If You Own a BMW, You’ll Own a Jet Soon, Cirrus Bets
After 10 years of development and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, the single-engine jet maker is ready to corner the private jet market, according to Cirrus co-founder and CEO Dale Klapmeier. At $2 million, almost 50% less than its nearest competition, the Vision Jet is an aircraft for business men or women who are wealthy enough to afford one, and have plans to fly it themselves. The Vision is a jet meets BMW, whose goal is to make private travel both luxurious and accessible.
According to Ben Kowalski, Cirrus’s vice president of marketing and communications, the Vision jet is ideal for entrepreneurs or executives who are looking to hop from one meeting to another a city away, but be back with their families in time for dinner. The Vision Jet is what Cirrus calls a “personal jet.” It is designed to be flown by the owner. Most business jets, like the Embraer Phenom 100, require a pilot and co-pilot, and sometimes even a flight crew. The 30-foot-long Vision, requires only one person to operate.
The Vision is, so far, the industry’s most modern, technologically-advanced general aviation jet and is very easy to fly for those with a pilot’s license. When compared to its competitors like the Cessna Mustang and the Phenom, which will each put you out about $4 million, the Vision is a huge draw. Brothers Dale and Alan Klapmeier co-founded Cirrus in 1984 Baraboo, Wisconsin, in their parents garage. According to Alan, their goal was to make a plane comfortable enough so their wives would fly with them, and safe enough that the brothers wanted them to. The Vision Jet is just that… their vision, at long last, come alive.
But like any dream, Cirrus ran into some trouble while developing the Vision.
The great recession was a disaster for the private aviation industry and like many other companies, Cirrus didn’t escape unscathed. Private aircraft sales dropped to a depressing 600 from 1000 in previous years. Unfortunately, the industry is still feeling some of this loss, but enthusiasm among manufacturers and buyers is continuously rising. Cirrus was forced to fire hundreds of employees, and because of a fractured work-force, the company could not fund the development of the Vision. Alan left in 2009 to start a separate company, One Aviation.
In 2011, the China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Company (CAIGA) purchased Cirrus for $210 million and sunk $100 million into development for the Klapmeier brother’s jet. Since then, Cirrus was able to hire over 600 employees since resurrecting its Vision program in 2012. The company now has 1,100 employees their goal is to manufacture 100 Vision Jets a year. Cirrus was recently certified by The Federal Aviation Administration to start mass producing the Vision Jet.
Twenty years ago, the company took a big risk in releaseing their first production aircraft, the SR20. Today, this aircraft is the highest seller in its segment.” It’s clear that this is their goal for the Vision, as well. With six jets delivered to customers already and over 600 pre-ordered, Vision is on track to make that goal a reality. But the question is whether or not there’s a sustainable market for a “personal jet.” We mentioned previously that industry has not rebounded to the pre-recession highs, but the industry seems cautiously optimistic about consumer demand under since president Trump was elected in 2016.
According to industry specialists, there was a bump right after the election and the industry is “treading water” at a steady uptrend. The recovery, though slower than in the past, is promising for the industry and top aircraft marketing specialists suggest that people who are buying new Porsches and Mercedes, will also be purchasing the best and brightest in personal aviation… the Cirrus Vision.
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