AeristaPedia: Cirrus Aircraft SF-50 Vision Jet

Intro[Any Iconic jets? 500?]

The Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet is a single pilot, single fan, 5-7 passenger pressurized jet. It competes in the Very Light Jet category, designated for 4-8 seat turbofan aircraft. The Collier Award-winning aircraft cruises at 311 ktas, burning 65 gallons an hour at 31,000 feet, with a max range of 1,275nm which is similar to the performance of single-engine turboprops.

Introduced in 2017, the aircraft is designed to be an entry point into the jet world, and a step up from the Cirrus SR series. As such, it carries over many of the same features as the piston Cirrus, with a Garmin Perspective Plus Touch cockpit, side-yoke, and CAPS as standard features. The aircraft utilizes composite parts such as a carbon spar and fiberglass exterior to reduce weight and provide structural integrity. In terms of its position in the marketplace, the SF50 occupies a unique space - there are no piston aircraft with comparable speed and no Jet-A burning aircraft that can be acquired at the same price. Tongue in cheek, the SF50 may be described as an aircraft that is not best at any one thing, but does many many things very well. The exception to that statement is on the safety front, as it comes equipped with the most options of any high performance aircraft, including both the ballistic parachute and SafeReturn, which autonomously lands the aircraft at an airport without pilot input.

From a training and ownership perspective, Cirrus attempted to provide as much similarity to the SR series as possible. However, there are appreciable differences, of course. Unlike the piston, a type rating is required and the training is rigorous. Pilots coming from other turbine aircraft will typically find the transition straightforward, but there is a fairly robust process to get typed regardless of current capabilities. The type-rating transition training, mostly completed in the Level D simulators, typically requires 10 full days at the Cirrus campus in Knoxville and this is only after completion of extensive online coursework leading up to the sim training. The reason the training is so much more extensive than transitioning into a piston Cirrus is not because the equipment is necessarily more difficult to manage; rather, the expectations are different. The aircraft is designed to be as simple to fly as the SR piston, but the proficiency level expected of a pilot flying a turbofan aircraft is much higher and the training reflects this expectation.

Ownership of the SF50 has both similarities and differences to owning an SR. With most SF50s operating under part 91, standard costs and FAA requirements that come to bear under SR ownership are the same. Where ownership differs is in the maintenance of the aircraft. Not only does Cirrus offer warranty, as for the SR piston, and not only does it offer an engine reserve program, as is the case for most turbine aircraft, the SF50 has a full pre-paid maintenance plan that covers virtually all scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. This largely fixes the cost of ownership to a set number, so operators know precisely how much it will cost to own the aircraft each year. Aside from that, insurance considerations are a significant part of the cost of ownership and along with fuel, the most variable. The typical minimum requirement to be able to obtain insurance is for the pilot to have 750 hours of total time and to hold instrument and type ratings. At this experience level, the annual premium may cost $45,000, with the number coming down to $25,000 for a 1,000 hour pilot with 200 type hours, and lastly, $17,000 for a 1,500 hour pilot with 500 type hours.

Generations

Cirrus has launched three generations (G1, G2, and G2+) of the SF50 since inception, with the generational improvements focusing on improving the pilot’s experience. The G1 was brought to market in 2017 with the single turbofan and Garmin G3000 avionics being the primary selling points. This airframe was somewhat lean on features because Cirrus’ objective was to certify and bring to market a commercially viable product, understanding that features could be added later.

The primary goal of G2 was to raise the service ceiling to FL310 and increase cruising speed, but Cirrus also added improvements to reduce cabin noise and improve interior comforts.

The changes introduced with G2+ seem, to many, to be even more significant than those ushered in with the transition from G1 to G2. The upgrades focused on safety and power. The headline changes were an increase in takeoff power, allowing for substantially better performance at high altitudes and/or hotter temperatures and the installation of SafeReturn, a revolutionary system to ensure safe landing without pilot input or control. See the chart below for G2+ serial numbers.

Though the progression of enhancements was linear, some features of later generations are retrofittable on previous generations. For example, a G1 can add G2 wing features and upgraded interior carpeting and upgraded soundproofing.. That same G1 cannot be fitted with AutoRadar, SafeReturn, or Wifi. A G2 SF50 can be retrofitted with most of the features from a G2+, the exceptions being Cirrus IQ, which is a large financial endeavor for little gain, and AutoRadar, which is pending FAA approval.

Vision Jet Serial Number Breakdown

001 - 004 Pre-Production Not in service
005 - 0093, excl. 0089 G1
0089, 0094 - 159 G2 No SafeReturn from factory
0160 - 0220 G2 SafeReturn Std. From Factory, though it was not active. This group excludes a few exported aircraft where SafeReturn was not approved internationally
220 - 287, excl. 266 G2 SafeReturn Std. and Active from factory 
266, 288 - 462 G2+ No AutoRadar & IQ from factory 
463 - Present G2+ AutoRadar & IQ from factory 
0010, 0032, 0088, 0092, 0137, 0149, 0202 N/A Factory Disabled/Destroyed Aircraft

G1[Launch edition jets]

The SF50 G1 was the first edition of the Vision Jet, with initial delivery in 2017. Equipped with an FJ-33 turbofan and pressurized cabin, the G1 cruises at 305 KTAS, has a service ceiling of 28,000 feet, and has a range of 1,210 nautical miles. It carries 2,000lbs, or 295 gallons of fuel, and burns 80-85 gallons in the first hour of flight, and approximately 70 gallons an hour in cruise.

Though Cirrus offered equipment packages that, in theory could be ordered a la carte, virtually every G1 was ordered with the “Elite” configuration, which meant the plane was fully loaded with all available options at the time. The Elite package (the equivalent of the GTS on the SR) included the following packages: Enhanced Awareness, Pro Pilot, Premium Luxury, Productivity and Experience, and Connectivity.

Many G1s have been retrofitted with three items made available with the introduction of G2: the G2 upgraded wing, upgraded carpeting, and soundproofing. The G2 wing was improved through the reduction of an aileron fence and several vortex generators and the addition of the T-Tab on the aileron, making it smoother and faster. The newer carpeting was developed to ensure the product no longer pills. Finally, the soundproofing was added in the form of new door seals, and sound deadening materials on the interior.

G2[G2 package jet]

The biggest improvement from G1 to G2 is its higher cruising altitude. With RVSM compliance and the modified G2 wing, which provides better climb and cruise efficiency, the G2 is capable of cruising at 31,000 feet.

The other major improvement in the G2 is the autothrottle feature, powered through the Garmin system, which allows pilots to configure speeds and have the GFC Autopilot manage all primary flight controls. This fully digital system decreases workload by employing the autopilot to set speeds for the aircraft, and to fly approaches.

G2 also featured less significant improvements. Cirrus improved the electrical system with installation of smart batteries, saving the aircraft a few pounds in wiring and battery weight, and increasing the life of the battery. Auto-deployed passenger oxygen was also installed. This was an improvement over the system over the G1 system, whereby the oxygen was manually deployed, relying on the pilot and passengers to execute that task on their own. Finally, the G2 baggage area was extended, nearly doubling the baggage compartment space by opening up the baggage area through the tail section of the aircraft.

G2+[Arrivee Jet? XI Jet?]

In 2021, Cirrus released G2+. The most notable feature was the introduction of Safe Return. Because autothrottle was installed on G2, the G2+ could employ Garmin’s Collier Award-Winning technology to allow passengers to simply press a button to engage the system, whereby the aircraft will locate an airport and land itself. This technology uses existing systems, such as FADEC, the GPS, the Autopilot, the Radar Altimeter, and the brakes. Once the button is pressed, the airplane will choose an airport, navigate to the airport, talk on the correct frequencies, squawk the right code, shoot an RNAV approach, land, and brake on the runway..

Cirrus also added a 20% increase in thrust on takeoff, improving hot and high performance, as well as increasing the envelope of airports accessible by the aircraft. This is accomplished through an adjustment to the Engine Control Unit (software update) and an upgraded Fuel Control Unit (hardware) not through replacement with a larger powerplant, pushing the existing fan hotter for longer periods of time, as opposed to adding weight and reengineering the airframe. This had an additional benefit of faster climb. As the engine is producing more thrust, the aircraft can move through the hotter, denser air more quickly, decreasing time to climb, and reaching cruise speed sooner.

Additional features of the G2+ were WiFi compatibility, using a GoGo WiFi box and antenna, as well as Garmin AutoRadar, which uses a computer and automatic panning and tilting of the radar to better locate and profile storms and weather formations.

Table Overview of Aircraft*

Approx. Base MSRP $1.764m $2.38m $2.98m
Release Year 2016 2019 2021
Range 1,281nm 1,266nm 1,275nm
Payload(Max Fuel) 498 lbs. 395 lbs.  450 lbs.
Useful Load 2,499 lbs. 2,362 lbs. 2,450 lbs.
Service Ceiling 28,000 ft.  31,000 ft.  31,000 ft. 
CAPS Yes Yes Yes
SafeReturn No No Yes
IFE(In Flight Entertainment) Yes Yes Yes
Autothrottle No Yes Yes

*Specs are created at the base package for each, payload and useful load will adjust based on additional items and features

Equipment & Packages

There are five equipment packages that could be optioned on the Vision Jet: Enhanced Awareness, Pro Pilot, Premium Luxury, Productivity and Experience, and Connectivity. Choosing “all of the above” rendered an SF50 as an “Elite”, and the vast majority of SF50s were delivered with the Elite configuration. Though each of the five packages have been offered in all generations of the Vision Jet, the included features of each package has changed over time

Enhanced Awareness Garmin weather radar, Enhanced Vision(EVS) camera, and Garmin SurfaceWatch and Chartview Same as G1 Added Garmin AutoRadar
Pro Pilot TCAS-1 Traffic Targeting Traffic Avoidance System, TAWS-B Terrain & Obstacle, a third Attitude Heading Reference System/Air Data Computer, additional Digital Transponder, co-pilot quick donning mask and upgraded 40 cu ft. aluminum-lined cylinder for oxygen, integrated electronic manuals directly to the avionics Added audible alerts for traffic Added a third Attitude Heading Reference System(AHRS)
Premium Luxury  Premium Leather and Contrast Stitching, additional 6th and 7th “XC”, child’s seats, Enhanced Dimmable Accent Lighting, and multi-tone paint for the exterior Added new paint schemes for exterior and a business configuration for seating Added new paint schemes for exterior
Productivity and Experience 22” LED LCD Entertainment Display, power ports, Gold Reflective Windshield and Cabin Windows, and climate controls for the rear seats. Same as G1 Same as G1
Connectivity Perspective Global Connect, worldwide Iridium Datalink Weather, and Groundlink Same as G1 Added Gogo InFlight Wifi
Elite All of the above All of the above All of the above

History and Development of Aircraft[Red 1st Jet]

The history of the Vision Jet is as long as the history of Cirrus. Though the idea for the Vision Jet was introduced to the public in 2007 by Dale and Alan Klapmeier, the airplane had already been in sketches for many years. In the “mooseworks”, as Cirrus called it, which was a rented shed in a Duluth storage yard, a competitor to the Lear Fanjet was being created in the utmost secrecy for the better part of a decade.

The Klapmeiers’ vision was for an aircraft that was similar to the SR series aircraft, yet was powered by a turbine. The initial parameters for the aircraft were that it must fit in a 40x40 hangar (the same as an SR) and must outperform the SR by a considerable margin, while still being flown by the same profile of pilot. The secret project existed in the mooseworks until in 2008, when an early prototype of the Vision Jet flew. The aircraft met the required metrics, but it wouldn’t be until 2014 when the world would see a conforming prototype, meaning something similar to what is in production today.

The initial SF50 design called for a non-pressurized jet topping out at 25,000 feet. However, in the early 2000s, there were seven other competitors attempting to fill the same space in the marketplace. In order to differentiate itself, Cirrus decided to not only integrate the ballistic parachute system, but to pressurize the aircraft, raising the ceiling to 28,000 feet.

In May of 2016, the first flight of P1 took place. P1 was the first production Vision Jet, and this first flight marked the introduction of the SF50 to the public, carrying with it the performance metrics seen on today’s aircraft. In October of the same year, the Vision Jet received its type certificate, meaning commercial production could begin. The first delivery to a customer took place at the end of 2016.
Just two years after the launch of the Vision Jet, Cirrus won the Collier Award, which recognizes the most significant achievements in the aerospace industry. In fact, the Jet holds two Collier awards - one for the airframe itself and one for the SafeReturn Technology inside, provided by Garmin. It is interesting to note that none of the seven manufacturers who announced plans to develop a competitor to the SF50 ever brought a product to market.

Ownership Considerations

Cirrus’ JetStream program is the cornerstone of the ownership cost for a Vision Jet. It is a pay-by-block-hour program, designed to set the maintenance and support costs of the aircraft at a fixed rate in order to avoid the chunk fees for maintenance, hot sections, inspections, overhauls and other high dollar items. As a result, the JetStream program is unique. In other turbine aircraft, most other programs strictly cover maintenance and overhaul or the engine itself. JetStream coverage includes the entire aircraft and even annual costs such as recurrent training and avionics subscriptions.
This program is purchased directly from Cirrus and can be renewed indefinitely. JetStream is associated with the aircraft, not the owner, and can be transferred (with a fee) when ownership changes hands. As a result, there is significant monetary value associated with the aircraft and the remaining value of the JetStream on any particular SF50 is a large factor in the overall value of the aircraft in the pre-owned market.
The program is purchased with a calendar limit and hour limit, and once the first of those two thresholds is reached, the owner has the option to renew. While one or two units have been purchased without JetStream and a few have allowed the program to expire, the vast majority (99% range) of SF50s are enrolled in JetStream.
When JetStream was initially introduced, program limits were as high as three years or 1000 hours. Cirrus has subsequently lowered the limits and the options available today are:
1 year or 150 hours (initial)
1 year or 250 hours (initial)
2 year or 200 hour (initial)
2 year or 300 hour (initial)
Renewal market: 1 or 2 years 100/200/300 hours
If JetStream has not been renewed prior to the expiration limits, it can be a challenge to reinstate the program on the aircraft. If a jet was not on JetStream originally, the new owner will have to pay for every hobbs hour to that point, then can initiate the process of having the aircraft in the program.

Current JetStream Concierge Program Includes:
Complete Turbine Engine Coverage – Powered by Williams International TAP Blue1
CAPS® Overhaul (10-Year Parachute Repack & Component Replacement)
Annual Recurrent Training for One Pilot
Scheduled Airframe/Avionics Maintenance – Including Parts & Labor
Unscheduled Airframe/Avionics Maintenance – Including Parts & Labor
Normal Wear Item Replacement
Expedited Parts Delivery for Grounded Aircraft (AOG)
Mandatory Service Bulletins and AFM Updates
Recommended Service Bulletins
Access to Cirrus Assist™ (AOG Service, Support, Inspection & Solution Team)
Expedited Parts Delivery for Grounded Aircraft (AOG)
Electric Charts and Database Updates
Cirrus IQ
Sirius/XM Weather & Audio2
Iridium Data and Weather Subscription for Cirrus Global Connect
All Day – Every Day Customer Phone Support

Preowned Market Analysis:

The market for pre-owned SF50s is now robust and efficient, so buyers of pre-owned SF50s can easily find the right aircraft for their needs and budget. This was not the case after the initial certification and deliveries. Until enough supply made its way onto the market, buyers faced limited choices and prices that included a premium over the cost to buy a new one from Cirrus. This was a result of the fact that a buyer could not purchase a new SF50 from Cirrus unless he/she had already procured a delivery position, either a decade earlier or for some amount in the marketplace once positions began trading on the secondary market.

The marketplace for pre-owned SF50s initially had a difficult time settling on the fair value of a G1 because every owner essentially paid a different all-in price for the plane. Those who put down a $100k deposit with Cirrus in 2007 were able to purchase the plane for the lowest build price and with a large credit for purchase of options - Cirrus gave early position holders 12% annual credit on the deposit, so by 2017, some buyers had more than $120k in credit to apply to their purchase. In these cases, basis could be as low as $1.6M. On the other side of the equation, some early deliveries went to buyers who entered the SF50 marketplace in 2017, once certification was assured, and paid a large premium solely for the delivery position itself. We believe the highest price paid for a delivery position was one we sold for $700,000. This was for delivery of one of the very first SF50s to roll off the line and would have rendered the basis on that SF50 roughly $2.5M. This $900k difference in price paid for the same jet led to some interesting dynamics when those units were competing with each other on the pre-owned market.

Eventually, as the number of units in the overall fleet increased, so too did the number of SF50s for sale in the pre-owned market. This led to a rationalization of pricing, with buyers demanding a small discount once an aircraft was taken “off the lot”.

The pricing dynamics shifted significantly during the early days of Covid, of course. As with all luxury goods, SF50s became extremely scarce [again] and price increases followed suit. At the peak, buyers paid nearly $1m more for a pre-owned G2+ than a new one due to the 1-2 year wait for delivery of a new one. 2023 then brought the “Great Rationalization” - demand tapered a bit, supply of pre-owned units increased, new SF50s availability improved and prices reacted accordingly. That rationalization remains and the SF50 market is now well balanced, with pre-owned units selling below the price of new ones.

Understanding values in the pre-owned SF50 market is relatively simple because there are very few differences between units for sale. The primary factor differentiating value is the generation. G1s tend to sell for 500k less than G2s. There is a similar gap between the G2 and G2+, but this gap can be reduced to zero if the G2+ upgrades are installed on a G2. Unlike a G1, which has no upgrade path to become a full G2, a G2 can become technically equivalent to a G2+ with the addition of hardware and software to allow AutoRadar, and Cirrus IQ.

Outside of generation, the main factor affecting value is JetStream. Because JetStream is transferable (with a fee), the value difference between any two SF50s of the same generation is typically the dollar amount remaining on the JetStream program.

For the same reason that JetStream is the primary differentiator of value between like units, the actual hours are less of a factor in the SF world than the piston world. In valuing piston aircraft (or turbines not covered by engine programs), buyers will pay more for an aircraft with lower time because each remaining engine/prop hour has a specific overhaul cost assigned to it. With virtually all SFs on full JetStream, this is no longer a consideration because the overhaul reserve is being fully funded by the JetStream program. The case is the same for all time-limits parts, such as the parachute. The only monetary adjustment applied to higher hours is based on a perception of wear - the older or the higher the hours, the more worn the cosmetic components may be.

Finally, there is some value assigned to subjective items, such as aesthetics. Cirrus offered custom paint and interior through their Xi program. Assigning value to these individualized cosmetics is nearly impossible due to the varied tastes of both the initial owner (who designed the paint/interior scheme) and the tastes of subsequent owners in the pre-owned market.

Full Equipment List(As of 3/27/24):

Williams FJ33-5A (1846 lbs. thrust)
Dual Channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC)
Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS)
300 lb. Baggage Capacity
Flight Into Known Icing System
Improved Electrical System with Intelligent Batteries
Trailing-Link Landing Gear
Modular Seating for Five
Auto-deploy Passenger Oxygen
Leather Interior
Air Conditioning with Automatic Control
USB Power Ports
Pilot Quick-don Oxygen Mask
<8000 ft. Pressurized Cabin
Stall Recognition Stick Shaker & Pusher
Cargo X-tend
ADS-B In Weather & Traffic
Decreased Ground Roll
Enhanced Overall Takeoff Capabilities
Improved Initial Climb Gradient
Perspective Touch+TM by Garmin®
14” High Resolution Displays
Safe ReturnTM Emergency Autoland System
3 Landscape Touchscreen Controllers
PFD/MFD Multi-Function Windows
All-Digital Audio Panel
TAWS-B Terrain & Obstacle Awareness
Dual WAAS GPS/Comm/Nav Radios
Complete Aircraft Systems Synoptics
CMC - Enhanced Data Logging
Dual AHRS, ADC, & Pitot Static
NextGen Transponder (ADS-B Out)
Synthetic Vision Technology
FliteCharts & SafeTaxi1
XM Weather® & Audio1
Electronic Stability & Protection (ESP)
3-Axis All-Digital Autopilot
Blue Level Button
Digital Real-Time Weather Radar
Garmin AutoRadar
Enhanced Vision System
Flight Stream by Garmin
Enhanced Vision System
Runway Alerts
SurfaceWatch
ChartView
Traffic Avoidance System
TCAS-1 Traffic Targeting
TAWS-B Terrain & Obstacle Awareness
Third Attitude Heading Reference System/Air Data Computer
Additional Digital Diversity Transponder
Co-pilot quick donning mask
Premium Leathers and Carpet
Enhanced Dimmable Accent Lighting
Textured Fabrics
Multi-tone Paint
Gold Reflective Windshield & Cabin Windows
Rear Climate Controls
22” LED LCD Entertainment Display
115 VAC inverter
Perspective Global Connect
Worldwide Iridium Datalink Weather
Ground Link
Gogo Inflight Wifi

Additional Options:

COMPLETE SEATS $19,900(Full 7 seat package)
RELIEF STATION $19,900(Onboard toilet)
DME $14,900(DME Equipment)
Xi Package - Price Varies(Interior and Exterior customization)

G1 Vision Jets Median Closing Price over time

sf50-g1-median-closing-price

G2/2+ Vision Jets Median Closing Price over time

sf50-g2-median-closing-price