Cirrus Aircraft's (Duluth, MN, US) first production Vision Jet completed its inaugural flight in Duluth, MN on May 5. This long-anticipated moment signals readiness of the Vision Jet for FAA certification and subsequent customer deliveries. Coined P1, this first production jet has allowed Cirrus to prove out each and every design and build process along the way, including a primarily carbon fiber composite airframe made using out-of-autoclave (OOA) processing. (Read CW’s February 2016 article, “VBO prepregs: The Vision SF50”).
Test pilot Terry LeSage reported, “The aircraft handled just great. It was unnoticeably different from C2 (the third conforming test-article jet), with handling qualities matching those of its predecessors and all systems working as intended.”
Cirrus first welcomed the cabin of P1 to Duluth last April, fresh off the truck from its Grand Forks, North Dakota facility, and have since seen it trimmed, drilled, assembled, bonded, receive hardware and systems installation, followed by transition through wing and stabilizer hang, engine installation, flight controls and accessories mounted, and finally the first coat of primer applied.
The pace of completing this first production aircraft was in tandem with the certification test process, led by a long and rigorous testing process of structural components. Next, the plane moved into testing of the lamination and bonding processes, then systems testing.
The first flight of P1 signifies a shift of focus from engineering and production over to flight testing. Cirrus will be able to fly the aircraft in an experimental state until FAA certification is achieved. The aircraft is currently fulfilling approximately 10 days of flying before heading into the paint booth, and then back into flight testing and instructor pilot training.