Cirrus Co-Founder Wants to Take Over Jet Program


Alan Klapmeier has begun approaching investors in an attempt to purchase the rights to develop and build the Cirrus Vision Jet. For the past two months, the current chairman of Cirrus Design has been meeting with as many as 100 potential investors. Kuwait-based Arcapita Ventures currently controls Cirrus Design and the rights to developing the single-engine jet through a separate wholly owned company. Klapmeier wants to acquire the rights to the program and develop it separately from Cirrus. He said he would expect to remain on the board of the company he co-founded with his brother Dale in 1984, but would step down as chairman to pursue the jet project. Cirrus currently holds orders for more than 350 jets (down from more than 400), each backed with a $100,000 deposit. Klapmeier has projected the need for two additional rounds of financing, each totaling approximately $60 million, to bring the jet to certification and production. In a telephone interview, Klapmeier said, "It's a tough time to raise money, but there are a surprising number of people with cash to invest. And the ones who have held onto their money recognize a good deal. We've demonstrated we know how to design, build and sell airplanes." How much Cirrus Design will remain involved is "still in negotiation" said Klapmeier, and he expects details to emerge in the next several weeks. At the 'Cirrus Migration' fly-in last week, company president and CEO Brent Wouters (an Arcapita appointee) said he doesn't "see a future for Cirrus without the jet," but did not rule out some sort of cooperative agreement between Cirrus Design and Klapmeier's proposed venture.