completion of the merger was contingent on approval of the federal Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an interagency panel that reviews transactions leading to control of a domestic company by foreign interests.
Other principals in the transaction also commented on the merger in the announcement on the Cirrus website.
“We are very impressed with Cirrus' performance in the global general aviation industry,” said Meng Xiangkai, CAIGA’s president. “It has a very strong record of consistent product excellence, comprehensive safety features, an outstanding management team and a highly skilled workforce who operate from advanced production facilities.”
Dale called the merger an important milestone in the company's history and “a very positive development that allows us to continue our mission to develop and build the best, most exciting aircraft in the world.”
Cirrus has delivered nearly 5,000 new piston airplanes over the last decade, with the SR22 family of aircraft “the best-selling four-place airplane in the world,” said the announcement.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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