Cirrus Becomes Bestseller

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Edges Cessna In Second Quarter Sales

Alan Klapmeier is the first to admit it's probably a temporary thing (there are significant technicalities involved), but the CEO of Cirrus Design also doesn't mind enjoying the distinction of running the top selling GA aircraft company in the world. Cirrus knocked off Cessna for top spot in sales in the second quarter according to stats compiled by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. This week, Cirrus sold its 350th new plane of '04, pushing the company to an average of 40 planes produced per month. Those numbers are more than 200% better than the same period in 2003 and more than 100 aircraft over the company's year-to-date target. "We think the aviation world is looking pretty good," said Klapmeier, whose company sold 129 airplanes in the second quarter. Cessna sold a total of 114 airplanes (including bizjets and Caravans). However, Klapmeier acknowledges a technicality likely launched Cirrus into first place and he's not expecting to be there long. Cessna and Diamond Aircraft both saw sales of their higher-end piston-singles shrink in the second quarter because they were waiting for FAA certification of the dozens of Garmin G1000 glass cockpit versions that had been ordered. Finished airplanes sat on the ramp for weeks and months waiting for that all-important paperwork and the planes didn't start heading to customers until after the end of June. Klapmeier said it's doubtful he could keep up with Cessna for the rest of the year, anyway, because his production of 542 aircraft is already sold out for the year and Cessna is predicting it will build about 600 planes.

What's more, if storm clouds are coming, Cirrus plans to fly around them. At some point in the near future, date and time unsure, Cirrus plans to offer customers satellite broadcast datalink weather. The XMWX option will be a package that will include satellite weather information from XM and instant lightning detection from StormScope. Weather updates will include NEXRAD, METAR, AIRMET, SIGMET, TFR and possibly other capitalized acronyms...