Pushing Both 'Top' and
'Bottom' of Line
Cirrus Design, as we noted on these pages, has
expanded its line in both directions -- up and down -- and ANN got
a good look at the expanded line, at a preview at their Duluth (MN)
The SRV [that's all letters; not "SR-five" --ed.] is a VFR-only
machine (above), built to meet the $189,900 price tag. It's
basically an SR20, but without some of the snazzy touches or
significant avionics expense. Nevertheless, it's a very nice
The glass cockpit, now standard across Cirrus's line, continues
to offer a lot of clearly-presented information to the pilot. Some
redundancies have been eliminated, though; and of course some
equipment isn't there at all. As CEO Alan Klapmeier told us, it
offers, "performance, comfort, ease of operation, and safety" to
the pilot who doesn't fly instruments.
Cirrus believes there
are a lot of reasons to buy a VFR-only Cirrus. Alan reminded us
that aviation has long considered itself an industry unlike any
other. On so many fronts, he says, that's rubbish, and a partial
explanation why light GA has had such tough times in the past
couple decades. "This is a consumer-driven industry," he said. For
too long, he said, GA has considered itself technology-driven. "We
have to act like a consumer-driven industry... Focus on the
consumer: that's where technology can make a more user-friendly
airplane -- we don't use technology for its own sake." He sees a
near future where "...people all over the economy will be using
aviation as a part of their daily lives."
Ian Bentley at Cirrus told our reporter that there are several
markets that should appreciate the SRV's philosophy.
- There are significant portions of the world where, because of
weather patterns, IFR flight is a relative rarity.
- A lot of US pilots aren't rated for instrument flight, but they
would appreciate having a modern airplane to fly.
- Particularly in Europe, there are a lot of GA pilots who are
stopped from getting instrument tickets by the number and expense
of obstacles to that rating.
- Lastly, there are a number of flying clubs, FBOs, and flight
schools who can just as easily use a VFR aircraft as an IFR
aircraft -- a large proportion of their users/students/pilots are
flying VFR only, anyway, so there's no reason to wear out the
more-expensive airplanes on those flights.
The SRV is the
second-lowest-priced certified 4-place airplane available, with a
PFD. [The Diamond DA-40, in base VFR trim, is $1000 less --ed.] "It
makes it easier to fly precision approaches in VFR," said Alan,
"and there's enough information there to tell you when you're
The low price is achieved by making surprisingly few changes to
the SR20. On the SRV, you'll note:
- the 2-blade prop (the base SR20 has a 2-blade, but it's rarely
ordered that way);
- no nosewheel fairing
- attenuated trim-color striping
- no trim on the (main) wheel pants, or the wings; and
- a more-basic cargo door treatment.
The avionics differences should also be obvious: not included
are an autopilot, a backup ADI, an extra radio -- and some other
IFR-only magic boxes. What is there, for $189,900, is a VFR
near-performance-equivalent SR20 without some of the trim: a modern
airplane for the VFR pilot.
Like all its Cirrus brethren, the SRV incorporates the
life-saving BRS ("CAPS") ballistic parachute system.
That Centennial Edition SR22
The first non-white Cirrus is a gorgeous machine, pushing the
'appearance and amenities' envelope, while maintaining performance
identical to the standard, 310hp SR22. That paint, a special PPG
mix officially called, "Linen White," accented with "Coco Brown and
Beige" [we all thought "cream and caramel" was closer, but we
didn't hold the focus groups --ed] inside, is a delicious-looking
treatment. As the Centennial Edition sat on the ramp next to the
standard white SR22, we figured the looks alone would sell out the
planned production run of 100 airplanes, in record time. In fact,
Ian Bentley told us this week, "We're nearly half sold out already.
to sell out of the Centennial Edition within the next 6 weeks or
Starting indoors, it's
hard not to notice the leather-wrapped everything (sticks, flap
handle, chewing-gum dispenser -- OK, we made that one up), and the
yummy French-stitched leather seats, accented by
beautifully-complementary brown touches and carpet. The Wright
Flyer is embroidered into the front-seat backs, as well. Even the
cargo-door splash plate has some classy etching, to remind your
valet that he's putting bags into a Cirrus.
Outside, the special treatment continues, with a Wright Flyer
painted on the tail, special metallic trim, and chrome in a number
of places: the step stem, the exhaust tips, handles...
One big difference
you'll notice is the color-matched prop. It's a 3-blade unit,
similar to what the SR20 and SR22 wear, but it's the first McCauley
prop certified on a Cirrus. Behind that prop is a TCM 'Platinum'
Series engine, and it's mounted on a new-design, 6-point motor
mount (right) that's unique to the Centennial Edition. [No one at
Cirrus would say how long that new engine mount system would
continue to be Centennial-only --ed.]
Recently added to the option list on SR22s, an ice-fighting TKS
system 'weeping wing' option will be available on the Centennial
Edition. Some 90% of current-build SR22s are ordered with that
system, Jerry Heizer, Cirrus's Director of Assembly, told us. One
hundred of these special machines will be produced, and that's
One of the "stories behind the story" was the change in paint
Cirrus and PPG worked nearly a year to ensure that the new color
wouldn't cause any troubles for the composite structure. Anyone who
thinks that paint is just a matter of taste hasn't tried to change
paint, or color, on a certified composite aircraft!
If you're still waiting:
Cirrus will begin
flight testing their SR21 TDI (diesel) in 2004. That machine will
feature an all-new-interior design and some next-generation
avionics, among other things.
One of those "other things" will likely be a redesigned
It won't look a whole lot different, but it will allow further
cost savings, without compromising strength. For instance, it will
incorporate a 1-piece cargo door. [The current design has four
There are now, counting option packages, eleven ways to have
your Cirrus. There are four models (SRV, SR20, SR22, and SR22
Centennial Edition), three engines, and two wings (with and without
ice protection) -- so if you don't want to wait, you can get what
[We met a lady pilot from California who resumed her flight
training after years of inactivity, and passed her check ride a
month later. Then she ordered her SR22... and was getting trained
in it, while we were there. Just one month since that checkride,
and she was picking up her new Cirrus. Quick delivery, eh?