Cirrus Updates Jet Program Status

At EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Cirrus updated the status of its Vision jet program; as well as outlining a series of recent global partnerships. Cirrus co-founder Dale Klapmeier addressed the thorny issue of the jet head-on. For the last few months, his brother and co-founder of the company Alan Klapmeier has been approaching potential investors in an effort to assume control of the jet program's development. How much control is the big question. While Dale discussed "peeling away" the jet program from the main core of Cirrus Design, CEO Brent Wouters said that the parent company would "of course, retain an ownership stake" in the jet.

The issue of the Vision jet has clearly caused friction within the company, and between Alan and Dale Klapmeier. But Dale and Wouters both laid out their hopes for a "win-win situation" should Alan be successful in his efforts to entice an infusion of funding for the program. Dale said, "He's still my brother. There are times we want to kill each other, but we're still family." Wouters said that Cirrus would not consider anyone other than Alan's group for a possible deal.

The step-up aspect of the jet remains an important element for Cirrus's business plan, giving operators of SR20 and SR22 pistons an airplane to aspire to. Exactly what the pros and cons of "peeling off" the Vision program are remains a complicated question. Besides the obvious element of funding, Dale said the Vision program "needs dedicated focus." Asked if accelerating the developmental time frame was one of the goals, Wouters said he didn't believe peeling off the program would affect the timetable for better or worse, but rather, could help to organize the financial structure of the company. The current schedule calls for certification and first deliveries in 2012, but Cirrus acknowledges that without an infusion of funding, whatever form that takes, that timetable is unrealistic.