Brent Wouters Tells ANN "Nothing Has Changed"
Cirrus President Brent Wouters says Cirrus is proceeding with
the Cirrus Jet project, calling it a strategic initiative for the
company that is attracting investor interest and is moving forward
into detailed design.
"The entire circumstance with Alan and his proposal to take over
the jet has been a substantial management distraction," Wouters
told ANN. "The irony is it's been a lot of public discussion" which
has raised the profile of the project.
"We remain committed to it. Nothing about this has changed
that," he said.
According to Wouters,
Cirrus founder Alan Klapmeier approached
Cirrus about buying the jet project, Cirrus did not
approach him. "He asked for an opportunity to make a proposal, and
played it out very publicly," Wouters said. "We were skeptical" of
Klapmeier's ability to secure funding to buy the program, Wouters
said. And Klapmeier "backing out" (Wouters words) is "fine with
I was on record as saying it was a Cirrus
program, and that Cirrus had a strong commitment," he
said. "Despite all the public discourse about this supposed
proposal, we haven't wavered one ounce."
Wouters said he felt Cirrus had "negotiated in good faith", with
Klapmeier, and had made a valid counter offer. "The gap in
valuation has nothing to do with his choice," Wouters said. "We
interpret this as an inability to raise sufficient funding."
Wouters told ANN the very public nature of this discussion has
raised the profile of the Cirrus Jet. "We don't have all the
answers as to how we'll completely fund it. We're selling
airplanes, and that will help us continue work on the project," he
said. Deposits placed for the airplane are also playing a
role. But he went on to say, basically, that there is no such
thing as bad publicity. "We have received multiple inquiries as a
result of this and other publicity from people who have the money
and want to invest in Cirrus," he said. "...serious multiple
inbound investing inquiries. There is no doubt they have
available funds. They've expressed a strong desire.
Whether they'll invest is not certain, but they're asking."
Wouters said the jet program is on
track, with the release of the final shapes of the wing and
fuselage and about 200 hours on the prototype airframe. The program
is now entering into what Wouters called the 'detailed design
phase'. "A lot of engineers need to have their heads down at
computers to design every element of every system, structure, and
interior in order to certify," he said. '"There won't be many
milestones that people will visibly see. That takes an enormous
amount of time." Wouters said he expects some 18-21 months of
detailed design work into things like icing systems, parachute
systems, interior and cockpit design. All to make the airplane easy
The bottom line, from Wouters' perspective, is that the jet will
be built, and it will be a Cirrus project. "We're executing the jet
plan. We're making great progress. We're selling airplanes.
We have a business that is performing very well, and that business
is funding that R&D Program," he said. "We're proceeding
forward as if it hadn't happened."