The company markets several versions of its two certified designs, the SR20 and the SR22. The company is also planning to market the Light Sport Aircraft category Cirrus SR Sport later in 2009. The Cirrus Vision SF50 single-engine jet is currently under development.
Cirrus Design has its headquarters and main manufacturing facility in Duluth, Minnesota. An additional manufacturing facility is located in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Assembly facilities are also located at Bembridge, on the Isle of Wight in England and at Archerfield Airport in Brisbane, Australia.
On 27 December 2007 the company secured a lease for former Northwest Airlines hangar at Duluth International Airport. It will use the 189,000-square-foot (17,600 m) building for construction of its new Cirrus Jet.
Co-founder Alan Klapmeier served as President and CEO from 1984 until 2009.
On 18 December 2008 the company announced that Chief Operating Officer Brent Wouters was to becaome President and CEO effective 1 February 2009. Alan Klapmeier continued as Chairman of the board with Dale Klapmeier as Vice-Chairman.
In August 2001, Cirrus sold 58% of the company for $100 million to Crescent Capital, the US arm of the First Islamic Investment Bank of Bahrain (now called Arcapita)
It was reported in December 2007 that the Bahrain-based Arcapita Bank, is looking to sell its share of the company. Cirrus Design has indicated that this was expected as Arcapita was considered a medium-term investor.
Cirrus SR (Single Reciprocating) Series aircraft are designed around composite technologies with Avidyne Entegra digital flight displays and modern avionics as standard equipment. The aircraft are all electric - no vacuum systems are used. Redundancy is provided by dual batteries and alternators. The SR22 is also available with TKS anti-icing equipment intended for known icing, with FAA certification of the system expected in the second quarter of 2009.
The aircraft incorporate other unusual design elements. All Cirrus aircraft use a mechanical "side yoke" instead of the traditional yoke or stick flight controls. The aircraft also use a single power lever that adjusts both throttle and propeller RPM via a mechanical cam actuated throttle and propeller control system. Construction is dominated by the use of composite materials, although traditional aluminum is used for flight control surfaces.
The SR22 has an option for a Tornado Alley turbo-normalized engine. This allows the engine to maintain maximum power at higher altitudes while increasing the maximum operating altitude to 25,000'.
Cirrus Parachute System (CAPS)
The Cirrus SR series (SRV, SR20, and SR22) aircraft are equipped with the Cirrus Aircraft Parachute System (CAPS), a ballistic parachute deployed from the back of the aircraft, in most cases, allows the entire aircraft to descend safely from an emergency. Cirrus is the first manufacturer to receive FAA certification for production aircraft with ballistic parachute systems. With the NASA-developed spin resistant wing, the parachute system was accepted by the Federal Aviation Administration as an equivalent level of safety and complete spin testing was not required by the FAA.
The Cirrus pilot's operating handbook states that the parachute system "is designed to bring the aircraft and its occupants to the ground in the event of a life-threatening emergency. The system is intended to save the lives of the occupants but will most likely destroy the aircraft and may, in adverse circumstances, cause serious injury or death to the occupants".
The company has been successful as a manufacturer of general aviation airplanes. According to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the Cirrus SR22 had been the best selling certified single engine airplane in every year since 2002.
2008-2009 economic downturn
In 2008 the global sale slump in piston-engined aircraft impacted the company and they laid off 100 workers or 8% of their workforce. This included 79 people at the main plant in Duluth, Minnesota and 29 employees at the composite construction plant in Grand Forks, North Dakota. After the lay-offs are complete Cirrus will employ 1,230 people in total.
Company COO Brent Wouters stated that the lay-offs were due to "not selling as many airplanes as we'd hoped to this year."
Company CEO Alan Klapmeier announced in October 2008 that due to the economic situation and the resulting lack of demand for Cirrus aircraft, that the company was moving to a three-day work week. He reported that sales are down 10% over the same period in the previous year, compared to industry overall average, which is down 16%. Klapmeier also indicated that introduction of the Cirrus SRS has been delayed until 2009, due to lack of demand in light sport aircraft market sector, but the Cirrus Vision SF50 jet will not be delayed.
Cirrus eliminated 208 employees positions in the fall of 2008 and cut aircraft production from 14 to 12 aircraft per week in response to the economic situation.
In November 2008 the company announced that it would lay-off about 500 production employees for one month to allow for reductions in excess stock of aircraft produced.
Company President Brent Wouters stated:
On 3 December 2008 Cirrus Design CEO Alan Klapmeier provided more information about how the economic situation is impacting plans at the company:
Cirrus started recalling its workers on 5 January 2009 after the month-long shutdown. The furloughed workers will be called back slowly over the month with the aim of ramping up to production of eight aircraft per week, compared to a company capacity of 16 aircraft per week. The company has indicated that it will retain the ability to reduce its workforce quickly as the economic situation and sales numbers dictate.
On 9 January 2009 Cirrus announced that it would lay off 50 administration employees and extend the lay off period for 100 of the 500 employees laid off over Christmas 2008. Company spokesman Bill King stated that the cuts were necessary or else the company would not survive the current economic crisis.
In early February the company's new CEO, Brent Wouters, indicated that the future of the company will likely hinge on the Cirrus Vision SF50 jet design as production of the piston single-engine SR-series has fallen to 20% of its 2008 rate of 16 aircraft per week. Wouters characterized demand for new aircraft as "awful" and added "We are increasing our focus on the jet, because that is going to be our future engine for growth in my estimation."
In April 2009 the company announced that it was suspending the Cirrus SRS light sport aircraft project, citing economic conditions, that the project requires development of the airplane and also an expanded flight-training strategy and the LSA rules are expected to change over time and allow LSAs with a broader mission profile.
On 29 April 2009 the company announced that it was increasing production from the previous 3-4 aircraft per week back to 6 aircraft per week. The change will be accomplished without recalling any laid-off workers. The company stated: "We continue to see very encouraging trends in sales activities and interest from sales prospects domestically and around the world. Clearly, this is an upward move and is indicative of a stronger bias toward growth in aircraft orders. Though we remain in a very challenging environment, our hope is that this new rate is the first step and initial indicator of what will become a more substantial trend into the second half of the year and beyond."
On 1 June 2009 the company announced it was recalling 50 workers and boosting production to 8 aircraft per week.
The company stated:
Proposed SF50 program purchase
On 26 June 2009 it was reported by AvWeb that Cirrus Design co-founder and former CEO Alan Klapmeier intends to buy the SF50 project from Cirrus Design and its major shareholder Arcapita and produce the aircraft under a new company. The new venture is receiving financial advice from Merrill Lynch.
Current Cirrus CEO Brent Wouters indicated that the company intends to proceed with the SF50 program itself, but will listen to Klapmeier's proposal.
Aircraft Type Club
Published - July 2009
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