September 22, 2011
"We want our customers to be truly ecstatic about our products," said Dale Klapmeier, co-founder of Cirrus Aircraft, at AOPA Summit on Thursday, appearing in his new role as CEO. Klapmeier said he wants to promote GA to new customers not only because it's useful, but because it's fun. "We're in this business because having an airplane can transform your life," he said. He also said the new Chinese owners of the company, CAIGA, are reviewing the details of the Vision jet program and have not yet funded it. Pat Waddick, Cirrus COO, added, "It's a big interest for them." The jet is about three to three-and-a-half years away from being ready to start production, Waddick said.
Right now the company is working on various flight-test items for the jet. "We have fully explored the flight envelope," Waddick said. "We are doing additional natural icing testing this season. We also have a stick-pusher system that we will start testing soon." Other projects under way are materials and structures testing, and details such as the exact pitot-static-port locations. Testing of the parachute system is also continuing, he said, but it's very challenging due to the wide variations in speed and weight. It's not yet clear how to solve those issues, he said, but various possibilities are being considered. The company also announced this week that it has delivered its 5,000th piston airplane. The aircraft is on display at AirportFest at Brainard Airport, in Hartford, Conn. AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with Klapmeier at AOPA Summit on Thursday; click here for the podcast.