Preparations for production of the Cirrus Vision SF50 jet are bringing changes to the company’s Grand Forks, N.D., facility that will affect SR-2X series aircraft as well, Cirrus said Thursday. The company’s expansion includes the addition of an autoclave facility that will move some previously outsourced production “in-house.” Cirrus expects the autoclave to go online in mid-August, producing spars for both SR-2X series aircraft and the Vision SF50 jet and saving the company time and money over outsourcing. But customers may be more interested in the SF50 certification schedule.
The company announced in April that it is hoping to roll out its next version of the SF50 before year-end with certification flight testing to follow in 2014. The autoclave project may facilitate that and “was made possible with the assistance of funding from a loan” granted by Grand Forks Economic Development, Growth Fund Committee. Cirrus says the autoclave “creates the opportunity for future job growth.” It announced in February that it was hiring and at that time listed roughly 65 job openings online. The company did not note the cost of the autoclave but said it would save the company “several million dollars” over the next decade. An autoclave is basically a large-scale pressurized oven. Cirrus’ is capable of compressing composite parts with 125 psi of nitrogen gas during the cure cycle, increasing the part’s strength and longevity.