Cirrus Aircraft's ambition to bring a personal jet to the market is coming to fruition as the US airframer prepares to complete tooling assembly and build the primary structure for the first production-conforming single-engined Vision SF50 by the end of June.
"We are making big strides with the SF50 development. The aircraft is starting to take shape," says Cirrus executive vice-president sales and marketing Todd Simmons. "We expect to reach significant programme milestones in the second half of the year - installing the systems and powerplant, and rolling out the first aircraft in the fourth quarter." The first flight is scheduled for early 2014, with US certification and customer deliveries to take place the following year.
Simmons says Cirrus's owner - China Aviation Industry General Aircraft - is fully committed to funding the SF50. CAIGA acquired Cirrus in 2011, and has injected around $100 million into the programme to date. "Our long-term strategy is to build a family of Cirrus aircraft - maybe a larger jet, maybe twin-engined designs - I can't say," he says.
The SF50 has been a key focus for Cirrus since its launch in December 2006. Even during the economic downturn and the funding shortage that ensued, development of the seven-seat aircraft continued - albeit at a reduced pace. A fibreglass SF50 technology demonstrator has completed more than 600 flying hours and Cirrus continues to carry out "detail design, systems verification and full flight envelope testing with the aircraft", Simmons says.
Priced at $1.96 million, the SF50 is equipped with the Garmin G3000 glass cockpit and is powered by a Williams International FJ33 turbofan. It has a range of 1200nm (2,220km), a stall speed of 61kt (113km/h) and a cruise speed of 300kt. Cirrus has chalked up around 540 orders for the SF50, each with a $100,000 deposit.
"Production rates have yet to be decided," Simmons says. "We may build higher numbers early on to clear the backlog and then retain a steady production pace."
Aero 13 also marked the European debut of Cirrus's fifth-generation SR22. The $892,000 piston-single - available in the "Vision Inspire" blue, silver and white livery of the SF50 demonstrator - boasts an increase in gross weight from 1,540kg (3,400lb) to 1,633kg and in seating capacity from four to five people.