What Jet Pilots Don't Get about the Cirrus Jet
With Cirrus Aircraft’s announcement that it has gotten funding — nearly $150 million, by some accounts — for its single-engine jet, there’s great joy in Duluth, and rightly so. I’ve spoken with a couple of Cirrus reps on the subject, and they’re absolutely thrilled by the prospect, and that’s not because they’re supposed to be acting thrilled. They’re excited because their prospects are excited by the jet, so much so that they get asked by a high percentage of their customers when they can get a jet; a lesser percentage puts money down on the jet, flight unseen.
Why these folks are so excited is an interesting question. There are problems with the jet, and here they are: it’ll be slow by jet standards; it’ll be low by jet standards; it will also be expensive, with the price expected to rise to right around $2 million by this summer.
The low and slow criticism is, as far as I’m concerned, moot. Cirrus says the Vision jet will be slow and they say it’ll be low, the “lowest” and “slowest,” they freely admit. With a ceiling of 28,000 feet, the jet will be flying at turboprop altitudes, where it won’t get its best performance in terms of fuel efficiency or airspeed.
But what owners will get is a single-engine jet that will be very flyable and, perhaps most importantly, one that will have the lowest complexity of entry of any turbofan ever. You will need a type rating, but you won’t even have to concern yourself with RVSM (For more on that first type rating, check out my story from my CitationJet type rating.)
Despite years of lots of asking nicely and a little begging, I have yet to fly the SF50. But based on my conversations with pilots who have flown it, I have very little doubt that it will be an easy transition for pilots who are already proficient in the SR22, an airplane that features nearly all of the advanced features of the SF50 save the pressurization and retractable landing gear. So in case you haven’t figured it out yet, this is the deal: with a Cirrus jet a regular little airplane pilot with experience in a high-performance glass-panel airplane can jump into a jet with what will surely be an very doable type rating (and a fatter wallet, it goes without saying). No multi-engine rating required. As some readers have pointed out, Diamond's D-Jet has a similar complexity/value proposition. We'll see how the development programs go for the two exciting programs.
The price tag issue for the Cirrus jet is not as big as some are making it out to be. The jump to $2 million from its current $1.7 price tag, will doubtless spur sales leading up to the increase but I’d doubt it will slow them down much thereafter. Some will argue that you can get a really nice used Mustang for $2 million, and they’re right. A used Mustang that flies up to 41,000 feet, has two engines, requires a sophisticated understanding of high-altitude operations and takes some real skill to fly around in on one engine. I love the Mustang. But for many would be Cirrus jet owners, it’s more airplane than they want or need.
In my book, the news from Duluth is nothing but good news, and I personally can’t wait for the SF50 to arrive. With shared aircraft ownership company PlaneSmart based at my home airport. I spoke with PlaneSmart president Mike Brosler on the subject a year ago. He told me that as soon as the new turbofan single was available, he'd start selling a lot of shares in it, some to existing SR22 owners and others to folks who are waiting specifically for the jet.
The wait's not over just yet, but it looks to have gotten a lot shorter.
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