- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) - An aviation company in Minnesota has won federal certification to build its new ‘Vision’ jet, meaning the Federal Aviation Administration won’t need to inspect and certify every plane coming off the production line.

Cirrus Aircraft’s seven-seat plane, with a distinct V-shaped tail and a nearly $2 million price tag, offers the speed and range of a larger jet, but is designed to be flown by the owner, Minnesota Public Radio (https://bit.ly/2pwfn7g ) reported.

“What that brings to the market is an acquisition cost and an operating cost that is truly in a category of its own,” said Ben Kowalski, a Cirrus Aircraft spokesman.

The company won federal certification after more than a decade designing and building the aircraft, weathering a major recession and securing $100 million from a Chinese-owned company to jumpstart the project.

“They’ve watched us enough to know that we can safely and smartly replicate the building process,” Kowalski said.

So far, five jets have been delivered to U.S. customers. Next week, a sixth is scheduled to be delivered to a European customer. Kowalski said customers have used the plans for both personal and business use.

Pat Waddick, Cirrus Aircraft’s president of innovation and operations, said the company is producing one jet a week at its Duluth facility and plans to speed up its production rate to three jets every two weeks later this year.

“We have over 600 very patient ‘Vision’ jet customers who have been waiting for us to deliver their airplanes,” Waddick said. “That’s an over billion-dollar book of business.”

The extra business has brought job growth at Cirrus’ facilities in Duluth; Grand Forks, North Dakota; and Knoxville, Tennessee. Employment has grown from about 470 to more than 1,100 since the company began ramping up its jet program five years ago. Waddick said the company plans to add more than 100 jobs over the next couple of years.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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