Cirrus Unveils Seven-Place Personal Jet

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Cirrus Design unveiled the mockup of its single-engine V-tail jet, with seating for up to seven people, at a media reception at its Duluth, Minn. headquarters on Thursday. The aerodynamically sculptured design includes a variety of innovations that will definitely make it stand out on any ramp, but its striking looks are a side benefit of some practical design, according to Cirrus CEO Alan Klapmeier. "We didn't do it just to make it look cool," Klapmeier told AVweb. "We wanted people to know that there are sound reasons behind the design." Cirrus designers opted to mount the engine on top of the fuselage for easy access, fire and turbine blade containment and for easy load balancing. The V-tail makes way for the thrust from the Williams FJ33 turbofan, which is expected to push the aircraft to about 300 knots. The engine is also mounted flush with the 20-degree slope of the aircraft's back and the thrust is vectored to point it in the right direction. Big straight wings with large control surfaces will make the aircraft easy to fly, says Klapmeier. The placement of the engine caused a design dilemma. It occupies space normally taken by the whole-airplane parachute that is standard on all Cirrus piston airplanes. In the jet, the chute is in the nose and the straps tear up through the center division of the windshield, which will undoubtedly make pulling that handle even more memorable. The aircraft also sports substantial winglets, which will enhance aileron authority at slow speeds and boost fuel efficiency.

Comfort, Convenience Key To Cirrus Jet's Cabin Design

Although the-jet by Cirrus is comparable in size to many four- and five-place jets, the cabin will actually hold up to seven people in admittedly close, but still relatively comfortable, quarters. In normal configuration, the plane is configured for five passengers, with a unique rear seat that allows the middle passenger to slide back about 12 inches so that all three in the back have plenty of elbow room. If the whole family is headed out, there is room for two more (kids or small adults) behind the three-abreast rear seat. Another unusual feature is full-sized doors on each side that allow walk-aboard access. Klapmeier said he hates having to climb over and between seats to get on an aircraft and the two-door configuration eliminates that. Because of the design, six-footers in the back seat have plenty of room to stretch out with the seats reclined. Although the final design of the cockpit hasn't been determined, there's the typical automotive feel to the front-seat area that is a feature of Cirrus piston products. The mockup seems to emphasize that this is a single-pilot aircraft by clustering the instruments toward the left side and a full glass panel will be standard (vendor not yet named). Sidesticks move the control surfaces and the rudder pedals are big enough for a basketball player's feet.

What We Don't Know About The Cirrus Jet

Cirrus has kept its jet project mostly under wraps for almost five years and there are still a lot of questions. Klapmeier declined to discuss the timeline, the cost or detail the projected performance of the jet, mostly because he said he didn't know. He said they're still hoping to produce the jet for around $1 million, but the other variables will affect the final figure. Naturally, with seven people aboard, the plane won't go as far or as fast when only one person is on board, but that, he says, is the beauty of the design. "It's all about flexibility," he emphasized. If the typical use of Cirrus' piston products is any guide, much of the-jet's time will be spent carrying one or two people, just like most SUVs rarely qualify for the high occupancy lane on the freeway. Although not detailed at the news briefing, the kind of utility that the company is demanding from the aircraft will likely require known icing capability and the ability to land on short fields. Klapmeier told the crowd on Thursday that he wants to be able to land on grass strips, and he didn't appear to be kidding. So far, reaction to the design has been positive, according to position holders AVweb spoke with. Cirrus jet position holder Wyn Lewis said the innovation and thoughtful design made him more anxious than ever to get his airplane.