Special Report: Flying High Part 3

An Inside Look at Cirrus Aircraft

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The aviation industry has really taken off in recent years around the Northland. 

Several area companies have even become world leaders in this industry.

In part three of our special series, “Flying High,” FOX 21’s Natalie Froistad takes a look inside one of these world renowned companies calling the area home.

“The love of flight is as basic as watching a kid with a kite, or a bird in the sky. It literally is that magical,” explained Bill King, Vice President of Administration and Development for Cirrus Aircraft. 

That magic is all around at the Cirrus Aircraft Headquarters in Duluth.

“We are in any estimation the envy of the aircraft industry,” said King. 

Cirrus moved to the city in 1994, but didn’t have a certified aircraft until the late 1990s when the SR20 was completed. 

Deliveries began in 1999.

“We’re right on the cusp, we’re almost to deliver our 6,000th aircraft,” said King. 

“The aviation sector is a great, great building block in our regional economics,” said Tom Werner, Executive Director of the Duluth Airport Authority.

All of those nearly 6,000 aircraft have been handcrafted by around 600 employees in Duluth and nearly 200 others in Grand Forks.

However, the planes aren’t staying here. 35 to 40 percent of Cirrus’ aircraft are delivered outside of the United States. 

“We’ve got aircraft in over 80 different countries right now. As we stand here, we’re certified in something like 56 of the countries internationally and that continues to grow as people start to look at buying the aircraft,” said King. 

“Having a diversified aviation sector, or aviation cluster is absolutely key to its long term sustainability,” said Werner. 

Throughout the 21 years Cirrus has been here, they’ve changed the game in technology.

“If you were a pilot and you were trying to fly from Point A to Point B you’d have charts opened up, maps opened up on your lap, and you’d be charting, trying to figure out where you’re going,” said King. 

But flying isn’t like that anymore, all of that information is in a computer.

With all this technology, King calls the plane a “time machine,” but in the sense of helping you save time. 

“If I’m going from here to down someplace in Iowa, someplace in South Dakota, North Dakota and back to Duluth, I can make that conceivably in a day,” said King

Though a Cirrus aircraft could be a game changer for your business, it’s also about making time for your personal life.

“Life is not getting less busy, life is getting more busy, life is getting more complex, but we all want to have enough time to enjoy our family, enjoy our friends and our other relationships,” said King.

Proving this industry is pushing the limits on modern day-to-day life and soaring to new limits in the Northland.

“It does provide an opportunity for people that they can’t get any other way,” said King. 

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