Cirrus Eyes 2013 For SF50 Service Entry

Cirrus expects its SF50 single-engine jet to begin deliveries in "late 2013," six years after work began on the project. Company CEO Brent Wouters told the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune that the project is at the halfway point, and about 100 current customers had been invited to a flyover of the prototype at the Twin Cities' Anoka County-Blaine Airport last Friday. The $1.5 million jet, designed to be owner-flown, is expected to boost Cirrus's revenues by $105 million in the first year, and add as much as $300 million per year in the future. Wouters told the paper he expects 2010 to be a break-even year for Cirrus at about $200 million in sales, up from $180 million last year. Development costs for the jet so far are pegged at $60 million, according to Cirrus, with an estimate $80 million to go. Wouters said most of the customer base — 430 buyers have put down a $100,000 deposit — consists of current owners of Cirrus piston aircraft, but the jet is expected to allow the company to expand to other markets. Cirrus hopes the current economic upturn will continue, with the first quarter of this year showing an increase in sales of 35 percent over the same period last year. Following the industrywide downward trend, Cirrus has lost money the last two years. Its workforce has declined to 550 at its main factory in Duluth, Minnesota, from a peak of 1,350. Wouters said he hopes to add 20 workers in the near future, but declined to speculate on how many employees would be added when full production of the jet begins.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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