SJ50 Vision is a plane they hope to build further success upon.
Photo by Dave Higdon
Cirrus had a great month in June
delivering 35 airplanes, the most in any month since 2007, and it is
also completing delivery of 16 new SR20s to Purdue University.
The Purdue selection of the SR20 is
particularly gratifying to Cirrus because the school has such a well
regarded aviation program. A majority of all people to walk on the moon
are Purdue graduates, and the pilot training program continues to turn
out people qualified for all types of flying.
The SR20, with its advanced Garmin
Perspective flat glass cockpit, represents the level of technology
graduates will manage during their future flying careers.
The Cirrus also gathers a high level of
data recording on every flight. Purdue plans to use this data to analyze
its flight training, as well as for the engineering and maintenance
departments, to study the airplane and perhaps learn how to improve on
Weathering a downturn, turning out
The economic downturn has hit Cirrus as hard as any other aviation
company, but over the past year it has been able to put in place many
new production efficiencies.
For example, Cirrus President Brent
Wouters told me they had been able to make at least 20-percent
efficiency gains in making the component parts of the airplane. Assembly
procedures have also been streamlined for more cost savings.
This year, Wouters said, Cirrus is on
track to build about half as many airplanes as in 2008 but will be
millions of dollars ahead thanks to the changes in production process
and by keeping inventory under control.
Even with those remarkable gains Cirrus
is just breaking even. That’s a victory in these economic conditions,
but indicates how great the challenges are ahead.
Because of the slow economy, work on the
jet has been slower than hoped for but there has been some progress.
Rumors continue to fly that Cirrus is for sale, moving to another
country, or who knows what.
He said the Cirrus labor cost is so low
and workers so efficient that moving production is not in the cards.
Also, total labor to build the SR20 and
SR22 is a very small part of the total cost with most costs coming from
basic materials and vendor supplied items such as engines, avionics,
wheels, brakes and so on.
Cirrus is excited to be the first piston
single to offer Garmin’s electronic stability and protection (ESP)
system that will automatically use the autopilot system to move the
flight controls to recover from an abnormal attitude even when the
autopilot is not engaged.
ESP will be installed in Cirrus airplanes
purchased now when the system is certified next year.
Wouters told me that the company is
seeking funding to continue the jet development—no secret there—so
when there is a conversation with potential investors the rumors start
to fly because capital markets are worldwide and Cirrus is talking to
investors in many countries.
As part of its marketing efficiency
Cirrus has continued its impressive display of airplanes and mockups
here at Oshkosh. When it comes to efficiently making contact with
thousands of prospects, Oshkosh is the place.