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Cirrus Vision SJ50 Comes to Life

In the early 1990’s Alan and Dale Klapmeier started to ponder what their line of personal aircraft would look like. Certainly the brothers would capitalize on the void of innovation that existed within the general aviation industry, at that time. But already the idea of a single engine jet was perculating in the minds of the Klapmeiers and, soon, conversations began with Dr. Sam Williams of Williams International.

It was clear even then, the Cirrus line would not be stopping at piston engines- only one plane at a time, and the SR20 hit the design boards and the idea of a jet was tucked away for just a bit.

The Klapmeiers had plenty to focus upon, between design, certification and then impending ramping up for production of the highly awaited SR20, but by the late 1990’s the single-engine jet, as the wave of the future, never quite left their minds.

Dr. Williams personally visited the Duluth, MN headquarters for an on-site discussion of the possibilities even before the new century came around. Having a bit of the nick himself, he and the Klapmeier Brothers began to clear the way for a smart, efficient, quiet, and clean burning single jet engine that would one day power the Cirrus “personal jet” to market, however, there was a lot of work do be done in the meantime.

We are well aware of what happened to the Cirrus piston family of aircraft, as the SR20 and SR22 forever changed the landscape of general aviation, with the SR22 being the most favorite of pilots all over the world for six straight years in a row. Where would Cirrus find time to develop a jet?

In March 2003, quietly, in a closed gas station in the western part of the City of Duluth, Cirrus Advanced Development design engineer, Mike Van Staagen, was painstakingly, drawing, cutting and pasting hundreds of Styrofoam pieces into what was to become the first model of a single engine jet, by Cirrus. In the very beginning the distinct V-Tail and a large, smooth, dolphin shaped fuselage were featured.

By October 2003, a full-sized version of the fuselage was moved to a locked room at Cirrus. Later, at the AOPA Expo press conference, Alan Klapmeier announced Cirrus was indeed looking into developing a personal-jet. Soon after this announcement, a small team of Cirrus employees were moved to the program to assist Van Staagen in the interior design.

At the Cirrus Owners Pilots (COPA) Fly-In in 2006, Cirrus told the crowd that indeed a single-engine jet was in the works. In a statement made by Cirrus Chairman and CEO Alan Klapmeier, “It is official; we are pursuing our vision of what will be the slowest, lowest flying single-engine personal jet in the market. It will be full of utility, and will carry aboard a Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS). As Dale and I have talked over the years about ‘when we do the jet’, we will simply call this aircraft “the-jet” by Cirrus until we come up with another name.”

Enter Cirrus into the jet age
Enter Cirrus into the jet age. Position deposits came in immediately, even though no one, except a very few, actually knew what the airplane would look like. This came as no surprise to Cirrus followers.

One year later, with much excitement and anticipation of hundreds of position holders Cirrus unveiled a full-size mach-up. No one was disappointed…”the-jet” was indeed gorgeous.

Drawing from the knowledge of building over 4000 composite airplanes, tooling and fixtures were designed and built for Verification 1 (V1), the flying test article. By the end of May, 2008, painted in crimson red over white, the-jet was nearly ready for first flight. Late in June high speed taxis began and everything was pointing to the inaugural first flight.

"It is about having a total package offering safety, comfort, performance and making it easier for the customer to fly our aircraft.”
Mike Van Staagen - Cirrus Advanced Development design engineer

Alan Klapmeier, Chairman/CEO of Cirrus was very careful to not rush the aircraft into the air until everyone was ready. “The most important thing for us was to make sure everyone on the team was prepared. That is why we kept the date for first flight quiet. Dale and I wanted to be sure it was about safety so there was no pressure to perform on a certain date.”

On July 3, in a cirrus cloud filled sky, at the Company’s world headquarters in Duluth, MN, N280CJ’s wheels left mother earth at about 9:50 AM. It was a momentous day for Cirrus Design Corp. and perhaps even for general aviation. What has happened since July 3 has been a bit of a whirlwind for the Cirrus personal jet. Now “the-jet” has a bona fide name, Cirrus Vision SJ50. Vision also made it’s first public appearance flying into EAA’s AirVenture on July 30th. According to Klapmeier, “there was always a crowd around Vision, and it was fun to see everyone taking pictures. But we also had the full-size mach-up and there was a continual line of people waiting their turn to sit in it.”

The Vision SJ50 is quinte essential Cirrus, through and through. It encompasses all of the safety, comfort, performance and ease of flight features found on the SR family, just taken to a new dimension. This is most evident in the size of the interior.

Klapmeier went on, “We believe it’s not just about the pilot, flying is about everyone who is in the airplane and what passengers experience is every bit as important as the pilot. So we paid lots of attention to the utility of Cirrus Vision.”

The 5 plus 2 seating configuration allows for an extraordinary
amount of utility

The 5 plus 2 seating configuration allows for an extraordinary amount of utility. Van Staagen said, “We spent a great deal of time and effort to get the interior just right. When you design an airplane all sorts of decisions are made and everything is a compromise. We think we do a good job at taking a look at the whole picture of wants and needs, then honing in on what really matters, and is most important for our customers. It is about having a total package offering safety, comfort, performance and making it easier for the customer to fly our aircraft.”

If there is a trick in discovering what the perfect package is, no one could dispute, Cirrus seems to have found it.

Read more about: Cirrus

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