Duluth-based Cirrus Aircraft is selling 25 of its propeller planes to the Lufthansa Airlines flight training program, company officials announced Tuesday.
Lufthansa Aviation Training will use Cirrus' advanced SR20 aircraft as its primary training fleet in Goodyear, Ariz. Plane delivery begins in October and will finish in February. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
The five-seater SR20 aircraft — which features propellers, a Garmin flight deck, flight management and electronic stability systems, plus Cirrus' signature parachute — will be used to train pilots from Lufthansa, plus others such as Swiss Air, Austrian Airlines and the German Air Force. The planes each carry an estimated price tag of $400,000.
Cirrus officials noted that the partnership with Lufthansa Aviation Training marks another milestone in its small airplanes being used to train pilots around the globe.
Flight training center customers already include Emirates airline, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Royal Saudi Air Force and Cassidian Aviation Training Services.
Cirrus Aircraft "is proud to be [Lufthansa's] partner in producing world-class airline pilots for years to come," said Todd Simmons, president of customer experience for the company. "Today's forward-thinking airlines and pilot training programs are realizing the immediate benefits of teaching and learning in the most effective equipment available uniquely from Cirrus."
Cirrus' SR series is known for its advanced navigation and safety systems, which are "similar to the systems these new pilots will use in the airlines' larger aircraft," Simmons said. The small planes boast integrated engine indication and crew alerting/warning systems.
In addition to propeller planes, Cirrus Aircraft makes the Cirrus Vision Jet. The jet, which costs just under $2 million, recently won federal approval. The company now has orders for more than 600 of them.
The first delivery of the seven-seater, single-engine Vision Jet took place in December, at the same time the company celebrated the opening of its new $12.7 million finishing plant in Duluth.
The accomplishments are a sign of growth for Cirrus, which was bought by China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. in 2011 after a recession that nearly clobbered the company.
Today, Cirrus has more than 800 employees in Duluth and nearly 200 workers in its Grand Forks facility and scores of sales agents around the globe. Cirrus' new "Vision Center" in Knoxville, Tenn., is serving as a customer service operation and is expected to grow from 35 to nearly 100 workers this year.