A lot has been made in the last few days about Duluth's Cirrus aircraft company's unveiling of new financing to make the world's first "personal jet."
It's big news for the Northland, which figures to gain a few jobs out of making the jet.
The announcement, curiously, wasn't made in the United States. It was made at an air show in Germany. Cirrus, which dominates many of the airshow exhibits in the U.S., blew off Sun 'N Fun in Florida this year, an indication, perhaps, that the market for the jet is primarily overseas.
Is there a big market for a personal jet? The answer depends on the answer to another question, "How many people have $1.9 million to spend on transportation?" That pricetag, by the way, is twice the estimated price when the company first gambled its future on the jet around 2006.
Robert Goyer, who writes for Flying Magazine, figures the target audience will be the person who flies Cirrus' planes now...
The price tag issue for the Cirrus jet is not as big as some are making it out to be. The jump to $2 million from its current $1.7 price tag, will doubtless spur sales leading up to the increase but I'd doubt it will slow them down much thereafter. Some will argue that you can get a really nice used Mustang for $2 million, and they're right. A used Mustang that flies up to 41,000 feet, has two engines, requires a sophisticated understanding of high-altitude operations and takes some real skill to fly around in on one engine. I love the Mustang. But for many would be Cirrus jet owners, it's more airplane than they want or need.
In my book, the news from Duluth is nothing but good news, and I personally can't wait for the SF50 to arrive. With shared aircraft ownership company PlaneSmart based at my home airport. I spoke with PlaneSmart president Mike Brosler on the subject a year ago. He told me that as soon as the new turbofan single was available, he'd start selling a lot of shares in it, some to existing SR22 owners and others to folks who are waiting specifically for the jet.
The typical Cirrus owner has plenty of money and is usually a businesses owner of some sort. At my home airport -- South St. Paul's Fleming Field -- a real estate developer flies from his home in Grand Rapids a few times of week, parks his plane in the hangar and uses a Mercedes he keeps there for tooling around the Twin Cities. Flying can be a rich man's game, indeed.
I don't know if he's interested in flying a jet for business, but in a Cirrus owners online forum this week several people who had put deposits on a jet, and had demanded a refund when the economy turned sour, are saying they're back in line for a jet when it's available -- maybe -- in 2015.
Maybe when I have $2million laying around...
Until then I guess it's still a 6 hour drive to the in laws a couple of times a year.