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Thu, Jul 31, 2008

Cirrus Design's Vision Arrives At Oshkosh

Company Says 2011 "Sounds Like A Good Number"

An eager crowd at AeroShell Square Wednesday afternoon braved warm temperatures and somewhat brisk breezes to watch Cirrus's much-anticipated Vision SJ50 -- the aircraft formerly known as "The Jet" -- make its public debut at AirVenture 2008.

When the jet flew by show center, most were amazed at the noise this aircraft produces... or rather, the lack of it. The sleekness of the design as it flew by was "awesome," as one spectator put it, and those assembled gathered around the new plane once it taxied in, and shut down.

Following the introduction of Cirrus Design co-founders Dale and Alan Klapmeier by EAA president Tom Poberezny, the Brothers Klapmeier spoke about what they think the Vision SJ50 will mean to general aviation, and the challenges that lay ahead.

"As a personal jet, our goal is to is to have an airplane that we can fly, that you can fly, that gives you more performance but still is closer to the personal aircraft that we are used to flying," Alan said. "We are not trying to build a business jet, we are not trying to build a VLJ."
 
After thanking a few key individuals, Dale discussed the history of Cirrus and the challenges they face. While speaking of changes that the industry has seen over the years, Dale said, "The common thread that runs through that is the continued introduction of new technology. The airplane that you see behind is a result of that new technology. What hasn't changed along the way is really the enthusiasm of the company."

Dale Klapmeier then announced the first Cirrus Vision fleet order -- air taxi provider SATSAir, which ordered five SJ50s to complement its existing fleet of Cirrus SR22s. Cirrus purchased SATSAir in 2005.

Following that announcement, Aero-News sat down with Mike VanStaagen, Vice President of the Advanced Design Group at Cirrus, and asked him to field some questions that will affect every potential SJ50 buyer. Although VanStaagen would not comment on the aircraft's fuel efficiency or performance, he did say Cirrus is about where they expected to be at this early flight test stage... and that the company expects any figures that may be running high at this point to fall in line.

As far as transition training goes, Mike stated Cirrus is working on training development as we speak. In terms of the avionics package and how that would affect training -- especially for those current Cirrus owners who are considering the L3 SmartDeck glass panel now flying in the SJ50, in lieu of their current Garmin or Avidyne -- Mike stated "we have to have develop a training program that is flexible enough to except multiple avionics displays and installations, because we don't see a world with just one avionics manufacturer, we see world with manufactures competing very aggressively to give our customers the best product out there."

When asked if customer deliveries of the SJ50 are still set for 2010, Mike replied "we don't want to be overly pessimistic, or overly optimistic, so we are now looking at 2011, that sounds like a really good number." He also said Cirrus is taking a more sophisticated approach to parachute testing than it did on the SR22, by relying a lot more on simulations, in lieu of real-time tests.

"Whether or not an actual parachute test will be completed is yet to be determined," VanStaagen added.

The SJ50 is currently on display at the Cirrus booth, near the Main Entrance to AirVenture.

FMI: www.cirrusdesign.com

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