April 12, 2013
By Jim Moore
Cirrus Aircraft owners need not do the flying themselves, thanks to Cirrus On Demand, which allows customers to purchase what amounts to a personal flight department with their SR20 or SR22 (seen here). Photo courtesy Cirrus Aircraft.
Cirrus Aircraft is reviving a program that promises new pilot jobs, and ease of aviation for customers unable or uninterested in being pilots themselves.
The company announced April 11 Cirrus On Demand, which puts a Cirrus-trained staff pilot at the disposal of any new owner who needs training to complete certificates or ratings, along with those who just want to sit back and enjoy the flight.
“It removes the barriers of ‘What if I am not a pilot’ or ‘My schedule is too busy’ and provides all the advantages afforded the private owner pilot,” said Todd Simmons, executive vice president of sales, marketing, and customer support, in a news release.
The company offered a similar program in the past, though the recession brought an end to the formal program. Debbie Breemeersch, executive director of marketing, said the practice of providing company pilots to owners continued on an informal, as-needed basis, and has now been restarted in earnest, and “modernized.”
“It’s a different customer, now,” Breemeersch said in a telephone interview. A growing number of customers—typically businesspeople with demanding schedules—need the convenience and efficiency of general aviation without the time commitment required to train, stay proficient, or conduct flights that may follow a busy day of work. “It’s even more of a, ‘I don’t want to have to worry about things’ than it’s ever been.”
The company profiled one of its staff pilots online, along with a link for others who may want to apply for the job. Cirrus trains each pilot to company standards, and each pilot is a certificated flight instructor-instrument (CFII), able to fully train the owner to operate their new Cirrus, at the owner’s option. The Cirrus pilot becomes a one-person flight department, handling any and all details regarding aircraft operation that the owner elects to delegate. The Cirrus On Demand pilot is also available to train family or friends, as the owner chooses.
The program is segmented into two tiers: $79,900 a year secures the services of the Cirrus staff pilot and a few related services, Breemeersch said; the $109,900 “Total Ownership Solution” provides owners with insurance and various subscriptions for weather and navigation data in addition to the pilot.
Cirrus pilots may be deployed anywhere in the country (some limitations may apply, according to fine print on the company website), and international customers may also get a pilot to go with their airplane, Breemeersch said in an email. The company pays the pilots and handles all of the employment details. Flight operations are conducted under Part 91 (because the customer owns the aircraft, it is not, for example, subject to the more stringent requirements imposed on charter operations).
Cirrus policies govern duty hours and pilot scheduling.
Breemeersch said the company expects one or two customers per month will opt for Cirrus On Demand, a slightly higher rate than has been the case in recent years as the program was, in essence, available but unadvertised.
The Cirrus On Demand service is available for all models, including the Generation 5 SR22 which starts at $479,900, and the SR22T starting at $569,900. The SF50 Vision Jet, scheduled to begin testing and certification within the year, will likely have Cirrus On Demand pilots available as well, though Breemeersch said the cost, yet to be determined, will likely be higher than the cost of a piston pilot given the increased training requirements for turbine pilots.
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
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