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Another Small Jet Enters the Market

While not direct contact to the Triad’s Hondajet … it is another small jet aircraft being certified.  The Cirrus Vision jet is slower, carries less people, and will not fly at the altitudes of the Hondajet.

Cirrus Aircraft’s new SF-50 Vision jet is still a few months away from receiving Federal Aviation Administration certification. But production of the groundbreaking small personal jet has been underway for some time.  Components for the light jet started being made a year ago at the company’s Grand Forks, N.D., plant, then trucked to the Cirrus headquarters at the Duluth International Airport. There, assembly work began last April.
Today, one end of the 275,000-square-foot production building is dedicated to Vision jet assembly and testing. One large area is dotted with raw fuselages for testing and design.  One fuselage stands out, getting the most attention. It’s farther along with production assembly workers starting to install its mechanical systems. Labeled “P1,” it will be the first Vision jet to come down the production line — probably this spring. Its gleaming white wing rests on a stand nearby.  In a separate area, crews work on the fuselages of the Vision jets to follow. Large ovens are used to bond the plane’s all-carbon-fiber components together to create a lighter, stronger plane.
Cirrus had aimed for FAA certification and first customer delivery of the jet in late 2015. But the expected certification process is complicated for such a new category of plane, explained Bill King, Cirrus’ vice president of business administration. Cirrus has three conforming planes that have been undergoing rigorous flight, systems, icing and other testing since 2014.

“Certifying this kind of plane is a lot of work,” King said. “It’s a clean-sheet aircraft.”

With certification pushed back a few months, a production ramp up also is pushed back. Despite 600 orders for the $1.96 million jet, that delay isn’t necessarily a bad thing. More jet production space is needed at Cirrus’ main plant in Duluth, where its SR-20 and SR-22 series of single-engine piston planes also are assembled.

Cirrus’ Vision jet will fill the gap between high-performance propeller planes and light business jets, creating a new category in general aviation.  The single-engine jet, which seats five adults and two children, sports a distinctive V-shaped tail. It is designed for regional travel and personal business use andfeatures advanced technology, avionics and luxury features similar to Cirrus’ piston-powered planes. The jet will reach speeds of more than 300 knots or 345 mph and will be able to fly 1,200 miles before refueling.

Filling the current 600 orders for the Vision jet will take several years. But in the end, the jet’s sales will boost Cirrus’ revenue by a total of $1.2 billion, King said.

Windecker Eagle to fly again

General Aviation News

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — The restoration of a rare Windecker Eagle is expected to be completed this summer. Once done, it will be the only airworthy example of the first composite aircraft certified by the FAA, according to the men working on the project. Reportedly, it was also the first aircraft certified under the rules for Part 23.

Pre-restoration

Designed and developed in the 1960s by two dentists, Leo Windecker and his wife, Fairfax, the Eagle first flew in 1967 and was certified two years later at a cost of $20 million. After building two prototypes and six copies of the Eagle, the company ran out of money and shut down its production line.

Commissioned by a Chinese entrepreneur, Wei Hang, the restoration team, headed by Don Atchison, and led by Mike Moore and Dennis Hallman, was able to purchase two copies of the Eagle that had been outdoors for many years and left in storage for decades.

Restoration underway

“Had it not been for a special UV coating on the fiberglass, the structure would have dissolved a long time ago,” said Atchison. “The fiberglass has actually held up much better than the metal components in the airframe. We’ve replaced most everything from the firewall forward, and refurbished to ‘better than new’ the landing gear, flight controls and mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and fuel systems. The windows, windshield and interior will be completely new and there will be a number of upgrades in the panel when it flies again.”

Resto new engine“Mr. Hang was attracted to the Windecker Eagle because of its historical significance, rarity, style and performance,” said Atchison. “He will own a truly unique aircraft when it’s finished and flying again.”