The first Cirrus Vision Jet produced for commercial sale was presented to its buyer Monday during an elaborate ceremony at the company’s new production facility near Duluth International Airport.
“It’s a major milestone to deliver the first airplane. This is a major step in the growth of our company,” said Cirrus co-founder and CEO Dale Klapmeier, who credited company employees for reaching the goal. “It’s about what you have accomplished.”
The aircraft, a personal jet, was purchased by Joe Whisenhunt, an Arkansas commercial real estate developer who previously has bought and flown 10 Cirrus propeller planes for business and personal use.
“This will allow me to branch out a lot further,” he said about the Vision Jet.
The single-engine personal jet was certified late in October by the Federal Aviation Administration. It features the signature Cirrus features include a whole airframe parachute system and carbon fiber airframe. Its cruising speed exceeds 300 knots.
“What a day and what a vision,” said U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan. “It’s just a great day for all of us to celebrate. Hats off to Dale Klapmeier for his vision, his determination.”
The city, state and federal government worked with Cirrus to launch the new product, said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who worked with Congress to write legislation that streamlines the certification of newly designed aircraft. Pete Bunce, president and chief executive of the General Aviation Manufacturer’s Association, deemed the effort “the best example of how politics should be run.” Klobuchar and Nolan, he said, “reached across the aisle in both the Senate and the House, and got together with Republicans and passed legislation unanimously in 2014 to support this industry. This got the FAA’s attention. Last Friday (Dec. 9), the rule was finalized.”
“This was truly a team effort. It’s a win-win,” Klobuchar said. “We are hopeful we’ll be able to work with the new administration on whatever comes before us including implementing new rules and working ahead in a real positive way for new aircraft, because it’s such a big part of the economy up here. You (employees) care about your work and you are devoted to this company.”
About 600 orders for the jet, priced at about $2 million, have already been placed with Cirrus. It is being constructed in a new 60,000-square-foot facility owned by the city of Duluth. About $4 million was invested in the building by the state of Minnesota, with the remaining $6 million to originate through Cirrus lease payments to the city.
“We are so grateful and proud of Cirrus,” said Mayor Emily Larson. “Truly, the adventure is just beginning.”