Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet: Factory Tour

As the Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet gets ready to make its debut later this year, Flying had the opportunity to visit the production line and get a behind-the-scenes look at how such a slick and modern jet comes together.

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Robert Goyer
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For the SF50 program Cirrus invested in a computer controlled robotic machine tool. We saw an early test of it in which the machine, appropriately enough, was asked to create a small model of the Cirrus Jet.Robert Goyer
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Another larger view of Cirrus Aircraft's first robotic manufacturing tool.Robert Goyer
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Much of the structure of the Cirrus Jet is made with carbon fiber. Here a mated forward fuselage section is attached to a jig specially constructed for finishing the part.Robert Goyer
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Another view of the forward fuselage section of one of the early production Cirrus SF50s. This component is an especially critical one as it makes up the main pressure vessel.Robert Goyer
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Strain sensors on the fuselage of a fuselage section used for destructive testing. Gauges like these help engineers find the weak links and to make sure the structure is strong throughout. It's also labeled with their unique position on the airframe for later analysis.Robert Goyer
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The SF50 is the first production Cirrus without an engine mount on the nose. There will be plenty of storage in the nose and a radar dish will be another welcome first for Cirrus.Robert Goyer
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This photo of an unfinished interior of an SF50 reveals a remarkably smooth structure. Since the carbon fiber shell is for all intents and purposes a one-piece structure (or two pieces before its halves are glued together), it gets most of its strength from the shell itself and not from internal reinforcing members, as is the case with airplanes made from sheet metal.Robert Goyer
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The incredibly long and stiff carbon fiber fore and aft wing spars of the SF50.Robert Goyer
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A fuselage undergoing construction on the line at Cirrus. The finished product won't use a wooden stick to prop open the upper half of the clamshell door.Robert Goyer
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A carbon fiber part shortly after emerging from the autoclave, where it got baked to stiff and strong perfection.Robert Goyer
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A look at the easily accessible rear baggage door of the SF50.Robert Goyer
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More strain gauges. (I just kind of liked this photograph.)Robert Goyer
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This is what you pay the big bucks for. A mostly finished Cirrus Jet complete with pretty airstair door heads toward the end of the production line. Note that there is some test equipment in the cabin of this aircraft.Robert Goyer
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A pilot's seat on the SF50. I tried it out. It looks very basic but it's surprisingly comfortable and nicely adjustable.Robert Goyer
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The engine inlet is one of the only components that will be deiced with engine bleed air.Robert Goyer
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The beautiful vee-tail of the SF50 complete with mini ventral fins.Robert Goyer
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A production SF50 coming together as it prepares for its first flight. Read more about the Vision SF50 jet's latest flight here.Robert Goyer