Cirrus Aircraft: a brief history of the global leader in personal aviation
Written by: Cirrus Aircraft UK
The story of Cirrus Aircraft is one of continuous innovation. Beginning in 1984 in a barn in Baraboo, Wisconsin, brothers Alan and Dale Klapmeier began working on what would become Cirrus Aircraft. Their first project was a home-built kit aircraft, the VK-30. The VK-30 celebrated its first flight in 1988 and then the company started delivering VK-30 kits to customers.
In 1994, Cirrus Aircraft moved into a new R&D facility in Duluth, Minnesota, and shortly thereafter, the Klapmeier brothers refocused their efforts on building a certified single-engine aircraft, the SR20. This clean-sheet design would revolutionise the world of general aviation. The sleek composite airframe featured side-yoke flight controls and advanced avionics with a groundbreaking moving map on a 10-inch multifunction display.
A desire to redefine safety in aviation inspired the company to include a revolutionary whole-plane parachute system as standard equipment on all Cirrus aircraft — the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System® (CAPS®). It was the industry’s first general aviation parachute system produced in an FAA-certified aircraft, and to date, Cirrus Aircraft continues to be the only company to include a whole airframe parachute as standard equipment on all certified aircraft models.
In 1999, the first SR20 was delivered in Duluth, Minnesota. With plans to increase production and develop a new aircraft model, Cirrus Aircraft expanded into a larger manufacturing facility adjacent to its R&D headquarters in Duluth, and in 2001, Cirrus Aircraft certified a new aircraft that could go farther, faster — the SR22.
Not long after, a complete glass cockpit was also added to the SR Series. It was the first primary flight display incorporated into a small certified aircraft and became an industry standard with other manufacturers following Cirrus Aircraft’s lead.
In 2002, the SR Series became the world’s best-selling general aviation aircraft for the first time and has continued to hold that distinction every year since, with Cirrus Aircraft delivering 539 SR Series aircraft in 2022. A turbocharged SR22T was added to the SR Series lineup in 2010.
Cirrus Aircraft also teamed up with Garmin in 2008 to launch the Cirrus Perspective by Garmin flight deck. This collaboration continues to provide progressive avionics improvement exclusive to Cirrus aircraft each year.
In 2007, Cirrus Aircraft revealed its plan to develop a personal jet and it quickly became the most anticipated aircraft in the company’s history. The Vision Jet took its inaugural flight on 3rd July 2008 and the first conforming prototypes took flight in 2014. The Vision Jet was FAA certified on 28th October 2016, becoming the first jet built by a single-engine piston aircraft company to be certified in 40 years.
Continuing the Cirrus tradition of innovation, the Vision Jet G2 was announced in 2019 with the ability to go higher and farther, then in 2021, the Vision Jet G2+ was announced with 25% increased takeoff performance. In 2022, the Vision Jet became the world’s best-selling personal aviation jet.
Today, 35 years after the first VK-30 flight, Cirrus Aircraft has delivered over 9,000 SR Series and 450 Vision Jets. As the sole distributor for the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man, Cirrus Aircraft UK is in a fortunate position to be able to support owners, right from their first demonstration or trial lesson, all the way through the flight training, order and delivery process, and provide them with advanced training to maximise the use of their aircraft.
Getting your pilot’s licence in time for your delivery is a perfect motivation, and with our Cirrus Training Centre and dedicated training aircraft, we will develop a package that allows you to maximise your time and consolidate your learning. In the UK, a Private Pilot’s Licence or ‘PPL’ can be earned with 45 hours of training. When you learn with Cirrus Aircraft UK, you get the aircraft and instructor for the day, and typically will fly four to five hours per day.
We often tell our owners that a Cirrus aircraft will change their life, and with such a safe, advanced, and remarkable aircraft, it’s easy to see why. Spontaneous weekends to Jersey or France, or perhaps use your aircraft to follow your other passions, whether skiing, golfing or racing.
To request a demonstration flight and to learn more about how aircraft ownership is easier than you may think, please drop us a note. It would be our pleasure to fly to your local airfield and show you our latest Cirrus aircraft.