Company Is "On The Threshold" Of First Flight
It's hard to believe it's been close to a year since Cirrus
Design publicly unveiled a full-scale mockup for its upcoming,
single-turbofan "the jet"... and the planemaker tells ANN the
time has flown by in its Duluth, MN development center, as
"On the threshold of the next milestone -- first flight -- we
are in a good position to share with you a number of key
accomplishments and milestones since we presented our vision that
special evening last June," the company wrote in a recent update to
Cirrus says its 125-member Advanced Development Group has been
hard at work validating the original design parameters, and
constructing V1, the first flying prototype. Earlier this year, the
team working on "the jet" moved to a larger, 200,000 sq. ft.
facility at Duluth International Airport, that was once home to
Northwest Airlines Maintenance.
The team continues testing of the aircraft's major
subassemblies, including the fuselage, engine mount, and wing and
tail attach points. The test airframe has also been outfitted with
"hundreds" of load measuring strain gauges. To address concerns
some have about the durability of a V-tail -- those who remember
early Bonanzas -- Cirrus also constructed an extra V-tail
stabilizer assembly, which it then subjected to 200% projected load
limits, "and has yet to break(!)"
That assembly will also be used to measure acceptable damage
loads, such as what might be expected following an in-flight
encounter with small hail. The tail will then be retested, to see
if its strength still matches up. "To an engineer, this is pure
fun!" Cirrus notes.
The company recently took delivery of its first flight-ready
Williams FJ33, which will power the prototype. Matt Huff, VP of
Business Development at Williams, called the FJ33 "our latest and
greatest -- the beneficiary of continuous aerodynamic improvement
as well as the lessons learned in nearly four million flight hours
of its big brother, the FJ44."
Cirrus has also cycled the prototype's landing gear, and
conducted wind tunnel tests at the Langley Full Scale Tunnel in
Hampton, VA using the 30%-scale model of "the jet."
ADG vice-presidents Mike Van Staagen and Steve Serfling note
Cirrus continues to take a deliberately cautious approach in
development of "the jet," to make sure they get things the first
"Our approach requires much patience, and it also helps to
ensure that we reach our goals in a steady, measured, way. Indeed
this is the guiding priciple of our program."