Updated: 03/25/2014 10:09 PM
Created: 03/25/2014 9:33 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
Cirrus Aircraft is pushing the throttle with their new jet named the Vision. After years of development the plane took it's first test flight on Monday.
Cirrus has been an aviation leader since creating a plane with carbon fiber instead of aluminum, but those have all been propeller planes. The Vision will add a jet to the company's fleet.
Test Pilot Mike Steven is excited about the milestone.
“It turns out it's a lot easier to fly than the prop airplanes, which are already fairly easy to fly. It's smooth, it's quiet, it's a jet, it's cool,” Stevens said.
He says the Vision will be unique in the personal aircraft industry.
“You can fly higher, you can fly faster, you can fly farther and carry more stuff,” Steven said.
He said the first flight was smooth, but the single hour of fly-time took years of work and dedication from engineers like Paul Brey, Senior Vice President of Product Development for Cirrus.
“There's people here that have a decade of their life tied up in this. A plane doesn't happen quickly. I doesn't happen overnight, especially a good one, and this is going to be a good one,” Brey said.
He leads the team developing the Vision, and he is proud Cirrus could bring more jobs to Duluth with the project.
“When the economy went bad in 2008 we slimmed down to actually about 14 people on the project, and now we've staffed up to about 250,” Brey said.
Hundreds more work at Cirrus on the company's other models, but every employee was able to sign the wing of the Vision test plane. CEO Dale Klapmeier said they will take pride in the accomplishment, but he also wants to thank Duluth for supporting aviation.
“That goes to the whole community. Everybody in this community should be proud of what's being accomplished from this community, and from the people here. That's who's getting this airplane in the air,” Klapmeier said.
He said the Vision should be ready for customers late next year, but Cirrus will have to build two more test planes for Federal Aviation Administration testing.
Duluth history will remember the first personal jet took off from Duluth International Airport, and the Vision will keep aviation soaring here in the Northland.
“Duluth is an aviation hub in this country, and I think we'll always be that,” Klapmeier said.
The list price for the Vision is nearly $2 million, and Cirrus leaders say over 500 customers have already reserved one.
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