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Cirrus Aircraft, CAIGA Complete Merger

By Ric Reynolds, News Editor, EAA 642317

Cirrusvision
Cirrus says itís recent merger with CAIG of China will accelerate completion of the its Vision Jet program.

June 28, 2011 –Cirrus Aircraft and China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. Ltd. (CAIGA) announced this morning that the two companies have completed their merger that was announced in February 2011.

In a news release, Brent Wouters, Cirrus president and CEO, stated, “We’re very excited to have joined forces with CAIGA. This partnership will benefit our business and our customers; we share with CAIGA a vision of worldwide growth. CAIGA has the resources that will allow us to expedite our aircraft development programs and accelerate our global expansion.”

Wouters also said that he expects the merger to deliver benefits in terms of jobs and job growth in the United States. “CAIGA will continue to invest in our employees and in our world-class production facilities in Minnesota and North Dakota.”

Cirrus Aircraft Co-Founder Dale Klapmeier called the completion of the merger an important milestone in the company’s history. “This is a very positive development that allows us to continue our mission to develop and build the best, most exciting aircraft in the world,” he said. “Through our merger with CAIGA Cirrus will continue to lead the industry in bringing increased safety, performance, and comfort to the general aviation community.”

Meng Xiangkai, CAIGA president, stated, “We are very impressed with Cirrus’ performance in the global general aviation industry. It has a very strong record of consistent product excellence, comprehensive safety features, an outstanding management team, and a highly skilled workforce who operate from advanced production facilities. We look forward to working with Cirrus’ management team to build upon its success and to expand production volume to further cement Cirrus’ leadership position in the global general aviation industry.”

New era begins
Tuesday morning’s announcement allows Cirrus to “turn the page” and get on with putting its collective energies behind accelerating its development plans, like completing the Cirrus Vision SF50 Jet program, Todd Simmons, vice president of communications for Cirrus, told EAA.

“Growing the industry, improving technology, making safer planes that are easier to fly – that’s always been our focus,” Klapmeier added. “We are now back in a position to accelerate our development plans after surviving the worst economic downturn in 25 years.”

In the short term, it will be business as usual with few changes, he said. “The management team and the workforce are in place. We’re getting back to focus on developing new products and services and taking care of our customers.”

In the longer term, the vision is to be in several different market niches with an entire line of aircraft products in all parts of the world, Klapmeier said.

Regarding the Vision Jet, Klapmeier remarked, “For the past couple of years we’ve been saying we’re three years away from funding the jet – three years of work to complete the project. We’re now ready to start that clock.”

Reaction from owner-customers
Reaction to the deal with CAIGA has been mostly positive from Cirrus customers, Simmons said. “Our customer-owners understand we now have the resources to accelerate development of programs and grow Cirrus,” he said. Simmons did acknowledge there were people who do not favor the merger, calling it another example of a Chinese company buying a U.S. business with a potential for relocating operations out of the U.S.

“The fact is, since 2001, Cirrus was majority-owned by (the Bahrain-based investment company) Arcapita,” Simmons explained. “Arcapita was a fantastic owner for Cirrus,” but it was not an aviation company; rather, Cirrus was part of the firm’s investment portfolio.

With the aviation company CAIGA there is a shared vision for growth and development for Cirrus, he added.

AirVenture Oshkosh 2011
Cirrus is always looking forward to the annual week of AirVenture, Klapmeier said. “It’s like Christmas – and the last day of AirVenture is like New Year’s Day, when we start planning for the next Christmas,” he said.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the SR22; for nine of those years, Cirrus claims the SR-22 was the best-selling four-place piston aircraft the industry. A limited commemorative edition of the aircraft will be on display and on sale in Oshkosh, Simmons said.

As for scheduled events, Cirrus has traditional Sunday evening gathering to kick off the Oshkosh event, and there’s a 1:45 p.m. media briefing set for opening day Monday, July 25.

On August 11-14 the annual Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association’s Migration Fly-In and Expo is set for Colorado Springs at Colorado Front Range Airport.

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