Glass Airplanes Selling Like Hotcakes

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Cirrus Design Hits Record Sales...

When Cirrus Design announced last week that sales of its SR20 and SR22 aircraft set a new sales record in July, at 51 airplanes, the natural reaction was a warm and fuzzy feeling. Granted that 51 airplanes in a month is a drop in the bucket compared to GA's overall peak production -- back in 1979, GA manufacturers in the U.S. cranked out more than 1,400 units each month on average. (For 2003, total deliveries for the entire first six months amounted to 1,031 aircraft, averaging 171 per month.) GA shipments overall are still in decline, down 13.8 percent compared with the first half of last year, but perhaps other manufacturers should look into the Cirrus surge. The folks at Cirrus credit their new PR campaign and a beefed-up sales staff for the increase, which beat a previous one-month record of 42. John Bingham, Cirrus's executive vice president of sales, said traffic was consistently heavy at their display at EAA AirVenture, and the demo planes were booked solid every day. "This is the beginning of a trend," Bingham said in news release, adding that he expects that sales will continue to grow. Cirrus Design is based in Duluth, Minn., with an additional facility in Grand Forks, N.D.

...As Lancair Looks To The Future

Lancair also is offering good news of its own. Lancair announced at Oshkosh that the turbocharged Lancair Columbia 400 is ready to start flight-testing and said it's building one Columbia every four days, and continues to ramp up production. This follows last year's cash crunch that shut down the factory. Early this year, investors supplied the cash needed to restart production. "We've been making significant capital investments in the organization that will enable us to continue to produce aircraft rapidly, cost-efficiently and to a very high level of quality," said Lancair President Bing Lantis. "Our production ramp-up is on or a little ahead of schedule in all areas. We're right where we want to be." "We've got a lot of work to do," said Vice President Tom Bowen, "but the program is coming along nicely." The aircraft has added an extra 200 pounds to its gross weight, topping out at 3,600 pounds, for more payload capacity. Lancair has also added an optional, built-in oxygen system and Avidyne's FlightMax Entegra primary flight display and multi-function display. The 400 will fly at 260 mph, the company said.