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One way or another, Cirrus Aircraft will find a way to complete its Vision jet and bring it to the market, CEO Brent Wouters and co-founder Dale Klapmeier said at a news conference Monday morning at EAA AirVenture. If that means selling the jet program to Alan Klapmeier to run as a separate company, that could be a “win-win” situation, they said, if it would help Alan to accelerate the process of raising the necessary capital. “Alan can bring a dedicated focus to the jet program … it could be a win-win for the company, for the product, and for the shareholders,” Dale Klapmeier said. Wouters emphasized that the company would not consider selling the jet to anyone else but Alan, since the jet would then remain “in the Cirrus family.” It would still be built in Duluth, and it would still be a step-up product for Cirrus piston owners. “We are working with Alan to see if this can happen,” Dale said. “It is not an easy task to raise the money.” Wouters said the jet program now remains on track to start deliveries in 2012, but that track is “capital dependent…. without external capital, that target is going to be difficult to hit.”
Dale also updated the flight-test progress on the jet. It now has over 200 hours on it, and some changes have been made to the design. The flaps will be lighter and simpler. The V-tail is now an X-tail. And they are working to make it handle more like a piston airplane, and less like a corporate jet, he said. For example, when power is added, because of the high thrust line, the nose tends to go down, while piston pilots are used to feeling a slight pitch up when adding power. Wouters said the company still has nearly 400 orders for the jet, although a few buyers have asked for their deposits back since the economic crunch set in last year.