Cirrus reports growth despite uncertain economy
By Dan Namowitz of AOPA
Cirrus Aircraft reported increased production during the third quarter in an announcement that differentiated company performance from overall industry statistics showing a slowing rate of decline in aircraft deliveries
During the third quarter, Cirrus completed 68 new aircraft, seven more than during the third quarter of 2010, said Todd Simmons, vice president of sales and marketing. Although only 48 deliveries were reflected in the third-quarter industry report released by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, "an additional 20 aircraft were completed in Duluth, Minn., and are currently in transit to the Civil Aviation Flight University of China (CAFUC) in Luoyang, China," Cirrus said in a news release.
Cirrus cited market-share statistics and strengthening revenue as highlights of the reporting period, pointing to a 37-percent share of the single-engine piston, tricycle-gear, certified aircraft sector versus 32 percent for its closest competitor (which according to GAMA figures appears to be Cessna), and a 77-percent share of the high-performance four-seat airplane market. Average revenue per aircraft increased 20 percent over the 2010 third quarter, Cirrus said.
Cirrus also noted nonfinancial milestones that occurred during the period.
The company delivered its tenth and final Limited Commemorative Edition SR22T, a model developed to recognize the anniversary of the first SR22 delivery in 2001. Another landmark event occurred at AOPA Aviation Summit in Hartford, Conn., in September, when Cirrus delivered its 5,000th SR-Series airplane—a production achievement the company heralded as "an astounding accomplishment in aviation" because it occurred in "just over a decade."
Simmons ventured a cautious outlook for the industry, but also optimistic, "especially when you add in the most generous tax incentives ever for U.S. customers."
"At the same time, we are still facing the challenge of a stubbornly slow recovery in the traditional North American and European general aviation markets, and currency fluctuations and economic uncertainty remain present in so many countries around the world," the company said.
On the research and development front, Cirrus reported steady progress on the Cirrus Vision SF50 personal jet program, noting that "exciting program announcements are just ahead."
Engineers from Cirrus Aircraft gathered in Wisconsin this week to discuss a new aircraft engine that would run on diesel fuel.
According to a report from the Duluth (Minn.) News-Tribune, investors who attended the meeting were encouraged to boost Engineered Propulsion Systems Inc. so it can hire more employees to help develop an engine “that could propel the industry away from leaded fuels.”
The company hopes to finish design work and begin building an engine prototype that could be running by the middle of next year, the report quotes EPS President Michael Fuchs as saying.
Paul Johnston, the chief engineer for Cirrus, told the News-Tribune that the aircraft maker has spent the past decade working with various companies to roll out an engine that relies on an unleaded fuel available worldwide as the Environmental Protection Agency seeks to phase out 100LL.
“It really gives you hope that this will be the engine to power our airplanes into the next decade,” Johnston told the newspaper.
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