Saturday, 20 March 2010

Cirrus bullish for 2010, and files suit against L3

I got a press release from Cirrus Aircraft last week. It didn't relate to new models, options or updates on the Vision jet, but about the company's view of 2010. I've copied the press release here so that you can read it for yourself. I've highlighted the bits that I don't fully understand.

Don't get me wrong, we need all the good news that we can get in aviation and the Cirrus SR22 is one of the best aeroplanes out there. If I was in the market (and if I had the money) for a new aeroplane I'd be heading for the Duluth factory to pick up a new FIKI SR22, but this release raises too many questions for my liking - for example, what does 'on pace' mean? What exactly does 'on a par' mean - and are those 25+ new production reservations for the jet accompanied by $100,000 non-refundable cheques (which would be hugely impressive)?

I've seen a lot of press releases over the last 16 years, and this one just didn't feel right…and then I saw this: Cirrus is fighting for its reputation. It's a story about a court case that Cirrus Aircraft is bringing against L3, and relates to the allegation that L3 'falsely told other suppliers that Cirrus is heading towards bankruptcy. The suit says L-3 also encouraged them to end their supply relationships with the aircraft company'

That all sounds very messy, but it does go some way to explaining the Cirrus press release.

Duluth, MN - March 17, 2010: In comments to employees, customers and suppliers, President and CEO Brent Wouters today said the company was seeing signs of a strengthening market for aircraft sales. He noted that a number of key business measurements suggested stronger performance in 2010 than previously anticipated.

"We are seeing solid signs that suggest this year could be better - potentially much better - than many are thinking," Wouters said. "Our first-quarter sales are on pace with the results for Q1 2008, a year where we delivered 550 new airplanes. When you couple that level of sales performance with a greatly improved business that - because of our successful restructuring - has cut our breakeven point to less than half its 2008 level, 2010 is on track to be much better than expected. We're pleased with the momentum we're seeing on the sales side, particularly in institutional sales where our focus has already begun to show results such as the 16-airplane order for flight training at Purdue University. We see many more new fleet opportunities on the horizon."

"The credit for this improved outlook goes to our employees, our suppliers and all our partners who are helping us find success by making deliberate and significant progress in every area of the enterprise. While much work remains to be done, by pulling together, the Cirrus community is overcoming the economic headwinds and helping us quickly and quietly grow a very strong company."

Additional highlights:

In Q1 2010, aircraft deliveries are trending well above the same period for 2009 and on par with 2008. Nearly 30 new customer aircraft are scheduled to be delivered in March 2010 alone.

March 2010 deliveries included the first two aircraft of 16 total for flight training at Purdue University's Department of Aviation Technology, with remaining deliveries to take place in Q2 and Q3 2010.

Cirrus has more orders confirmed for both April and May of this year than the company had for the same period in either of the past two years.

Cirrus Certified, the pre-owned aircraft division at Cirrus, is also seeing sales return to 2008 levels. Used Cirrus aircraft prices are showing the strongest signs of stabilization in 24 months.

Increased global expansion in 2009 is paying significant dividends for Cirrus in 2010 as economies around the world recover at different rates. Year-to-date, total new aircraft deliveries are evenly split between the U.S. and export markets.

In January and February, the company received more than 25 new production reservations for its Cirrus Vision personal jet.

Business restructuring milestones include reducing inventory by more than 75%, reducing long-term liabilities by more than 20% and reducing annual fixed costs by over 50%.

The company continues to innovate in its marketing efforts with a new global partnership with Red Bull Air Race, one of the most dynamic and well-known aviation-related brands in the world.

Flight Into Known Icing (FIKI) capability and further enhancements to Cirrus Perspective By Garmin™ avionics in 2009 helped the SR22 grow its market share to more than 60%.

Again in 2009 - the 7th year in a row - the Cirrus SR22 is the world's best-selling 4-place airplane.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

What goes up...keeps going up

I hear rumours that fuel prices are about to take a significant leap upwards. This, when the average price is around £1.65 a litre, is cause for concern, at least if you operate a thirsty aeroplane. Prudent fuel planning for me means 50l/hr or £83 per hour if you prefer. That's OK if I'm using the aeroplane as a business tool, and it's acceptable, if painful, if it's to go somewhere nice, but I can't justify it if I'm just flying for the sake of it.

There are of course things that can be done, even with the C182 - I can fly it in what I like to think of as Mousquetaire mode - this involves throttling way back, winding down the rpm and leaning aggressively - the power is so low that there's no chance of damage from running over-lean; when set up like this the aeroplane performs, and more importantly consumes, like a Mousquetaire in normal cruise.

Other options are more radical and involve buying and selling aeroplanes, or perhaps even fitting a diesel engine - there's an STC to retrofit the SMA diesel to the C182, but a few years ago (back in January 2006 to be precise) the price of the conversion through CSE, the SMA dealer at the time, was €90,000, and you can buy a lot of avgas, even at today's prices, for that.
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Monday, 15 March 2010

Waiting for Kelly

Following my alternator woes I tracked down some names and numbers at Kelly Aerospace and left a message for their tech. support manager to call me back. I could have gone through Adams Aviation, but as this is now two out of two on the faulty alternator front, I thought I'd go to the source for a comment. I admit, I sort of want more than just another alternator. I'm not looking for money, but I am looking for an explanation...