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Forum News Service, Published June 27 2013

Cirrus expands Grand Forks facility

GRAND FORKS - Cirrus Aircraft on Thursday announced the expansion of its Grand Forks facility to accommodate a new autoclave oven in preparation for production of the Vision SF50 jet and the company’s SR propeller-driven planes.

Modifications to the Grand Forks facility began in May, although the autoclave wasn’t delivered until Thursday. Construction of the building around the giant piece of equipment will be finished by the end of July with the facility operational by mid-August, the company said in a statement.

Cirrus received a $950,000 loan from the Economic Development, Growth Fund Committee for the project. Cirrus operates a shop in Grand Forks that produces composite parts for its airplanes, employing about 100 people. The expansion is expected to add about 10 jobs in Grand Forks “over time,” said Todd Simons, executive vice president of sales, marketing and support.

An autoclave oven is used in the manufacturing process of composite parts — in this case large parts such as the carbon fiber main spar of the SR series aircraft and the Vision SF50 jet. The spar is the main structural component of the wing. Production of the carbon spar using an autoclave had been outsourced to an out-of-state contractor. Cirrus has said the in-house effort will save the company about $3,000 per plane.