Cirrus Aircraft has revealed that it is now seriously considering a proposal from co-founder and chairman Alan Klapmeier to accelerate the Vision SF50 personal jet programme by splitting it from the rest of the company.
"We're trying to work with Alan to see if this is something that will happen," Cirrus co-founder and vice chairman Dale Klapmeier told reporters today during a press briefing at AirVenture 2009 in Oshkosh.
A month ago Cirrus executives indicated it was unlikely they would accept Alan Klapmeier's proposal to establish a new company with new investors to take over the SF50 programme. But today while acknowledging the deal would be difficult to complete, executives said separating the jet from Cirrus, which is majority owned by Arcapita Bank, could be a win-win for customers and shareholders.
"It comes down to funding the programme," Dale Klapmeier says. "As the company has grown you start to separate focus. This is a product that needs a dedicated focus."
But he adds that Cirrus will only consider Alan Klapmeier's proposal and will not entertain other offers to take over the SF50. "He's the only person we'd consider," Dale Klapmeier says. "It will still be a step up product for Cirrus. It will still be part of the family. ... We're not going to give it to Wichita."
Dale Klapmeier says if the programme is sold to a group of new investors lined up by Alan Klapmeier, Cirrus would still retain a stake in the SF50 project.
Having dropped its proposed light sport aircraft product earlier this year, Cirrus is now focusing all its resources on the Vision. But Cirrus currently lacks the funds to meet its 2012 target for entry into service.
"Without external capital that will be extremely difficult to hit," Cirrus chief executive Brent Wouters acknowledges.
But Wouters adds Cirrus is prepared to bring the SF50 market on its own and is not assuming the deal proposed by Alan Kapmeier will be completed. "From my perspective every prospective deal is a long shot," he says.
Dale Klapmeier says the SF50, which is at Oshkosh for the second consecutive year, has now flown over 200 hours. Cirrus has made some modifications since AirVenture 2008, including changing the flaps, but is confident the aircraft now has a robust design.
"We're very comfortable with where that is at," Dale Klapmeier says.