Cirrus Aircraft CEO Dale Klapmeier says the investment philosophy of the Chinese fits perfectly with the aviation business. "They're in it for the long term," Klapmeier said during a podcast interview at AirVenture Oshkosh on Monday. It's been a year since China's CAIGA bought a controlling interest in the Duluth planemaker and Klapmeier, who co-founded the business with his brother and former CEO Alan, said it's that long-term commitment that has re-energized the company. "It's changed our outlook on the industry [and] our capabilities," he said. Along the way, he said, CAIGA representatives have caught the enthusiasm that is typical of those involved in the aviation industry and are realizing how important GA is to the economy of the U.S. and the future economy of China. They are especially enthused about the resumption of work on the Vision Jet.
Klapmeier said the prototype has been "flying a lot" in the preliminary flight test program and has almost 600 flights and 600 hours logged to date. The next step is building a type conforming aircraft to get the certification flight testing under way. To build that aircraft, the production tooling for the composite parts has to be built and it takes time. He said first flight of the conforming aircraft is planned for late 2013.