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Cirrus Works To Up Demand For Private Planes

Cirrus is tracking this year at approximately the same volume and same revenue as it did last year, but is $55 million better at the bottom line.

"If you compare us now to 2008, when the world started coming apart and we had twice the volume, we are $90 million dollars better at the bottom line," Wouters says. "The trajectory of the business is terrific at the bottom line, but the revenue line stinks. Even today, with a better bottom line than last year, we are still bouncing around break-even, which tells you how much money we've lost."

Wouters is confident that his focus on cost-cutting will not take away from the company's reputation for innovation.

The SR22-T is cited as evidence.

Wouters claims it is the quietest plane Cirrus has produced and one of its fastest, and that the new twin-turbocharged engine offers alternative fuel capabilities. Pricing for the four-seat aircraft starts at $475,000.

"If push comes to shove and they pull lead out of aviation fuels, it will burn completely unleaded fuel today," he says. "Unleaded fuel is coming whether we want it to happen now or not. For the past 20 years or so you could just shrug it off. There is no more shrugging it off. We are going to be the first to market to make sure our business and our customers are protected."

A partnership with Garmin (GRMN - Get Report) allows for the integration of cutting-edge technology.

A GPS system designed for aircraft, Garmin offers a wealth of weather data, route information, charts about airports and the different approaches into airports and terrain heights.

Perspective ESP, a safety and flight stability augmentation system by Garmin, will be available on new orders scheduled for delivery this fall. With the system, which operates while hand-flying with the autopilot disengaged, if the pilot becomes incapacitated, disoriented or distracted, the system corrects unsafe flight conditions such as slowing speed or dropping altitude. Similar systems have been available only in the world's most advanced (and expensive) business and military jets.

"The amount of information that you have in an easy to consume and manipulate fashion is tremendous," Wouters says. "I have to hand it to Garmin, I think they have done a beautiful job. We have a lot of customers who fly for the airlines, and what they have in their Cirrus far exceeds what they have in a commercial airplane. Aviation people are blown away by what you can do."

--Written by Joe Mont in Boston.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Joe Mont.

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