Cirrus Flying High Again

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Cirrus Design Corp., maker of Cirrus SR20, SR22, the 22 turbo version, SRS, and the category killing Vision SJ50, began production Monday after a month-long winter timeout. 500 furloughed employees will gradually be recalled, meaning suppliers can get back in the game as well (they used the downturn to diversify, always a good thing). Cirrus is capable of producing 16 aircraft per week, but in order to be in line with market conditions, the the firm has its sights set at eight. It’s well positioned competitively, with a focused commitment to the Vision Jet program, ongoing innovation in their piston products, and their flexible lean-manufacturing capabilities. It also has a strong balance sheet and sound financial performance, receiving strong support from its primary backer, Bahrain-based Arcapita Bank. Cirrus plans to recall each of 165 workers to its Grand Forks facility, and about 265 of 335 to its Duluth facility by the end of the week. The company provided insurance benefits for its workers throughout its month-long shutdown and “offered supplemental pay to complement unemployment,” according to the Duluth News Tribune. Moving forward, the company plans to remain nimble in adjusting its workforce capacity, making changes as demand requires. Cirrus suppliers will lag behind, slightly. One Cirrus component manufacturer, Northstar Aerospace, will bring its workforce back to 40 percent over the first months of the year. Another, SCS Aircraft Interiors, recently invested more than $2.5 million to install a facility in Duluth and relies on Cirrus for 75 percent of its business. Cirrus’ return to production is essential to SCS’ viability.

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