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Sales at Cirrus Aircraft take off after being grounded in the recession

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Duluth-based Cirrus Aircraft is outpacing the market with its sales and shipments.

The Associated Press reports the billings are especially impressive because they represent a notable turnaround. Cirrus sales hit an 11-year low in 2012. Now airplane shipments show a jump of nearly 25 percent in the first six months of 2013 over the same period in 2012. last year. Billings are up 60 percent.

Company officials expect healthy numbers to continue the rest of the year, especially in the fourth quarter, which usually is its strongest.

Cirrus now holds a 32 percent market share, making it the world leader in its category of small personal aircraft. The sector of single-engine pistons that includes Cirrus was up 17 percent, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

Factors fueling Cirrus’s growth include demand for its revamped premium models. The Generation 5 SR-22 and SR-22T sell for between $500,000 and $600,000, but extras can push the price of the plane up by as much as $300,000.

Fleet sales are also giving lift to the bottom line, claiming 20 percent of this year's shipments. The latest fleet order for the Royal Saudi Air Force, follows sales to the U.S. Air Force Academy and the French Air Force. First deliveries for Cirrus’ newest single engine personal jet, the SF-50 Vision Jet won't happen until 2015, but orders have grown to 545 in recent months. Each jet will sell for $1.96 million.

In the last year, the Cirrus staff in Duluth and Grand Forks has grown to more than 600, with more positions to be added.

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