The first production-conforming version of the much-anticipated Cirrus Jet is slated to roll out by the end of this year, with flight testing to begin in 2014.
Since the first Cirrus Jet prototype was unveiled in 2008, the program has completed more than 600 flight hours. Cirrus is currently building the newest prototype — the first of three production-conforming airplanes slated for testing — with data gleaned from those flight evaluations.
Cirrus initially began accepting deposits for the Vision Jet in 2006, but the program struggled for funding in the years that followed as the financial downturn descended on general aviation. The CAIGA buyout of Cirrus in 2011 breathed new life into the program, providing needed financial resources as well as access to the burgeoning aviation market in China.
Cirrus says more than 500 orders for the single-engine jet have poured in. A report in a Chinese newspaper cites Meng Xiangkai, chairman of CAIGA — the state-owned Chinese corporation that took ownership of Cirrus Aircraft in 2011 — as stating the price for early buyers of the Cirrus Jet has been set at $1.8 million, but that the cost could rise to $2 million as the jet nears delivery.
Featuring a V-tail design and a single Williams FJ33 engine, the Cirrus Jet features seating for up to five adults and two children, and will top out at a max cruise speed of 300 ktas. According to Cirrus, the fundamental impetus behind the design was ease of operation, as the company hopes the airplane will provide a smooth transition for piston single or twin operators looking to move up to a jet.
The news of the impending Cirrus Jet rollout comes as many other personal jet ventures have fallen by the wayside. Piper suspended its PiperJet program indefinitely in the fall of 2011, while Diamond announced similar news for its D-Jet in February.