Cirrus Appoints New President, Steps Toward $950K Loan

The airplane manufacturer appointed Pat Waddick, a longtime employee and chief engineer of the company’s original aircraft, as president.

Duluth-based airplane manufacturer Cirrus Aircraft on Tuesday appointed a new president, and the company also appears poised to receive a $950,000 loan.

Cirrus announced that Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Pat Waddick was promoted to president. The company’s cofounder, Dale Klapmeier, retains the CEO title.

Klapmeier said in a statement that “now is the perfect time to hand over day-to-day responsibility of the business” to Waddick, who joined the company more than 25 years ago and has “been with us since the beginning.” With Waddick overseeing daily operations, Klapmeier said he will spend more time with customers and put greater focus on developing new products.

Waddick joined Cirrus in 1998 (as an intern, according to a report by the Duluth News Tribune), and climbed the company ladder while overseeing engineering and development of several aircraft models, including the company's original airplane. Roles served prior to becoming executive vice president and COO included director of engineering and senior vice president of engineering. He’s also a pilot with more than 25 years of flying experience, Cirrus said.

In January, Cirrus debuted the redesigned SR22/SR22T, which can carry up to five passengers, and Klapmeier said the launch of new products is driving sales this year. Meanwhile, the company has hired at least 50 Duluth employees in the past six months to accelerate development of its personal jet, called the Vision Jet. More than 100 engineers, designers, and other technicians now staff the Vision development team, and the hiring process is ongoing, the company said.

Cirrus built a prototype of the Vision Jet in 2008, but development slowed as the company lacked cash and had to downsize amid an industry-wide downturn. In 2011, Cirrus was sold to China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Company, Ltd., and its new owner subsequently made a major investment in the project, which put development back on track.

In other Cirrus news, the company appears poised to receive a $950,000 loan. A Grand Forks economic development committee on Monday recommended that Cirrus Aircraft be granted a city loan, The Grand Forks Herald reported. Cirrus wants the $950,000 loan as part of a $1.5 million plan to purchase manufacturing equipment and expand a production facility, the newspaper reported. (Cirrus has a manufacturing facility in Grand Forks in addition to its Duluth operations.)

Cirrus’ loan reportedly needs to be approved by the Grand Forks Jobs Development Authority during a March 18 meeting.