Buyers Come From Far And Wide, But Who Are They?
by ANN Correspondent Matt Russell
Yes, yes, we know you’re thinking of Brangelina. And even
at AirVenture, Cirrus set up a plasma screen to run closed-loop
video of the cutesy couple canoodling in Angelina's SR22 somewhere
But we wanted to know who the real Cirrus owners are. Moreover,
in a time filled with poor statistics and doomsday predictions for
General Aviation, we want to know how Cirrus bucks the trends.
Somehow, in a time of fewer new pilots, fewer student pilots, and
fewer hours flown by General Aviation with each passing year,
Cirrus manages to set significant annual sales gains. The
single-engine wonders from Duluth are the best selling airplanes in
At AirVenture, we sat down with Tim Hurst of Marketing at
Cirrus, and asked a few questions. Tim was able to confirm a
suspicion at ANN... brand new pilots only occupy a small fraction
of overall Cirrus clients. Since that’s the case, we deduced
that the remainder of Cirrus clients must be coming from other
types of airplanes.
Hurst explained many Cirrus clients have been flying other
common high-performance planes for years. Others have been flying
aircraft below the high-performance threshold, and choose a Cirrus
product for the next step. Still others had stopped flying several
years back, and choose Cirrus products for their personal
returns-to-flight. Owners coming from partnerships or fractional
programs are common, and many choose to retain such arrangements
when moving to their first Cirrus product.
Perhaps the most enlightening fact is that a large number of
Cirrus aircraft are exported each year. Hurst declined to give
exact numbers, but did state Brazil is the most active export
market for Cirrus.
Ernesto Maurer of Elgg, Switzerland leads a community of
passionate Cirrus pilots in Europe. Three years ago, Maurer took
delivery of the one-hundredth Cirrus exported to Europe.
Appropriately, he received registration number N100EU.
Maurer chooses to use his Cirrus for pleasure, rather than
business. "When I am on business," he says, "I choose to focus on
business entirely, so I should not be flying. But when I am on
holiday, I enjoy nothing more than taking my own plane." With $8
Avgas, European airspace restrictions, guaranteed landing fees, and
an infant service network, Maurer reflects the spirit of sport
aviation through his will to continue flying.
When asked about his prior flight experience, Maurer said he
mainly flew Mooneys. "The interior [design] of the Cirrus is so
smart, so advanced, that once you fly it you can never go back," he
says. "With the Mooney, if you are able to climb into the seat
you’ve already earned your medical certificate," he
Maurer agreed with ANN’s earlier observation that pilots
and manufactures are now embracing luxury car experiences as
standards for aircraft... and, with the industry's apparent
comparison of choice. "I drive a BMW, and when you fly the Cirrus,
it’s the same. My passengers think it’s the same.
That’s how it should be today."
Maurer has accumulated about 500 hours in the past three years
of ownership. "My favorite part is to tell my friends about the
‘chute," he says, referring to the Cirrus Airframe Parachute
System (CAPS) on each Cirrus aircraft. "Many of them cannot believe
me. They say ‘I always thought it wasn’t
possible’ and then I show them the handle. They react with
disbelief!" Cirrus’s Tim Hurst explains how the families and
friends of Cirrus owners respond to the CAPS system. "It’s as
if each pilot has chosen an excellent, passenger friendly plane to
start with, and with the CAPS they are hedging their bet."
Hurst also believes the CAPS system has brought a number of
pilots back from "private pilot retirement."