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Grand Forks Factory Prepares for Cirrus Jet Production
Cirrus today announced the expansion of its Grand Forks, North Dakota, factory, the site of a brand new autoclave oven that will be used in the production of the Cirrus Jet.
Modifications to the Grand Forks facility began in May and the autoclave was delivered today, Cirrus said. The building housing the autoclave will be constructed around the oven, and is expected to be complete by the end of next month and go into operation in mid-August.
The autoclave oven will be used in the manufacture of composite parts such as the jet’s carbon-fiber main spar. Previously, production of carbon spars using an autoclave was outsourced to an out-of-state company, Cirrus said. Bringing the capability in house will save Cirrus several millions of dollars over the next decade, the company said.
The autoclave pressurizes nitrogen gas up to 125 psi during the cure cycle, which more effectively compresses the composite part, enhancing its strength and durability properties. Weighing 40 tons, the working volume of the unit is 8.5 feet in diameter and 40 feet long.
Cirrus hopes to roll out the first prototype for the latest iteration of the Cirrus Jet later this year and start certification flight testing next year. The SF50 is projected to have a selling price of around $2 million in 2013 dollars.