New Owners for Cirrus

Chinese firm buys Duluth, MN-based airplane manufacturer.

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Robert Goyer

In a phone call to Flying, Cirrus Aircraft president Brent Wouters said that the deal would give Chinese firm China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Company (CAIGA) 100 percent ownership of Cirrus. Financial details of the merger weren't immediately released pending notification of shareholders. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and would take effect, Wouters said, tentatively by the middle of the year.

CAIGA, Wouters said, is a subsidiary of AVIC, which has greatly increased its general aviation holdings in the United States in recent months, including the acquisition of leading piston engine manufacturer Continental Motors from Teledyne. Wouters was emphatic that the deal would not mean a transfer of manufacturing or jobs to China, a situation, he said, that made no business sense. “Jobs and jobs growth,” he said, “will remain in Duluth and Grand Forks.”

What will it mean to Cirrus in near term? Wouters did say that at some point it would clearly make sense for the new company to build aircraft in China, but only for that country's still embryonic GA market. Wouters told Flying that the change in ownership would allow Cirrus to do several things it hasn't been able to for lack of cash. It will allow it to jumpstart the slow-moving Cirrus Vision Jet program, to develop new products, and to potentially grow its business from without. It will also give it the budget to expand what he said was an already impressive global sales and marketing program. In terms of the Jet, Wouters said that its best-case scenario of a three-year path to certification now looked very realistic and that its smaller scale initiatives to get production tooling built could go into overdrive. Here's a link to the PDF that outlines the specifics of the deal.