OSHKOSH, Wis. – Cirrus, which publicly debuted its conforming Vision SF50 single jet on July 27, is planning to add the next two models into the flight-test program by early next year as the company continues to progress toward a late 2015 certification for its first jet product.
C-Zero flew for the first time in March and has since been used for basic flight characteristics tests. The aircraft flew over a crowd of several hundred attendees at the Cirrus exhibit on the eve of AirVenture here and then returned to the certification program for continued testing.
Once the next two aircraft join the program, C-Zero will be modified for an inflight parachute deployment to test its capabilities. C-1 and C-2 will be systems testing airplanes, says President and COO Patrick Waddick. C-1 is expected to fly later in the year with C-2 following "closely behind," Waddick says. Production has begun on both models.
Parachute development and testing outside of the aircraft has been going smoothly, he says, but adds that it is among the most "technically challenging" elements of the development program – and more complex than with the SR20/22 series.
Unlike the single-pistons, which are fitted with the parachute in the back of the plane, the Vision will house the parachute in the nose. That adds about 150 lb. of weight to the front of the plane, which makes the design more complex, he says. Cirrus has begun system testing, which includes drop tests from helicopter.
As the certification program continues, Cirrus has begun to ramp up hiring, making a push at AirVenture for engineers and other workers. The company put an advertisement seeking applicants on a billboard outside of the AirVenture grounds, along with advertising in the AirVenture Visitors Guide.
As the hiring continues, Cirrus is eyeing potential increases to accommodate growing production with the Vision. Once deliveries get under ay in late 2015, Cirrus expects to increase production to 90 aircraft in 2016 and then up to 125 a year, says CEO Dale Klapmeier.
He concedes this may require expansion, possibly both at its facility in Duluth, Minnesota, and with its "partners overseas." But Klapmeier noted that the aircraft would be assembled in Minnesota.
Backing up the production targets and possible expansion is an orderbook with some 550 positions reserved. Cirrus is permitting position holders to use their deposits to buy other aircraft while they wait, and a number have chosen to take that step.
Cirrus has positioned its seven-seat personal jet between the high-performance piston/turboprop aircraft and light business jets – a place that the company calls "a new category in personal aviation." Klapmeier says there is no direct competitor. Other efforts in the single-jet have been put on hold or have not developed to the point of production.
Powered by the Williams FJ33, the aircraft will fly at 300 ktas, have a range of more than 1,200 nm and reach altitudes up to FL280.