June 28, 2013
By Jim Moore
A giant autoclave oven now occupies the Grand Forks, N.D., factory of Cirrus Aircraft, ready to bake the largest parts of the company’s composite aircraft—including the SF50 Vision jet the company hopes to begin testing for certification soon.
Cirrus announced June 27 that the massive machine had been delivered, following a building project required to house it. The 40-ton behemoth is 8.5 feet in diameter and 40 feet long, and allows Cirrus to complete large composite parts in-house.
Wing spars had previously been made by an out-of-state vendor, and the city loaned Cirrus $950,000 to help bring the work in house. The company expects to save millions, and create jobs with this new capability.
"We appreciate the ongoing support from the city of Grand Forks," Cirrus Vice President of Business Administration Bill King said in a news release. "They have partnered with Cirrus from the very beginning and their actions and support confirm their devotion to our continued success."
The massive autoclave pressurizes nitrogen to 125 psi during curing, compressing the composite layers for a stronger bond.
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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