Cirrus expands Grand Forks facility for jet production

Cirrus Aircraft is expanding its Grand Forks, N.D., facility to accommodate a new autoclave oven in preparation for production of the Vision SF50 jet.

Modifications to the Grand Forks facility began in May and the autoclave was delivered June 27, when the installation process will begin.

The building housing the autoclave will be built around this large piece of equipment, and is expected to be complete by the end of July with a fully operational autoclave by mid-August.

autoclaveAn autoclave oven is used in the manufacturing process of composite parts — in this case very large parts, such as the carbon fiber main spar of the SR-2X series aircraft and the Vision SF50 jet.

Previously production of the carbon spar using an autoclave was outsourced to an out-of-state company. Bringing this process to Cirrus at the Grand Forks composites facility will save the company several million dollars over the next 10 years and creates the opportunity for future job growth, company officials note.

This project was made possible with the assistance of funding from a loan granted earlier this year by the Grand Forks Economic Development, Growth Fund Committee.

“We appreciate the ongoing support from the city of Grand Forks,” said Bill King, Vice President of Business Administration for Cirrus Aircraft. “They have partnered with Cirrus from the very beginning and their actions and support confirm their devotion to our continued success.”

The autoclave pressurizes nitrogen gas up to 125 psi during the cure cycle, which more effectively compresses the composite part, enhancing its strength and durability properties. Weighing 40 tons, the working volume of the unit is 8.5 feet in diameter and 40 feet long.

Cirrus officials report the company has more than 500 production positions reserved for the jet.

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