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Thu, May 08, 2008

Cirrus Provides Update On Status Of 'the jet'

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 well.

"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 position holders.

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 time.

"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."

FMI: www.cirrusdesign.com

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