looking good

BUSINESS: Cirrus future looks bright Airplane manufacturer expects profit in first quarter of 2003

Associated Press

Grand Forks Herald

© Copyright 2002, Grand Forks Herald. All Rights Reserved.

DULUTH - Cirrus Design Corp. expects to earn a profit in the first quarter of next year after more than doubling its production in the past 18 months, according to the airplane manufacturer.

“This company is on the verge of sustainable profitability,” said Brent Wouters, Cirrus chief financial officer. “We’re well capitalized looking into the future with over one year of backlog.”
In 2000, it took Cirrus workers 6,000 hours to produce a single aircraft. Now, it takes 1,900 hours.

On average, the company completes work on nearly two aircraft per business day, up from an average of one aircraft per day in December 2001.

Right behind CessnaCirrus President and CEO Alan Klapmeier said Sunday that his company delivered 108 airplanes between April and June, just three fewer than Cessna, the nation’s largest manufacturer of four-seat aircraft.

Klapmeier said he’s optimistic Cirrus’ production will surpass Cessna’s in the third quarter of this year.

Cirrus projected $120 million in revenue this year and forecast $215 million in 2003. The company employs 775 people - 550 in Duluth, 30 in Hibbing and 190 in Grand Forks.

The company’s design of a revolutionary new airplane equipped with an emergency parachute has been well-received by pilots. Cirrus has about 455 airplanes on order, and some would-be customers have been waiting three to four years.

Wouters said Cirrus wants to see the lead time for orders eventually reduced to 60 days.

When construction of a $5.8 million building is completed this summer, Cirrus will gain 70,000 square feet of space in Duluth, boosting local shop floor space by nearly 50 percent.

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