Monday, 7 June 2010

Jet dreams?

Christian Dries took advantage of Aero (Friedrichshafen) earlier in the year to update people on the D-Jet's progress, more recently Cirrus Aircraft gave a web-based progress report on their SF50 Vision. I'm sure that stuff is still going on with the Piper Jet, but their website hasn't seen an update in over a year (deliveries are projected to start in early 2013).

So what do we know and what can we guess? Both Diamond and Cirrus have spoken about raising more money in order to get the job done. Dries hasn't publicly mentioned a figure but has spoken of a strategic partner while Cirrus CEO Brent Wouters said that $64m had been spent to get 'about half way there. Piper, may be owned by Imprimis, but having a well-funded owner doesn't necessarily mean that the development dollars are flying through the door at a vast rate of knots.

There's been no announcement about Diamond's jet partner, so either that deal has fallen through, or negotiations are proving tortuous. Meanwhile Brent Wouters and his team are out looking for money to finish SF50 development (I wonder if they enjoy Chinese food?) I bet quite a few VCs roll their eyes when they hear of another aeroplane company looking for money.

Diamond has spent significantly more than Cirrus and say that there's still a significant chunk of money required to reach the finish line. As a result of their bigger spend and older project Diamond are further ahead in the development cycle, so Brent's $64m to get half way is either impressive or an underestimate of how far they've actually got with their project. I'd guess that between the three manufacturers there's probably another $250m to be spent, and the engineering challenges will almost certainly be easier to overcome than the challenge of raising the money in the first place.

Will we ever see a GA apron with a customer SF50, Diamond Jet and PiperJet parked side by side? Not in the near future...

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