Having grown rapidly since it began delivering aircraft in 1998, Cirrus Design is laying off 20% of its staff in a bid to streamline production and reduce costs.

The Duluth, Minnesota-based company says the "short-term reduction" affects 127 staff as part of a plan to improve processes while integrating the uprated SR22 into the production line.

Cirrus delivered 111 aircraft in the last 18 months, and has a backlog of 639 orders, but adding the SR22 to the SR20 line has slowed production. The firstSR22 was delivered on 6 February. The firm wants to restructure production and restore output to one aircraft a day by April. Workers will be recalled "as production rates increase".

New rival Lancair delivered its first five Columbia 300 light aircraft last year and plans to build around 50 this year, including the first uprated Columbia 400s, against a backlog of around 140. The Bend, Oregon-based firm aims to build one aircraft a day within the year.

Cessna is still market leader, having delivered 912 single-engined piston aircraft last year, up from 899 in 1998, and booked orders for 1,010. Bad weather at its Independence, Kansas, plant meant Cessna fell short of its target of delivery of 970 aircraft.

New Piper Aircraft and Raytheon Aircraft saw more deliveries of piston-engined models last year: Piper shipped 377 aircraft, up from341; Raytheon delivered 153 compared with 145.

Source: Flight International