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Cirrus to reveal jet future in January

Capitalised by its new China-based owner - China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA) - Cirrus plans to reveal certification and production plans for its SF50 Vision single-engined jet in January.

"CAIGA is fully on board with the programme," said Vision sales director Gary Black. "It's definitely going to happen, but we have not yet published a timeline."

CAIGA, the general aviation arm of AVIC, completed its 100% acquisition of Cirrus in June, but officials did not reveal long-term plans for the SF50, other than to say the programme had a bright future.

Black said Cirrus has booked "just under" 500 orders for the SF50 to date, based on $50,000 non-refundable deposits that have been coming in at a rate of about one a week. The deposit locks buyers into a $1.72 million price for a "well-equipped" Vision, said Black, although buyers can use up to half the deposit to buy an SR22 as interim lift or training until their jet is delivered. After delivery, Cirrus will take the SR22 back in trade at "somewhere between wholesale and market value", Black said.

The prototype SF50 was flying three to four times a week until November, accumulating 650h on the engine and airframe. It also completed a run through of all aspects of the future US Federal Aviation Administration certification flight-test programme, except for parachute deployment.

Credit: Cirrus

"We've been through the entire flight-test envelope, including ice testing," said Black, adding that the V-tailed design has gone through "two winters" of ice testing, including tests with ice shapes attached to surfaces as well as in natural icing. Black said the FJ33-4A-19 engine has been shipped back to Williams International for a tear-down inspection.

Black said nothing came of a US State Department review of potentially sensitive design details on the engine in the prototype SF50 requested by Williams this summer. "It never seemed to be a problem. It was only an issue because the engine was not yet certified," he said.

Before the official flight-test programme can begin, Cirrus has to build production tooling and conforming aircraft. Black said plans are to build three flight-test aircraft: an aerodynamic conforming aircraft, followed by an aerodynamics and systems conforming aircraft, and then an aerodynamics, systems and avionics-conforming ship.

Most of the SF50 design is "locked in", said Black, although latching mechanisms, angles of avionics displays and other "tweaks" are on-going.

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