March 30, 2011
Cirrus is showing off its limited edition SR22 at the Sun 'n Fun show this week, with a spiffy paint job and every imaginable option, but what everybody wanted to know about at Wednesday's news conference was, what's up with the China deal? "Is Cirrus going to move to China?" asked co-founder Dale Klapmeier, rhetorically. "Not gonna happen." China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co., which intends to become the new owner of Cirrus pending federal approvals, is made up of "real businessmen," Klapmeier said, and it doesn't make sense economically to ship parts to China to build airplanes for the U.S. market. Moving forward with the Vision jet is the top priority both for Cirrus and CAIGA, he said. He expects it will take up to three to six months for the deal to close. After that, he expects it will take about three years to bring the jet to market. Cirrus posted its latest update on the jet online this week.
Klapmeier said he doesn't see any obstacles ahead for getting the China deal approved, "but there are politics involved," so that brings an element of uncertainty. He said it was "disappointing" for the company when a Minnesota congressman, Chip Cravaack, raised questions about the deal due to national-security concerns. "His concerns are unfounded," Klapmeier said, adding that Cirrus doesn't have any unique technology that would be of use for military applications. Klapmeier also said both CAIGA and Cirrus share a vision to build up the company's offerings into a full line of aircraft. "We need multiple airplanes for multiple markets," Klapmeier said. "That's the best way to survive hard times in the future." He mentioned several possibilities for future development -- a trainer, a six-seater, something to fill the gap between the SR22 and the jet -- but later told AVweb that so far those plans are far in the future.