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.”
Aircraft Power and Fuel
The next stop is Putrajaya, Malaysia, on May 17 and 18 for the 2014 Red Bill Air Race World Championship, following an “electrifying” contest in Rovinj, Croatia.
The movement to exempt thousands of general aviation pilots from the third class medical certification process is gaining momentum in Congress and the aviation community.
The National Aeronautic Association has awarded the Collier Trophy for “the first unmanned, autonomous air system operating from an aircraft carrier.”
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