The private jet industry is highly competitive, one in which companies will utilize any advantage to maintain existing clients while also luring in new ones. Which makes the fact that Cirrus — a Duluth, Minn.-based aviation company — has come out with the world’s most affordable private jet something that will turn heads in the industry.
After roughly a decade of development, Cirrus is beginning to deliver their first batch of SF50 Vision Jets to the more than 600 customers who were the first to purchase them (the inaugural plane arrived in Switzerland around mid-May of this year). The company received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification late last year, which not only paved the way for Americans to purchase the jet, but for foreign buyers to lobby their government for a proper flying certification (FAA-certified private jets can quickly receive the required paperwork to fly in and out of foreign countries).
Yet, the path to distributing their first aircrafts wasn’t always a clear flight. Cirrus hit some serious turbulence along the way, particularly during the economic downturn of 2008. “When the economy took a hit, we had to slow down our efforts quite a bit,” says Dave Rathbun, Chief Engineer at Cirrus, which makes several other aircraft models in addition to the SF50 Vision. “It wasn’t until about four years ago that we were able to get the program fully funded, which meant we could properly restaff and get through the final phase of developments.” While the first sales have gone to buyers in Europe and North America, Cirrus is courting clients from around the globe. “We are keying in on markets ranging from South America to South Africa,” says Rathbun.
Cirrus’s SF50 Vision Jet cost $1.96 million. That means for roughly two million dollars, owners have access to a private jet that can carry five adults and two children between a range of 1,000 and 1,200 miles in distance at 28,000 feet in the air, while cruising at 345 m.p.h. In other words, enough to get from New York to Miami in about three hours. This is all the more impressive when you consider a used private jet made by different airlines such as Gulfstream or Embraer can sell for upwards of $10 to $12 million.