By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
Times are tough and money is tight, but the folks at Cirrus are committed to the Vision Jet project, and hope to start work on a conforming prototype by the end of this year, CEO Brent Wouters said on Wednesday. "For this year, we are working to secure additional funding so we can move faster," Wouters said in an update for position holders that was broadcast on the Web. The company has spent about $64 million so far on the project, and that's about halfway there. If the funding goals can be met, Wouters said, he hopes to spend 2011 building the conforming prototype, C-Zero. Once it flies, he estimates another 18 months to certification. The current test vehicle has flown about 270 hours, and over the winter completed extensive testing in real-world winter flying. Icing tests led to tweaks in the boot design, using a new urethane material that should shed ice better, according to Dave Rathbun, chief engineer for the project.
Rathbun also said that work is continuing to develop a full-aircraft parachute system for the jet. "This is a challenging and very high-risk portion of the project," he said. "We have to get it done right." Some scaled testing of proposed designs will take place this summer, he said, with parachute drop tests planned by the end of this year. So far the company has 431 orders for the jet, which is now priced at $1.72 million, said sales director Gary Black. Deposits taken since Jan. 1 are not refundable, though they can be used toward a new SR-22 up until June 30, he said. "That is a real deadline," he added. The current Vision Jet will fly at the Red Bull Air Races this summer in Windsor/Detroit and New York City, as well as at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh.