Cirrus has lost access to its Vision SF50 jet prototype over concerns about the export status of the Williams FJ33 engine following the company's acquisition by a Chinese company. The single-engine SF50 will remain in Williams' possession until the US State Department determines whether design data on the FJ33-4A-19 engine can be shared with a foreign-owned company, Brent Wouters, president and chief executive of Cirrus, said.
Williams initiated the request for a jurisdiction review to the State Department shortly after Chinese Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA) acquired Cirrus on 28 June, Wouters said."That jet today is at Williams because of the fact that it's [now] foreign-owned," Wouters said. As a precaution, Cirrus employees have not had access to the prototype Vision aircraft or the FJ33 engine since Williams made the request to the state department, he added.
Wouters said the company had already completed flight tests with the aircraft, so the lack of access should not impact the programme's overall schedule. He added that the review could force Cirrus to re-engine the Vision jet if the export control officials classify the FJ33-4A-19 as a military item. The key concern for export-control officials over the engine's technology is the full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system, he said.
However, Wouters is confident the FJ33 will remain a commercial item and a re-engining programme will not be necessary. The state department's decision process could take as long as six months, he said. State department officials are tasked in the export control review process of deciding which products should be added to the US Munitions List.
Items on the list are not automatically banned, but they must be manufactured under a controlled process in compliance with International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).