Cirrus Aircraft Announces New Leader

Familiar name assumes leadership at largest piston producer.

Cirrus Klapmeier and Waddick

Cirrus Klapmeier and Waddick

** Dale Klapmeier, co-founder and CEO, and
Pat Waddick, president and COO.**

On Tuesday Cirrus Aircraft announced that longtime company employee Pat Waddick would assume the reins as president and chief operating officer of the company while co-founder Dale Klapmeier will remain as chief executive officer.

While such moves often result from performance challenges, in this case, it's the opposite. Cirrus' recent launch of the Generation Five SR22 has been a huge success — orders are already stretched out several months — and the reception of the new model has been glowing. (Look for a full flight report on it in the May issue of Flying.) Klapmeier called the G5 "the right product at the right time." He said the last five years had been a dramatic learning experience for the company in driving down costs and driving up quality, and that the time was right for the launch of the G5 and the focus on the development and certification of the Cirrus Vision jet with Waddick at the helm.

Cirrus has been without a president since the departure of Brent Wouters last year in a reorganization that named Dale Klapmeier CEO, a title and role he will retain while giving Waddick more leadership responsibility and allowing Klapmeier to focus on customer relationships and driving production quality and efficiency.

"The success of the G5," Klapmeier told Flying in a phone interview on Monday in advance of the public release of the announcement, "makes the transition easier and smoother because there are fewer distractions."

A longtime pilot, Waddick joined Cirrus in 1988 when it was an amateur-built kit manufacturer. He was subsequently named chief engineer of the VK30, high-performance single, then led development of the ST50 turboprop derivative. He was named vice president of engineering in 1997 and led the SR20 and SR22 program teams through the design, certification and production launch phases. In recent years he has, according to Cirrus’ release, “shepherded multiple generations of innovation on the SR-line and is facilitating the advanced design and production startup of the Vision SF50 Jet program.”