Cirrus President and CEO Pat Waddick recently flew a Vision Jet to Grand Forks, North Dakota to highlight the positive impact general aviation companies have on the economy as part of an industry rally on September 5. There, aviation company executives, industry advocates, congressional and state representatives and University of North Dakota officials gathered to tout the job and educational opportunities in the aviation industry in North Dakota.
The event and career fair was hosted by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), a Washington, D.C.-based industry group. The gathering included Cirrus and other major players in the general aviation industry.
Pete Bunce, president and CEO of GAMA, said the organization has been holding job rallies as a way to better promote the industry. He said auto industry executives had been criticized for flying in jets, also casting the general aviation industry in a negative light.
“We had not done a good job in the industry of telling our story,” Bunce said, adding that business aviation has aided companies doing work in the Bakken oil region. “We quickly came to the realization that we ought to start talking about this and talk about the jobs it creates and how it contributes to the economy.”
Cirrus’ Pat Waddick’s flight into Grand Forks Friday served as symbol of what he says is a bright future for the general aviation industry. The revolutionary personal jet has been in development for several years and the company plans on handing over the controls to the first of almost 550 customers who have already put in orders by the end next year.
For companies like Cirrus, being able to talk about growth is a welcome change from just a few years ago. Sales are improving now, and Waddick said the company expects to continue adding jobs in Grand Forks over the next year as it prepares for the Vision Jet’s release.
“We do see a lot of growth,” Waddick said. So how did it feel to be at the controls of the Vision Jet? Pat’s reaction: “Being at 18,000 to 20,000 feet going close to 300 knots is just cool,” he said.
Read the story from the Grand Forks Herald.