Cirrus Gets Funding From Owner to Make Its 1st Jet

Duluth-based Cirrus Aircraft said it has the necessary funding to develop the first single-engine jet on the market-a project that it started in 2008.

Almost five years after it began work on developing a single-engine jet, Duluth-based Cirrus Aircraft has the necessary funding to get the project off the ground.

The company announced Wednesday that it has received a “major investment” from its new owner, China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Company (CAIGA), to finish developing the plane-called Cirrus Vision-and begin production by 2015.

Cirrus currently manufactures piston-engine personal aircrafts at its facilities in Duluth and Grand Forks, North Dakota. The Cirrus Vision will be the company's first aircraft with a jet engine, and the first-ever single-engine jet on the market. The jet will offer seating for up to five adults and two children.

Jens Hennig, vice president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, told the Star Tribune that a single-engine jet would have a lower cost compared to the twin-engine jets currently on the market-which cost $4 million to $5 million. In addition, a single-engine jet would be more fuel-efficient and have lower maintenance costs than a twin-engine model, he said.

Cirrus plans to sell the new aircraft for $1.72 million through June 30; the price will climb to $1.96 million beginning July 1, 2012.

The company built a prototype of the aircraft in 2008. But development slowed as the company lacked cash and had to downsize amid an industry-wide downturn. Cirrus' sale to CAIGA last year was reportedly motivated, in large part, by its need for cash to fund the development of its jet.

Cirrus said that CAIGA's investment will allow the company to hire more engineers, designers, and other technicians who will help develop the jet.

“Today is simply a tremendous milestone for Cirrus,” Dale Klapmeier, CEO and co-founder of Cirrus, said in a statement. “The dream is renewed as we are on the cusp of an even bigger leap with the Cirrus Vision. Cirrus customers, employees, and partners around the world are rightfully proud of this moment.”