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Cirrus puts spotlight on personal jets

Cirrus puts spotlight on personal jets

The Cirrus Vision SJ50 single-engine personal jet arrived at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008 Wednesday for its world debut. The red and white V-tail single-engine jet made a low pass along the flightline before landing and taxiing up to a hero´s welcome at AeroShell Square.

EAA President and AirVenture Chairman Tom Poberezny welcomed the SJ50 to the fly-in and congratulated Cirrus Design co-founders Alan and Dale Klapmeier, who´ve been coming to the fly-in for 32 years, on their achievement.

"Oshkosh is the home of innovation, the place where Alan and Dale cultivated their passion for aviation," Poberezny said. "Now this beautiful aircraft is entering the marketplace, a growing and exciting marketplace."

"I almost can´t describe how excited it is to show this airplane to you here at this place," Alan Klapmeier said. "This is the greatest place in the world to be this week of the year, and for us this is a very long time coming, because it takes Cirrus to the next level."

"This is the place to introduce anything new in aviation," Dale Klapmeier added. "As far as we´re concerned, the EAA has saved aviation. It kept innovation alive, it kept the dream alive."

"We´re not trying to build a business jet; we´re not trying to build a VLJ; we´re trying to build a fan-powered aircraft that is higher performance than our piston airplanes, and at this point I think we´re getting close," Alan said.

Duluth, Minnesota-based Cirrus is not the only company seeking to provide more performance and capability for general aviation pilots. The Vision SJ50 is one example of the expanding Personal Jet (PJ) market, and several other examples are on display and making news at AirVenture. The same morning the SJ50 arrived, Piper Aircraft´s single-engine PiperJet made its maiden flight at the company´s Vero Beach, Florida, factory, as announced by Piper President Bob Kromer at a press conference at the fly-in.

"It´s a big day for Piper Aircraft," said Kromer in announcing the flight. "The PiperJet represents 71 years of a lot of hard work by a lot of people, and a lot of loyal customers that have seen us to this point."

The day before, Eclipse Aviation of Albuquerque, New Mexico, which pioneered the VLJ market with the twin-engine Eclipse 500, reiterated its commitment to producing its single-engine Eclipse 400, which was introduced as a "concept" aircraft at AirVenture 2007. The Eclipse 400 also performed for air show attendees during the day´s showcase fly-bys.

"Our full intent is to bring the Eclipse 400 to market," Matt Brown, Eclipse director, sales and marketing for the Eclipse 400, said at the forum.

And London, Ontario-based Diamond Aircraft is set to become the first manufacturer to deliver a personal jet when its D-Jet comes to market next year.

"Right now we´re on track to deliver and certify in the second quarter of 2009," said Mark Lee, director, sales and marketing for the D-JET, at the company´s display area.

With the arrival of Cirrus´s SJ50, AirVenture visitors can see the state-of-the-art of the PJ up close and personal. Here´s a profile of the four major PJ products attendees can see at the fly-in.


Powered by a Williams FJ33-4A-19 turbofan (upgraded from the initially selected -15 variant of the Williams turbofan), the five-place D-JET will have a maximum cruise speed of 315 knots and a service ceiling of 25,000 feet. Its maximum range, at its Long-range cruise speed of 240 knots, is 1,350 nautical miles. The company has not yet repriced the D-JET to reflect the upgraded engine, but the cost of the original configuration is about $ 1.5 million in current dollars.

"This broadens the number of people who can benefit from jet travel," Lee said. "It´s very attainable, safe, roomy on the inside, and very affordable."

See the D-JET at the Diamond Aircraft exhibit at Combo L in the Main Aircraft Display Area outside of Exhibit Hangar C.

Eclipse 400

The Eclipse 400, like the SJ50, has its engine mounted atop the fuselage just forward of a V-tail empennage. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F turbofan, its 41,000 foot service ceiling is the highest of this generation of PJs. Maximum cruise speed is 330 knots, and maximum range at its long range cruise speed of 290 knots is 1,250 nautical miles. Projected price for the Eclipse 400 is $ 1.35 million.

"Even at 25,000 feet, we outperform competitive jets," Brown said. "The performance capabilities are significantly better in all categories."

See the Eclipse 400 at the Eclipse Aviation exhibit in the Main Aircraft Display area, 253-259, 262-268.

Cirrus Vision SJ50

The Williams International FJ33-4A-19 fanjet is expected to deliver a maximum cruise speed of about 300 knots and will have a service ceiling of 25,000 feet. The aircraft features a flexible 5+2 seating configuration, and is designed for an easy transition for pilots of the company´s SR22 and SR22 Turbo, or from other high performance singles. Thus far the company has orders for more than 500 aircraft, and at the AirVenture welcoming ceremony, SATS Air, the air taxi company, announced it will add the SJ50 to its fleet. Cirrus projects certification and first deliveries will take place in 2011, at a price of around $ 1 million to $ 1.3 million.

"Our goal is to have an airplane that we can fly, that you can fly, that gives you more performance, but is closer to the personal aircraft you´re used to," Alan Klapmeier said.

See the Vision SJ50 at the Cirrus Design exhibit in the Main Aircraft Display area, 15-22. S-43.


With a projected maximum cruise speed of 360 knots, the PiperJet is the fastest of the PJs. Seating six (or seven without the standard lavatory), the Williams International FJ4-3AP turbofan engine will lift the jet to a service ceiling of 35,000 feet, and the aircraft´s maximum range is projected to be 1,300 nautical miles. Certification and the first delivery are expected in Q4 of 2011. The PiperJet is priced at .199 million in 2006 dollars.

"It´s a very big airplane with a big ramp presence," Kromer said at the Piper press conference, while also drawing attention to its all-metal construction. "We make most of the airframe without rivets. The wing is a thing of sheet metal beauty. Aluminum airplanes are not dead; we can make a smooth, aerodynamically clean airframe out of metal."

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