Cirrus Aircraft’s Vision becoming reality

After years of stagnation, development of Cirrus Aircraft’s Vision SF50 jet is full steam ahead.

Introduced at AirVenture in Oshkosh in 2006, the jet’s first flight was in 2008. Then came the economic collapse and the company’s search for new capital, resulting in the sale of Cirrus to China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA).

With backing from its new owners, the company was able to revive the Vision SF50 program, setting it on a path towards certification “before the end of 2015,” according to Dale Klapmeier, the company’s co-founder and CEO.

“This has been a long, long program,” he acknowledged recently. “I like to say we’ve been going at the speed of cash.”

He admits it’s “not as fast as I’d like,” but reports the company is making progress on the $1.9 million jet, touted as a personal jet designed to fill a niche between piston singles and twins and the Very Light Jet (VLJ).

The V-tail jet, which will offer seating for up to five adults and two children, will be powered by a Williams International FJ33 engine and will feature a Garmin glass panel. Other standard features include air conditioning, reclining seats, a pilot “quick-don” emergency oxygen system, and a Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS).

A new ballistic parachute system is being developed for the jet, building off the improved parachute system just debuted in the company’s Generation 5 models.

There are a lot of variables that must go into developing a parachute system for the jet, according to Klapmeier, who notes the system’s development will not be linear, but rather an evolution. “It is a multi-year development program,” he said.

But that’s OK because there is still plenty left to do to complete development of the jet.

“Today cash is not the issue, but what we want the critical path to be,” Klapmeier said, explaining the “critical path” delineates “what we can get done today and what we can get done tomorrow.”

There won’t be any shortcuts in the process, he noted.

“That’s not what the customer wants,” he said, noting, “the airplane will be on the market for a long time.”

For those who are anxiously awaiting the jet’s first deliveries — which Klapmeier hopes will happen by the end of 2015 — Cirrus just introduced its Generation 5 Vision Inspired Special Edition SR22T. Aimed directly at customers interested in moving up to the jet, the special edition model is the company’s top of the line model, according to Klapmeier.

Customers who buy the Vision-inspired SR22 also lock in a price of $1.91 million for a jet and get a $50,000 break on the non-refundable deposit. That’s compared to the current list price of $1.96 million and a $100,000 non-refundable deposit.

Priced at $829,000, the SR22T boasts the flight characteristics and handling similar to the jet, according to company officials.

“It is the airplane those customers aspire to have until they can get the jet,” Klapmeier said.

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