New "mid-sized" private jet unveiled

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A new type of business jet was unveiled at Salt Lake International Airport Friday: a single-engine private jet, made by Minnesota-based Cirrus Aircraft.

In automobile terminology, the plane would be considered "mid-sized." It's bigger than a single-engine prop plane but smaller than a Learjet or Citation.

The Vision SF50 is small, fast and it looks kind of cool, too.

Chairman and co-owner of Cirrus Aircraft Dale Klapmeier said, "It's for our customer who wants to go farther, faster, higher, carry a little bit more."

By the numbers: Cirrus Vision SF50
Seats: 7
Wingspan: 38.4 feet
Top speed: approx. 350 mph
Max operating altitude: 25,000 ft
Cost: Approx. $1.7 million
First flight: July 3, 2008
Ready for delivery: 2013

Klapmeier says the plane wasn't designed to be the typical business jet. He says to think of it as the family car that avoids congested highways but still gets you where you want to go quickly.

"When the owner is in the front left seat, you want to be a part of the conversation. This is a sedan. The people that you're travelling with are the same people you travel with in the car," Klapmeier said.

Cirrus is a well known brand to Utah pilots. The company has had offices here for the past 4 years. Cirrus, which has been building airplanes since the mid-‘80s, has many customers in the intermountain region. Friday's demonstration flight was for current customers and other aircraft owners thinking about something new.

Chief test pilot Mike Stevens said, "The design target is about 345 miles per hour. You can fly about 1100 statute miles with reserve fuel."

"So from here in Salt Lake, that's pretty much just one stop to anywhere in the country," said Klapmeier.

The cost of the SF50 is about $1.7 million. And, despite a challenging economy, Cirrus is onto something here, because more than 400 people have already made down payments to buy one.

"For the performance that this airplane will give, the efficiency, flexibility, the range, it is less expensive than anything else out on the market," Klapmeier said.

The plane that flew Friday is a prototype. There are still more refinements and testing to do yet. The plane is expected to be ready for delivery by 2013.



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Keith McCord


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