Cirrus has completed its controversial merger with China's state owned general aviation product and services company CAIGA, paving the way for the US airframer to expedite product development, notably of the SF50 personal jet, and to expand its aircraft portfolio and accelerate global expansion.

The sale of Cirrus to the AVIC subsidiary was hotly contested by a small band of US-based critics who objected to the airframer - the world's largest piston aircraft maker - coming under the ownership of a Chinese company. A group, led by aviation analyst Brian Foley, submitted an unsolicited bid to acquire Bahraini-owned Cirrus and restore its US ownership. The proposal was later shelved. Responding to the completed merger, Foley says: "We, along with much the US general aviation community are disappointed that Cirrus, an integral part of our national aviation heritage, will not be a distinctively American company." The group will not challenge the sale to CAIGA, he concedes. "For us it ends here. We were in a good position to at least try and organise another bid. During the process our investors informed us that they preferred to first wait and see if the existing offer proceeded to fruition, which it did. If it hadn't the investors would have reevaluated the situation."

For Cirrus president Brent Wouters, the "anti-Chinese sentiment" is completely unfounded. "This is a terrific opportunity for Cirrus to grow around the world and strengthen its balance sheet," he said.

Cirrus will remain in the USA, Wouters says and may eventually open a second assembly line in China when the Chinese market accounts for a significant portion of its annual sales.

Cirrus will now step up development of its flagship SF50 Vision personal jet for which its has around 430 orders. "The Vision is our key focus," says Wouters. "We hope to bring it to market within three years."

The four-seat single engine aircraft has chalked up around 350 flight hours to date at Cirrus' Duluth Minnesota base, where parachute testing for the Williams FJ33-4A-19-powered Vision is underway.

Source: Flight International