October 10, 2013
By Dave Hirschman
Cirrus Aircraft expects to fly its first conforming SF50 Vision jet in early 2014 and the company will be able to build up to 150 new aircraft a year when the program is in full production.
The company based in Duluth, Minn., has deposits on more than 500 Vision jets and each one has a retail price of $1.96 million, said Cirrus President Pat Waddick.
“We’ve got a full team in place,” Waddick said of the Vision program. “I see the same excitement I saw (during the company’s formative years) in Baraboo (Wis.) 20 years ago.”
The five-seat, V-tail jet is expected to fly at 300 KTAS at 28,000 feet with a range of more than 1,000 nautical miles. The project has encountered numerous delays in the last five years, but new ownership by Chinese firm CAIGA is allowing Cirrus to focus on Vision certification and production, Waddick said.
Strong sales of piston Cirrus SR22 G5 models has increased 2013 deliveries to the highest levels since 2008, and the company has the longest production backlog in its history.
“We’re sold out well into next year,” said Todd Simmons, Cirrus executive vice president for sales and marketing.
Cirrus also is launching a pilot training program known as Cirrus Approach that aims to increase awareness of the whole airframe parachute system built into each airplane. The parachute system has saved 77 lives by Cirrus estimates in 37 deployments, but Cirrus pilots haven’t attempted to activate the system in many fatal accidents in which it might have altered the outcome.
“We’ve designed the safest airplane,” Simmons said. “Now we’re going to design the safest pilots.”
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.
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