Morgan Freeman Helps SyberJet Break Ground on New Facility

Center in the making for SJ30 bizjet.

SyberJet Groundbreaking Morgan Freeman

SyberJet Groundbreaking Morgan Freeman

** MSC Aerospace chairman David Grant
announces the groundbreaking of SyberJet's
new facility with Utah's governor Gary Herbert,
award winning actor Morgan Freeman and
Cedar City's Mayor Maile Wilson at his side.**
Pia Bergqvist

SyberJet, the company that took over the Sino Swearingen SJ30 design after the company went bankrupt, broke ground yesterday on a new 30,000-square-foot completion, delivery and training center at the Cedar City Regional Airport (KCDC) in Cedar City, Utah. Several hundred people were in attendance at the groundbreaking event, including government officials, suppliers, family members and customers. Among those who spoke was actor and pilot Morgan Freeman, who owns one of the four flying SJ30s. Freeman has committed to trading in his current SJ30 for not one but two new SyberJets.

The new facility is located across the street from the headquarters of SyberJet’s parent company, MSC Aerospace, which was organized in 2013 and also owns Metalcraft Technologies (MTI), an aircraft parts manufacturer that started its involvement with the SJ30 17 years ago and produced about 70 percent of the metal parts of the jet during the Sino Swearingen days, said MSC Aerospace chairman David Grant. Metalcraft also produces parts for a long list of aviation manufacturers including Boeing, Cessna and Northrop Grumman.

“Good things take time,” a visibly emotional Grant said, speaking about the progression of the company, which he started as Metalcraft exactly 25 years ago. Grant announced the groundbreaking and invited Freeman along with government dignitaries and company officials to don work helmets, grab shovels and dig the first trench.

Grant said SyberJet is approaching the business with a different philosophy from many other startup manufacturers, beginning with a low production business model. The initial production rate is scheduled for 12 airplanes per year, but the facility will be capable of producing 24 airplanes annually. The investment required for the SyberJet program was only $20 million, Grant said, and, being equity funded, the company started out without debt, which bodes well for the potential success of the budding company.

With a low startup and production cost, SyberJet’s general manager and director of sales and customer service Mark Fairchild said savings can be passed on to the customers and the targeted price for the jet is below $8 million.

In addition to serving as the completion center for the SJ30, the Cedar City-based facility will house a new interior design center. The SyberJet will have a revamped interior, designed by Jason Castriota who is known, among other things, for his design work with Ferrari and Maserati. The avionics has also been reconfigured. The new system, which will be branded SyberVision, is a version of the Primus Epic 2.0, announced by Honeywell last fall, with four 12-inch displays. Fairchild said the new avionics and interior each weigh about 100 pounds less than the previous versions, which translates to a greater useful load for the customers.

SyberJet has also decided to keep the training in house, at least for now. The training will initially be conducted in actual airplanes and will transition to simulators in three to four years, Fairchild said. What type or types of simulators will be used has not yet been determined.

The new SyberJet facility will be located on a 33-acre parcel of land owned by MSC Aerospace. While the majority of the SyberJet operations will be housed in Cedar City, the company is keeping its facility in San Antonio, Texas, where engineering and office staff will continue their work. The first flight of the new SyberJet with the SyberVision avionics is scheduled at the end of the year and it will be flown out of San Antonio, Fairchild said. Two airplanes currently in production in Texas will be completed there, after which the production will completely transition to Cedar City. Fairchild said certification for the SyberJet is expected at the end of next year.

(Photos by Pia Bergqvist)

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