Cirrus Aircraft has been given the go-ahead by its new owner to accelerate development of the Vision SF50 personal jet.
China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA), which acquired the Duluth, Minnesota-based general aviation manufacturer last year, has pledged $100 million to bring the seven-seat, single-engined aircraft to market.
"This should be within three years," says Ian Bentley, Cirrus vice-president and managing director of international sales.
"We have been committed to this programme since its launch over six years ago. When the economic downturn struck we were forced to slow development considerably, but even throughout this turbulent period we have been working at a low level to iron out any potential technical problems that we might encounter during the SF50 certification process."
Cirrus has already invested more than $45 million in the SF50, which made its first flight in July 2008. The non-conforming prototype has completed more than 600 flying hours to date, and Cirrus has carried out "detail design, systems verification and full flight envelope testing since then", adds Bentley.
Cirrus is now building the tooling for the first of three production-conforming aircraft, which should take to the skies for the first time in 15 months.
"A handful of minor modifications will be incorporated in the production aircraft. For example, the cabin will be sightly wider and the sweep on the tail will be slightly reduced, says Bentley.
Cirrus has clocked up 500 orders for the Vision. "In 2008 we had around 400 orders. When the programme was slowed we lost around 100 of these but have since added another 200, of which around 60% are from US-based customers," says Bentley.
The SF50 has a cruise speed of 300kt (555km/h) and a range of 1,000nm (1,850km). The aircraft is priced at $1.72 million until 30 June, when it will rise to $1.96 million. Cirrus plans to manufacture 75 Visions in the first year of production, "rising to a steady production rate of 125 aircraft a year", says Bentley.