According to the Grand Forks Herald newspaper, Cirrus Aircraft’s (Duluth, Minn.) Grand Forks, North Dakota plant took delivery on June 27 of a 40-ft long, 8.5-ft diameter autoclave that it says will help in the production of the company’s propeller aircraft and its new jet aircraft. The 40-ton autoclave is so large Cirrus is building an addition around it instead of trying to fit it in the existing plant in the city’s Industrial Park. Modifications began in May, said the Herald's June 27 report, by Tu-Uyen Tran and John Myers.
According to the published story, Brandon Pavlish, director of operations in Grand Forks, says the pressurized oven will help produce the carbon fiber structural components that make up most of the Vision SF50 jet’s fuselage. The SR-series propeller aircraft also uses some carbon fiber but is mostly made of fiberglass, which can be cured in an unpressurized oven. The autoclave’s high pressure compresses the thick structural components better, producing strong and durable parts, according to Pavlish.
Cirrus is based in Duluth and its Grand Forks plant employs 100. The Duluth plant employs about 500, according to Todd Simmons, executive vice president of sales, marketing and support. The expansion that includes the autoclave is expected to add about 10 jobs in Grand Forks “over time,” Simmons said.
Until now, Cirrus has outsourced the carbon fiber parts to ACT Aerospace (Gunnison, Utah). But with the Vision SF50’s carbon fiber requirements and increased sales volume for the SF-series, it makes more sense for Cirrus to do work itself, Pavlish said. The company expects to save several million over the next decade, he said. Cirrus has said the in-house effort will save the company about $3,000 per plane, according to the Herald's published report.
Simmons said the company’s first quarter sales of SR-series aircraft grew and it’s hiring more workers in Duluth. “The year is continuing to show good strength on a year-to-year basis. The news is good.” The first deliveries of the new jet are expected in 2015.
Cirrus said the addition around the autoclave is expected to be done at the end of July and operations will start by mid-August. Here is the link to the original story: http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/267118/publisher_ID/40/
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The teams are still working on the design but the aircraft is expected to have a wingspan of about 3 feet and will be made of double ply, carbon fiber.