Cirrus Aircraft was awarded the prestigious Robert J. Collier Trophy for 2017 for its pioneering SF50 Vision Jet, the National Aeronautic Association announced.
The single-engine jet beat out eight other nominees including the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Boeing.
The Collier Trophy is awarded annually for the “greatest achievement” in the United States in "improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air and space vehicles" during actual use in the preceding year. A 25-member NAA committee selects the winner, and the trophy, commissioned in 1910, is on permanent display at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker wrote to the committee in support of Cirrus' nomination.
Cirrus is among a handful of general aviation firms to win the honor in the past several decades. It was awarded to Gulfstream Aviation in 2014 for the Gulfstream G650 and in 1997 for the Gulfstream V, to Eclipse Aviation in 2005 for the Eclipse 500, and to Cessna Aircraft in 1996 for the Citation X.
The award has previously recognized aerospace giants including Orville Wright, Glenn Curtiss, Chuck Yeager, the Apollo 11 crew, and Burt Rutan.
Cirrus has produced more than 7,000 piston SR20s and SR22s since 1999, and Klapmeier and brother Alan were the first to adopt safety features such as a whole-airframe parachute system and glass-panel avionics that showed real-time weather, traffic, and terrain.
The SF50 first flew in 2008 and was FAA certified in 2016.
The airplanes have a retail price of $2 million, and about 600 are on order.
Cirrus has delivered more than 30 SF50s and plans to increase production at its factory in Duluth, Minnesota, to about 50 airplanes this year. The company is owned by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China.
The NAA will present the award to Cirrus on June 14.