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Thu, May 13, 2004

A Kick In The Glass: A First Look at the Cirrus Design SR22-G2 (Part Three)

An Evolutionary Step Forward For A Revolutionary Airplane

Let's Get Rolling!

Sure... it looks like the front end of the StarShip Enterprise, but the G2's starting system is pretty uncomplicated once you get through the checklist, pop on the electrical (though one must note that there is a lot more electrical to deal with than other airplanes… since the SR22 has two separate electrical systems), prime (if required) and fire the works up, advancing the mixture as soon as you get the fire burning. Please note the absence of a prop control...

The SR22-G2 started readily (with a truly magnificent, baritone, full-throated, "I'm SO ready for business" kind of sound) and required little priming as it was still warm from having flown in. The Avidyne system did it's thing (and told us we could taxi as we pleased, even during most of the ADHRS alignment), while a simple fuel selector system (either select the left or right tank, or turn them off) allowed us to select the fullest tank as we prepared to head out of Gilbert Field.

The PFD kept us to date on the status of the avionics (and their readiness for flight) as we headed out to Gilbert Field's Runway 4 on a fairly warm day (nearly 90 degrees). A little power gets things moving quickly, while differential braking does steering honors. The SR22 has a very tight turning radius (think of the free-castering nose as a taildragger in reverse...) when the situation warrants, though the wide gear geometry fights upset and over-reaction. It also responds a bit lighter and more aggressively than I expected with the heavy 550 taking up residence on the front porch.

There is very little nosewheel strut compression in heavy braking and surprisingly little sway in tight turns-despite the considerable mass inertia involved in aggressive maneuvering. Braking action is good, ground viz is also fairly good and in the heat, the doors needed to be cracked a bit to keep things from getting too toasty… there is way too much glass in the G2 to avoid roasting on a warm day. The promised advent of an Air Conditioning system for future SR22s is gong to be a blessing (and a VERY popular option).

Our flight was to be conducted with 60 gallons of fuel and about 450 pounds in the cabin (gear and all). The normal gross of a G2 is 3400 pounds, with a useful load of 1150… leaving us enough room for at least another passenger… possibly two, if one wasn't two heavy… If we'd tanked up to the 81 gallon limit, however, we'd have had to limit ourselves to just one more soul.

The Entegra got it's act together well before we got to the active runway so there were no excuses left… with half flaps deployed for take-off, pitch trim rolled back to a proper configuration, a light to moderate crosswind from the right and 91 degrees boiling off  Runway 4. I firewalled the IO-550, tapped the brakes lightly to keep things lined up and was rewarded with excellent acceleration and a swift liftoff. The process is aided slightly with enough pitch persuasion to break ground, and lessened just a bit, immediately thereafter to prevent over-rotation. This took all of 800 feet… well under what I'd expected from the conditions involved. SR22s are not bashful about playing in the air… and get there quickly.

Climb Me To The Moon…

Initial climb capabilities allowed the G2 to brag about 1200-1500 fpm climb rates at 100 knots… speed that allowed the IO-550 to cool very well and offered pretty good visibility in a piece of airspace known to have way too many targets for potential conflict the area just south of the Orlando Class B has become quite the VFR shooting gallery of late). Through 5500 feet (and even in other climbs in older SR22s), the bird demonstrates an unerring ability to stay well on the good side of 1000 fpm though 10,000 feet or so, unless REALLY loaded down. Our climbs to 5500 feet averaged a solid 1170-1290 fpm throughout the profile. Every flight I've made in any variant of the SR22 has been able to beat the "book" climb rates quoted by CD.

I truly appreciate the way that Cirrus worked on the cockpit visibility in this airplane. The windshield is far enough aft to not screw up one's peripheral visibility too badly (one of my few complaints with the Lancair Columbia… the windshield frame terminates in an area that restricts lateral vision in what I consider to be an important area). Visibility over the nose is fairly good, though in an obstacle clearance climb, one will need to relent on pitch now and then, to see ahead… but no worse than anything else in this category. In cruise and approach modes, the window-gifted Cirrus has few peers in overall visibility… it's damned good. 

A word here about the Cirrus side-stick. It's a pretty unique construct in that the pitch attitude is motivated via a push-pull slide arrangement that moves fore and aft rather than bending (at the base) forward and backward. I love side-sticks… it's my preferred mode of flight control and the long-term comfort factor is impossible to argue with (albeit only with side-stick assemblies designed with some sense of real ergonomics). There's a lot to like in the Cirrus arrangement… a system that lends itself well to long cross country and approach modes… though I tend to prefer a side-stick that uses a pivoting base/pitch actuation mode for hard maneuvering… while the sliding arrangement seems perfect for long cross-country adjustments and approach-mode corrections.

There is a thumb actuated trim button on the top of the stick that works well in lateral correction (noting that roll and yaw are mechanically interlinked and mixed to a slight degree) but I do find the pitch trim to be a bit sensitive. It's easy to get used to… but the fine tuning that may be needed during a series of rapid-fire approach descents are going to be heard to nail down until one gets REALLY used to the rate. I'd love to see a way for flyers to adjust the rate to suit their needs. That would be a great option to have (hint, hint). 

Cirrus Design, Inc.




1,341 ft  

1,020 ft

Takeoff (50' object) 

1,958 ft    

1,575 ft

Max rate of climb

900 ft/min    

1,400 ft/min 

Cruise speed

156 KTAS     

180 KTAS*

Stall speed w/flaps

54 KIAS    

59 KIAS 

Maximum range

882 nm   

over 1000 nm 

Landing (Ground roll) 

1,014 ft    

1,140 ft 

Landing (50' object)

2,040 ft   

2,325 ft

Cirrus Design Inc., Specifications  











8' 6"     

8' 7"



38' 6"

Wing Area   

135 sq ft   

144.9 sq ft 

Cabin Length   



Cabin Width   



Cabin Height   



Landing Gear   

Fixed Tricycle   

Fixed Tricycle

Max Gross Wt

3,000 lbs    

3,400 lbs

Std Empty Wt   

2,050 lbs  

 2,250 lbs

Maximum Useful Load   

930 lbs  

1,150 lbs

Fuel Capacity (Usable)   

56 gals/336 lbs   

81 gals/486 lbs

To be continued...

[Next On The Roster: ANN will be publishing flight test data and research from our flights in the recently certificated Lancair Columbia 400 as soon as we finish the SR22-G2 series… don't miss it!]

FMI: www.cirrusdesign.com


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