Cirrus 22 - My Experiences


#1

Got to fly the Cirrus 22 beast Friday night.

Cirrus had reps at KMBO offering demo flights. I had taken up a person in my plane and met my wife back at the airport. As we were walking through their exhibit trailer, letting the sales rep know we were there “dreaming”, another rep came up and asked if we had an hours worth of time, we could take a demo flight from KMBO to KMLU. Turning that option down was not an option :smiley:

Saddled up in the left seat, the rep gave me a quick overview of the MFD and PFD. Strap in like a fighter pilot with a four point shoulder harness…

Plane also had two Garmin 430’s for the radio stack. Rep did all the startup procedures to expidite the time, and after doing all he did via the checklist, he turned the controls over to me. Since I have a 430 in my Sundowner, using the radios was old hat.

Taxing was a little squirrely for me, as it took more braking action to turn rather then plain ole rudder due to the castering nosewheel. Thing turns on a 1/2 dime when needing to do a 360.

After trundling down the taxiway, turn on 35 at KMBO, right arm on the console armrest, push the throttle forward and off the runway lickety split with three people in the plane. EVERYTHING is at fingertip reach / control.

Stayed below KJAN airpspace and once we cleared it, climbed to 2500. At 70 percent power, maintained 185 knots indicated after trimming the plane. 18 gph rate per glass cockpit display.

Trim on the yoke is extremely sensitive. Having the yoke in the left hand was no different then a standard yoke. Flying a plane is flying a plane, you still pull the stick back with the left hand on take off, so other then location, was nothing to adjust to. Took me a whole 3 or 4 minutes to adjust.

EVERYTHING on this plane was ergonomically designed.

Trim on the other hand, was a huge adjustment. You have to “flick” the trim “joystick” as holding it just doesn’t cut it. VERY, VERY sensitive.

Also the trim adjust ailerons, so it takes tons of practice to get the feel for not inadvertantly trimming the ailerons vs the elevator.

Once I got a feel for the trim, I held altitude within 20 feet and heading within 2 degrees. Air was pristine which always helps.

Glass cockpit, had every bells and whistle. Planes with Mode C in a 11 mile radius of me showed up nicely in the display.

IFR approaches become as simple as keep the plane on the line, as we did a DME arc into KMLU. Rep wanted to know if I wanted to put autopilot on and play with the MFD, which I declined. I can do that on the computer, I just wanted to hand fly the plane.

Landing in KMLU was ugly, but manageable. Giving me the “benefit of the doubt” it was a night landing on a 150 foot wide runway. I am used to 75 foot runway…

Plane on landing handles like my Sundowner, you have to fly it to the ground and hold your final approach speed to get a good landing. 80 knot final was no big deal. Only two flap settings, which was on the right side, at fingertip control.

Wings have deicing stuff for the “emergency” not certified for ice, but has 3 1/2 gallons to spew over the leading edges and also will deice the windshield.

Music piped in via XM radio, no different then a car. My wife in the back seat, loved the comfort, getting in and out, was very, very easy for the back passenger, in fact easier then for the front row seats.

Picked up the Cirrus service Rep in MLU. Take off was effortless with four passengers, and I maintained 1000 fpm climb effortlessly.

With a quartering tailwind and running 90 percent, we made it back to KMBO in 22 short minutes at a ground speed of 235 knots. Prepping for the approach and landing, since I fly by “time” rather then distance", I.E five minutes prior to arrival, I start briefing my landing and three minutes prior to arrival, start configuring the plane for landing, it was no big deal.

The amazing thing to me was that since I was covering about 4 miles per minute ground speed, I was 12 miles out. Anybody that flys by distance will be behind this airplane big time.

Landing in KMBO was as good as it gets having experienced MLU. Again, just carrying a touch of power on touch down will grease the landing. Rollout, since flaps were down, was squirrely, but more operator (me) getting used to it, then plane I’d suspect, though wasn’t sure if flaps were retracted immediately after touchdown or not. My sundowner, first thing after wheels down is to retract flaps to get weight on the wheels BEFORE braking.

Great flying machine. At 1/2 million dollars for the machine I flew, would I buy one? Nope, can’t afford it.

If someone gave me the keys to one, would I take it, nope can’t afford it. Insurance for me with 700 hours and IA rated would be 5K a year. Didn’t even talk about maintenance cost. Average fuel burn is about 18 gph at 75 percent.

Now, if somebody had money to burn and would give me one and I had the money to maintain it, absolutely would take it in a heart beat!

Soooo, the bottom line after what I experienced on Friday, is that it’s not a crappy plane.

It is NOT for inexperience pilots,
It is NOT for student pilots,
It is for pilots who are ahead of their airplane.

I can see why getting behind this plane will put you in a boatload of trouble, but flying it, FOR ME, was no different then my Sundowner.

This was my first time in a glass cockpit airplane and to be honest, much easier to fly then I ever expected, as scanning isn’t as critical. EVERYTHING is in eye sight, HSI, speed, everything.

A large training curve would be in order to navigate the menus and such, but the Cirrus rep said that could be done in one day. He said its a much larger training curve for the Garmin 430’s then the MFD and PFD displayes.

Bottom line…

I had to do the same steps to fly this beast, as I do my Sundowner
I had to do the same steps to land this beast as I do my Sundowner.

If you fly the plane from the moment you turn the master on to the time you flip the master off, theh Cirrus 22 is just as safe as any other proven hardware in my HUMBLE OPINION.

Great experience for me in my short time in aviation.

Allen


#2

Great feedback Allen, thanks for the first hand report.


#3

Very interesting. Thanks for all the info.

I have had the opportunity to fly in the SR-22 a couple of times in the backseat but have never actually flown it. It’s an awesome plane but an incredible maintainance hog. For a 1/2 million I would rather get a nice Bonanza.


#4

Allen,

I bought a new 2005 SR22 in Dec 2005 and everything you say is dead on. It’s just a plane. I transitioned from a Comanche 260 and I found the SR22 easier to fly in every way. You’ve absolutely got to stay ahead of the airplane, but it will reward you with comfort, speed, and a real high-tech feeling ride. I’ll knock on wood when I say this, but it’s been nearly maintenance free over the last year and a half.

Your post reminds me of my feeling after my first test flight!


#5

I was a CFI in Cirrus for 6 months at my school, and I disagree. These kids will only fly faster, more complex planes. Why not get them introduced at an earlier stage in life? Our 400+ students flying them have not had problems, other than a few landings problems, but they have thanked the Deans for exposing them to this type of plane at this stage. That way, when they go on to the multi’s, it nothing for them. The cirrus does take time to get use to, but it’s nothing to be afraid of. You’re only as good as the CFI who taught you.


#6

Sorry… Still disagree.

Doesn’t the word high performance and inexperience worry you? No different then taking a new driver and expecting him (or her) to work in a Nascar environment. JFK was in a high performance plane and got behind it in conditions not condusive of inexperience flying. Wouldn’t that worry you?

While this thread talks Cirrus, doesn’t matter what plane model you want to talk about.

Things happen much faster, and it’s hard enough to learn the basics at a cozy C152 / 172 speed.

Expecting that same reaction time in a high performance plane (a cirrus is high performance) is breeding grounds for trouble.

High performance planes are unforgiving, and that applies to the Cirrus. I sure wouldn’t put a student or an inexperience driver in a Corvette on an interstate! Would you?

Allen


#7

OK!!! Someone said the magic words! JFK Jr. and the “high performance airplane” . The Lance/Saratoga, while defined by the FAA as a high performance/complex aircraft, is not a rocketship that is difficult to handle. It flies at relatively slow speeds, is as stable as your couch, and has very docile handling. The entire responsibility for the crash lies with JFK Jr. and his incredibly poor decision to fly over water, at night, and in low visibility. Having spent many years flying professionally in turbine equipment, with hundreds of trips to MVY/ACK/HYA, etc…I can attest to the challenges of operating in that area when the weather is crappy. His experience, or lack thereof, in the aircraft may have been a factor, but this was yet another example of a pilot continuing VFR flight into a known area of poor weather with a tragic outcome. Poor decision making claims many innocent passengers lives, and as pilots, we need to take ego and the desire to “get there” out of our decision making process.


#8

While it may fly at relatively slow speeds, an inexperience pilot wouldn’t be handling it like an experience pilot, and I would be betting he wasn’t in a slow flight configuration, and fell behind the airplane covering 4 or 5 miles a minute.

Spatial disorientation exasperated the situation even further.

Saratoga, Cirrus, whatever, no different then putting a 16 year old in a Corvette in my humble opinion. The two just don’t mix (inexperience and high powered / high performance equipment)

BTW, I would describe the Cirrus the same way as you describe the Saratoga. Stalls are as benign as a stall can get, and like I said in the earlier post, you fly the plane from startup to shut down, no different then a C152.

Allen


#9

An SR22 is no less complicated and challenging to fly than my old Bellanca Viking, 300hp, small wings, 160kts cruise, 60kt Vs1, GNS430, high HP / wing area ratio, narrow gear track and small distance between mains and nose gear.

My ‘new’ Comanche has a S-Tec 60-2, GPSS, GNS530, storm scope, HSI and all types of complex avionics and a laminar flow wing and it sits low, just like the Viking. It is a handful to land if you don’t stall the wing onto the ground = not hard, just takes a little skill.

Some airplanes are challenging - a high performance aircraft, single engine or not, is a high performance aircraft requiring skill, training, staying ahead of the aircraft and lots of time getting comfortable with the systems. The SR22 ‘problems’ deal more with money that anything else - the typical owner is a 300-500hr pilot who is coming over from a Cherokee or something similar. The Sr22 is the new dcotor killer, with high income, low time pilots buying their way into an exclusive club. Not only does the pilot have the distractions of learning a new airplane, power settings, handling quirks and miscellany, but THEN they add the distraction of the glass panel to the mix and it is very very easy to get waaaaaay behind the airplane. Thats when the trouble happens. The ability to buy an SR22 does not convey the skill to do so, and these are successful people, lots of ego and lots of overconfidence in their abilities. I am sure that the studies of SR22 crashes will ultimately conclude that.

I had the benefit of flying a Cherokee 180 for 250 hours, which had basic IFR avionics, then the Viking where I learned the 1 axis course holding and how to operate the Garmin 430 while dealing with the high power and quirks of the Viking. The transition to the HSI, GPSS and alt hold / preselect and complexity of the S-Tec autopilot was a natural progression, opposed to a wholesale change.

The airplane itself [SR22] is not hard to fly. . . the complexity comes from the avionix that require at least weekly use to remain current on.


#10

My belief is that if JFK had had a Cirrus he would have not killed himself like he did. I believe he died in a mnage trois in the back of a six-seat airplane. There is no way you can get three adult people in a Cirrus disrobing and doing the nasty. Absolutely no problem doing that in a Saratoga :smiley:

I have now flown in a Cirrus two times: an early model in 2000 and a new model a few weeks ago. The new model is much much better in all aspects to the old (chips on wings, vibration, etc…) But the part of the new Cirrus that is not better is the cost of repairs, the number of SB’s and parts prices. If you know a Cirrus owner well, and I say well, because they will be loathe to tell you this, the plane is a real let down. Once you are past warranty, the cost of rebuilding the brakes every year (ham footed pilots in taxi and landings have caused overheating, fires and an SB for rebuilding each year), the extremely high (even compared to a Bonanza) proprietary parts, shoot inspection and repacking, insurance, doors opening and coming off in flight (the owner I know, will not let you close the passenger door and will only let you open them at 0 winds-that appears to be where the damage is done to the hinges. Side note, even with all those precautions, his doors have opened in flight, a half of dozen times in two years). The list goes on and on.

All planes have problems and their glitches, but do your homework, find an honest humble Cirrus pilot and see what their annuals, insurance and out-of-warranty required service and parts cost. If you still like the plane, buy it and have some fun. Just remember to forget the Mnage Trois while in-flight!


#11

i find the non owner comments about cirrus maintenance costs to be a bit humorous. Maybe a comment or 2 from an owner 18 months into the game would be of interest to the forum.

first of all, i had an A36 Bonanza which i loved. i got my instrument rating in it as a 100 hour pilot, flew it for another 700, sold it and bought the Cirrus. i couldn’t be happier; the only change i’d make would be cargo doors and removable rear seats. :slight_smile: i have 300+ hours on the SR22 after 18 months, so the airplane is flown a lot.

The airplane is much like the bonanza; you fly it by the numbers. And the numbers are basically the same for the 2 airplanes, its just that the cirrus is an order of magnitude more comfortable and 20 knots faster.

I was concerned about the adjusting my scan to the glass panel and the left hand stick; no sweat with either. you adapt within a few hours of flying, but, even more than the bonanza, you have to stay ahead of the airplane! but once you have your power and trim settings established, the airplane does just what you want it to do. every time.

my first annual cost about 1500 bucks and there were no deficiencis not covered by my 3 year warranty. so it was all labor to inspect and adjust. i find the cost of parts, in general, to be no more than my bonanza’s. Cirrus customer service is extraordinarily good. i’ve had a few glitches with door hinges, AC noise in my comm2 radio, and one of my Garmin 430’s had a gremlin in it. all handled to my satisfaction and at no out of pocket cost to me.

Finally, i’d point out that you cannot buy a new glass panel bonanza with the Platinum IO550 engine for a half a million. its well north of 600,000 and there is no CAPS system available for it…and don’t underestimate the convenience of having those 2 gull wing doors and the ease of entry and egress they provide for you and your passengers.

the cirrus is a no brainer.


#12

I gotta tell you that my non-owner maintenance opinions come from talking to several Cirrus approved maintenance shops around several states and two countries, as well as several owners.

I suspect that the opinions of owners are overwhelmed by their own experience, which makes it anecdotal.

In two years of owning my '95 Mooney, I have hardly had a part fail at all. I would not use that as evidence that it isn’t likely to happen.

Instead, I would use the gathered intelligence of talking to shop owners (especially the factory approved shops).

Cirrus use more parts than they should. That doesn’t mean they are not good planes, just that there is still room for improvement.


#13

I love the concept of the Cirrus, but should I be concerned when my life insurance agent asks:
1) Do you skydive?
2) Do you fly in experimental airplanes?
3) Do you fly a Cirrus?
4) Do you ride with anyone who flies a Cirrus?

:stuck_out_tongue:

USNA '75


#14

Try more like 3 miles a min- I do 5-6 miles a min in a jet.

Allen, let me throw this in the mix. I don’t care if you’re a low-time pilot and you fly a Complex-HP AC.
If you ONLY fly your Comx-HP AC 3 times a year. THEN BE AFRAID.

If you are flying the AC in VFR and fly 3-4 times a month then it won’t take long for you to become exp in type. There are low time pilots that can fly the -22 better then I can and I have over 6k hours.
The only thing that scares me about that AC is the Glass- VFR pilots looking inside is a BAD thing

JFK was a moron (RIP) He failed to turn around in bad WX and then didn’t recognize when the AC entered a “death spiral” he was also in a hurry to get where he was going.


#15

Agree without wind consideration, but I was really doing 4 miles a minute with a healthy tailwind.and running almost wide open (ground speed of 235 knots) :wink:

It’s your last sentence that makes me think the Cirrus is not for young pups or low time pilots. They won’t get past the eye candy as part of human nature is why I say what I do just as seeing freshly minted students fly via ground based Nav aids such as check points instead of the eye in the sky AKA GPS. I am all for technology and using every tool, but check points outside the windscreen will never have a RAIM outage :smiley:

Did he actually fly into bad weather or was it bad from wheels up and he should have never launched?


#16

IIRC it was VMC(he was not Instrument rated), with summer haze. He didn’t get into trouble until he turned for the Vineyard and lost the horizon over the water (may have been moonless as well, but digging into the memory banks on that).


#17

Never should have gone. I was flying the Cape and Islands that night. It was typical summertime “VFR”, which is to say visibility was crappy. It was getting dark, no discernible horizon, over water…he should have brought the CFI with him. The weather wasn’t bad, just a perfect mix of conditions for this type of accident.


#18

are you sure you are not being compensated for this evaluation?


#19

Almost moonless, and the accident occured sometime around 9:30 to 9:45. It was just 4 days after the new moon, so there was a thin sliver of moon. Weather wasn’t bad, KMVY was reporting 6 to 10 miles visibility in haze in the hours leading up to the accident, with clear skies all afternoon and night. It was just dark and hazy and out over the water. So easy to prevent.


#20

Disagree that this plane is not for some student pilots. Why would somebody who wants to fly a fast plane not want to train on a fast plane. Training just means more time with an instructor watching out for you. If a student is taught to stay ahead of this plane, they will be a safer pilot then one taught to stay ahead of a sluggish C-152. Does it cost more to rent a Cirrus for training? yes of course. And it will probably take longer since there is more going on at an expedited rate; but for many students, this is a great starting point in their pilot career. I train on a SR20 which is the 200 horsepower little brother of the SR22, but I have flown 22’s on many occasions because the flight school only has one 20 and ten or so 22’s up for rental. I personally enjoy flying an SR22 ever once in a while for a dual cross country because it shows and exaggerates my flaws, and lets my instructor know what I need work on. And who doesn’t like a finishing their 100 mile FAA required cross country in less than an hour!

I have been blogging my SR20 flight training experience because when I was searching the web for information on training in a Cirrus, it was not there. I think my blog will help prove that any one can initially train on a Cirrus and it may actually be beneficial depending on the type of pilot one wants to become. Check out my blog here: cirrussr20training.com/
-Neil