CIRRUS WORKFORCE GROWS BY 50 PERCENT
PLANE MAKER GETS ORDER FOR 25 SR22S
Grand Forks Herald
© Copyright 2002, Grand Forks Herald. All Rights Reserved.
DULUTH – Cirrus Design Corp. expects to reach a new production milestone this month, two airplanes per day, as it works to build more than 500 airplanes on backorder and fill a new 25-plane order from AirShares Elite.
The Grand Forks plant has reached its own milestone, increasing its workforce by 50 percent in the past few months.
The Duluth plant’s success depends on the Cirrus plant in Grand Forks, which transports all of its parts to Duluth for assembly. If Duluth is making two planes a day, then Grand Forks is performing at a rate higher than equivalent, said Grand Forks plant manager John Hitchcock. Duluth can’t make the planes unless we get them the parts.
Overall, Cirrus employs about 735 people; 188 in Grand Forks. The Grand Forks plant employed just 125 people as recently as December. Cirrus also has a plant in Hibbing, Minn.
Cirrus employs 525 people in Duluth, and that number is expected to grow by a few hundred when work on a new 63,000-square-foot manufacturing plant is completed late this summer. The company also will continue use of its 140,000-square-foot plant in Duluth.
By this time next year, King said Cirrus wants to be producing three airplanes daily.
CIRRUS ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK THAT AIRSHARES HAD ORDERED 310-HORSEPOWER SR22S WORTH MORE THAN $7 MILLION.
Bob Rosenburg, AirShares’ executive vice president, said the Atlanta-based company already has seven SR22s in its fleet and wants to take possession of the 25 additional planes within the next 12 months.
CIRRUS AND SOME OF ITS STAFF HAVE MADE THEIR POSITIONS FOR PLANES THEY ORDERED AVAILABLE TO AIRSHARES SO OTHER CUSTOMER ORDERS WON’T BE DELAYED, SAID BILL KING, CIRRUS’ VICE PRESIDENT.
AirShares sells fractional ownership in airplanes. For $50,000, a person can obtain a one-eighth ownership stake in an airplane that qualifies its holder to fly any of the airplanes in AirShares’ fleet for about 75 hours a year. The company’s typical customer is a pilot who flies between 60 and 65 hours per year. AirShares handles the scheduling, maintenance, fueling and storage of airplanes.
Fractional ownership already is huge in the jet market, but it’s just beginning in the single-engine market, Rosenburg said.
The price of Cirrus airplanes, which come equipped with a parachute for emergency landings, was increased 5 percent on April 1. The base price for the 160-horsepower Cirrus SR20 is $207,800; it’s $289,400 for the SR22.
Rosenburg said the speed, advanced design and unique safety features of the SR22 made it a natural choice for AirShares.
Herald staff writer Jake Weyer contributed to this report.
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