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Cirrus names Zean Nielsen as new chief executive

written by WOFA | June 6, 2019

A file image of Cirrus Aircraft SR22T. (Cirrus Aircraft)
A file image of Cirrus Aircraft SR22T. (Cirrus Aircraft)

Cirrus Aircraft has revealed Zean Nielsen as its new chief executive. He takes over from the company’s co-founder Dale Klapmeier.

Nielsen said Cirrus would continue to bring “game-changing” products and services to market.

“Our mission is to deliver an aviation experience that is the pinnacle of innovation, quality and safety to our customers – and that is exactly what we will continue to do for many years to come,” Nielsen said in a statement on Tuesday (US time).

Prior to his appointment, Nielsen had been executive vice president of sales at James Hardie Building Products since August 2017, having previously held senior executive roles Tesla and Bang & Olufsen.

Klapmeier, who flagged his departure and a search for a new chief executive in December 2018, had held key positions in Cirrus since co-founding with brother Alan in the basement of their parent’s Wisconsin barn in 1984.

He took on the chief executive role in 2011, the same year China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA) acquired a controlling interest in Cirrus.

“We are fortunate to have someone of Zean’s calibre and experience to lead us into the next era of growth,” Klapmeier said.


“I am looking forward to moving into a senior advisory role and continuing to work with our exceptional team on reinventing the future of personal transportation.”

Cirrus Aircraft chief executive Zean Nielsen. (Cirrus Aircraft)
Cirrus Aircraft chief executive Zean Nielsen. (Cirrus Aircraft)

Cirrus, headquartered in Duluth, Minnesota but with facilities in North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas, makes the best-selling SR series of single-engined piston aircraft, with over 7,000 delivered to date.

The company is well-known for the development of the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), which uses a solid-fuel rocket to deploy a 65-feet diameter parachute, which allows a controlled descent for a disabled aircraft. Specially designed landing gear, seats, and roll cage absorb the energy of the final landing. CAPS was certified by the FAA in 1998.

More recently, Cirrus has pioneered the “personal jet” category with the development of the Vision Jet, a seven-seat (including two-seat cockpit) aircraft powered by a Williams FJ33-5A turbofan sitting on top of the fuselage ahead of a V-tail. The first delivery of the Vision Jet was made in December 2016.

VIDEO: A January 2019 video about the Vision Jet Generation 2 from the Cirrus YouTube channel.


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