Cirrus SR22 demo flight: initial impressions

SR22 Instrument Panel

I spent a bit over an hour today flying a spanking-new Cirrus SR22-GTS, courtesy of Easy Air Share, which is setting up a fractional ownership program here in Ottawa. I flew in the left seat with Floyd, a production test pilot from Cirrus, in the right seat. Here, as a counterpoint to a previous Cirrus posting, are some of my initial impressions:

Best feature:
electric elevator and aileron trim — I used it religiously to relieve control pressures.
Second best feature:
pilot-side door.
Most overrated feature:
the glass panel (it’s cool, but it’s more information than I really want when I’m flying, especially VFR).
Hand flying:
slightly more slippery than a Warrior, but after a bit of practice, it was no problem holding heading and altitude — the stuff people say about needing the AP to fly is BS.
I missed the analog altimeter and gyro compass (there was a backup altimeter at the bottom), but I got used to the tape display fast enough.
Landing characteristics:
slightly higher approach speed, but otherwise almost identical to landing a Cherokee or 172.
I’d like to be able to choose my own RPM on the CS propeller; the engine flew nice and smooth lean of peak, though.
Castering nosewheel:
no big deal, no big problem.
no big deal, no big problem, except that it requires very small inputs compared to a Cherokee or 172.
Leg room in the back seat:
(tested on the ground) very spacious.
smooth and well integrated.
Four-point harness:
extremely comfortable.
Sound system:
nice, but not a big deal for me.
no opportunity to observe.

Would I mind owning a share of an SR22? Not at all. It feels like a great machine for long cross-country trips, and I know my family would love every second in it. But I couldn’t help thinking how much more fun that same flight would have been in my trusty old Warrior, slow speed, and all. I love working on computers; I don’t know if I love flying them.

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5 Responses to Cirrus SR22 demo flight: initial impressions

  1. John says:

    I have a different perspective on the autopilot. I teach pilots flying an SR22 to consider the autopilot to be required equipment for IFR flying. Pilots transitioning to these kind of aircraft often have a hurdle to get over – namely the feeling that using all the automation is “cheating.” It’s not cheating, it’s just a different kind of flying and just like hand flying, it requires practice to become proficient at managing all the equipment safely and effectively.

    I would recommend against hand flying a Cirrus for long periods of time. Can it be done? Sure. Is it a good idea in IMC? I personally don’t think so. Consider running into icing conditions and needing to turn on the alternate air or having to troubleshoot some circuit breakers, both located beneath the left instrument panel by the pilot’s knees. It seems doubtful that this can be safely accomplished without some help from the AP or someone in the right seat.

    I’m not left-handed, but if you happen to be and are flying from the left seat, the AP is a big help when you get an amended clearance and need to write something down.

  2. david says:

    Thanks for the comment, John. I have no objection at all to using the AP, but after everything I heard about how hard the SR22 was to hand-fly, I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t much different than my Warrior, even in light turbulence. I made continuous use of the electric trim, though, to relieve control pressures — with the sensitive stick, I didn’t want to be muscling that plane around.

  3. Aviatrix says:

    But icing conditions are when you want to hand fly, so you can detect any change in controllability. I disconnect the autopilot for icing or for a wake turbulence advisory.

  4. John says:

    Aviatrix, I think you misunderstand my point.

    The Cirrus procedure for an icing encounter specifies, among other things, that alternate air be turned on. The alternate air control is located, who knows why, beneath the instrument panel. Given the twitchy nature of the SR22, I would turn on the TKS, engage the autopilot, reach under the panel, turn on alternate air, reach over to the right side of the instrument panel and set the heater/defroster on high, then disengage the AP and resume hand flying until out of the ice.

    Remember that the SR22 is not certificated for flight into known icing conditions, so I would consider hand flying in these conditions to be an abnormal situation.

    Make sense?

  5. Raymond Moreno says:

    Hello, I too have had the oportunity to fly the Cirrus recently. It has been one the best planes that I’ve ever got to fly. I agree, the glass panel is pretty informative if your going to fly around just for VFR flying. It’s definately more suited for cross country flying. The electric trim is definately a plus, especially in the approach to landing phase because the plane tends to sink quickly with power at idle. This plane is more suited for the series pilot wanting to transition into regional line training aircraft. The four-point seat harness at times crepped up towards my shoulders at least in the airplane I was flying. Handling characteristics were pretty responsive with good roll and pitch rates. It did’t seem that I needed much rudder imput when climbing or making steep turns. Taxiing and takeoff took a little getting use to because of the full castering nose wheel. I found myself looking for the traditional instruments while flying because the glass screens seemed to me, not to be in real time. I’m use to the leads and lags of the analog instuments. As far as comfort, the airplane is great with lower noise level and excellant radio sound qualities. The instrumentation is awsome, I can see where a student would be intimadated. The added safety parachute system is a plus for the pilot and the passegers. I can continue on and on about the airplane but there’s to much to list. Overall, it was like going to Disneyland or the candy store for a pilot. I love the airplane, the future is bright for these new generation aircraft. Thanks..Ray Moreno

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