China revives Cirrus SF50

April 18, 2012

After being in developmental limbo for three years, Cirrus’ Vision SF50 single-engine jet has received a $200 million shot in the arm. Cirrus’ new owner, China Aviation Industry General Aviation Company Ltd. (CAIGA) provided the funds, which add to the $45 million that Cirrus has already spent on the project.

“This is the biggest announcement in the history of the company,” said Cirrus President Dale Klapmeier in a recorded statement played at a press conference at the Aero Friedrichshafen convention, adding that “the end is in sight”—a reference to the completion of the SF50’s certification.

Todd Simmons, Cirrus’ executive vice president of sales and marketing, declared the SF50 “fully funded,” and predicted certification in 2015, followed by first deliveries in the second half of 2015. Now we’re seeing the real benefits of the partnership with CAIGA,” Simmons said. “They came to the table, asked what we wanted, and we told them.” Simmons added that the SF50’s production rate will be 75 airplanes in the first 12 months, and approximately 125 per year after that.

The SF50, which first flew in 2008, has garnered 515 deposits of $100,000 each from prospective owners. “Between now and July 1, 2012, the price of the SF50 will be $1.72 million. After that the price goes up to $1.96 million for a fully equipped airplane,” Simmons said. Recently, Cirrus has hired more than 125 new employees to work on the rejuvenated project, with some 60 of those workers being engineers and the rest assembly workers. An additional 40 job positions have been posted but have yet to be filled.

There will be a total of three test articles of the 300-knot, 1,000-nautical-mile SF50, which should come in with a maximum gross takeoff weight of approximately 6,000 pounds. Useful load is projected at 2,300 pounds, and maximum fuel weight will be 1,900 pounds. “The airplane is flying just the way we designed it,” Simmons said. “We’ve proven the flight envelope and we’re working closely with the FAA toward certification.”

Thomas A. Horne

Thomas A. Horne | "AOPA Pilot" Editor at Large, AOPA

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1970s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.