A Kick In The Glass: A First Look at the Cirrus Design SR22-G2 (Part Five) | Aero-News Network
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Sat, May 15, 2004

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

An Evolutionary Step Forward For A Revolutionary Airplane

Cruising along, the overall feel of the SR22 is that of a much bigger airplane, despite it's 'modest' wing loading. The SR22's higher wing loading (as compared  to the SR20) really handles light to moderate turbulence well, keeping the ride surprisingly comfortable through a lot of the weather conditions that most single-engine GA pilots would attempt to negotiate. Internally, the cabin is a joy to fly in… No kidding. It's roomy, the visibility is GREAT, and the cabin is laid out superbly for a single pilot working in the IFR environment… without a yoke or stick in the way, there's adequate room to lay out plates and charts, while the spacing from other occupants means not having to rub elbows incessantly. This is a truly inspired little transportation system… and for a change it has a back seat that offers enough room for passengers to enjoy the ride, rather than count the minutes til landing, so that they can unbend themselves and stretch out. Ventilation could use a little more work on those days when the sun bakes all that glass and slow roasts the cabin. The optional air conditioning system is going to be a very popular option… especially for we southern flyers.

Taking on A Slower Pace

After blasting through the ether at speeds that left most metal machines in the dust, it was time to slow the proceedings down. The G2 is no different than any other SR22 in the low speed regime... but that's just fine… nothing was broke in that department, to begin with.

The SR22 does very well in the slow-flight regime, despite some nay-sayers who obviously don't know the airplane. Flap extension produces a negligible trim change with the first "notch" (about 50% of their deployable capability) and a fair amount more with the second/last position. Max flap extension speeds are generous… 119 knots for half deployment, and 104 knots for the works. Simple decelration takes place sparingly and the SR22 holds energy well. G-Induced deceleration is a bit more aggressive and allows one to bleed speed off a bit quicker with 2-2.5 G pulls… but otherwise the behavior is quite solid and overtly symmetrical.

To slow down, pull the power back all the way, and wait... a while. With flaps up, the SR22 will go on and on and on. To slow it down, it's going to require significant pitch persuasion to get anywhere near the stall regime, though the slow-flight behavior boasts excellent controllability and little discernible loss of effectiveness as you work your way down to 65 kts. A light root buffet, of light frequency and amplitude, shows up in the 60s as the bird gets to a point of "stalling"… which is mostly a slight pitch buck of limited amplitude and frequency before finally giving up the ghost… which is going to take a LOT of aft stick to maintain to a departure--such as it is. Lateral control effectiveness is very good, while rudder authority is simply outstanding. The clean stall comes at near to 65 knots… but we didn't get much of a departure, no matter how hard we tried.

Drop the flaps and the bird takes on an even more genteel persona. Roll control remains aggressive, overall control pressures ease off a bit as you slow down, and the rudder rocks on as though you were still doing 100kts… There is an excellent and light airframe (mostly root) buffet that comes into play as you drop below 70 kts and gains prominence as you work your way into the 57-59 knot range. It remains fairly light through the break and sports a light amplitude that is hard to mistake but is (also) hardly worrisome. The buffet becomes more prominent under load, as demonstrated during accelerated stalls… excellent. One thing about the fully stalled SR22… once you get everything hanging out and stall the bird, the sink rate increases dramatically… so be aware of that as you start working into landing approaches--especially on short final. Recovery is a simple matter of decreasing pitch pressure and letting the bird reassert a proper attitude of attack. Power arrests the attendant sink rate immediately.

A lot has been made of the fact that the Cirrus manual says that the proper recovery for accidental spins is using the chute. The manual states that, "The SR22 is not approved for spins, and has not been tested or certified for spin recovery characteristics. The only approved and demonstrated method of spin recovery is activation of the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System. Because of this, if the aircraft 'departs controlled flight,' the CAPS must be deployed." Despite some pretty aggressive coordination abuses, I found the fully  stalled SR22 to be remarkably well-behaved and observed little tendency toward overt autorotation. The beast will buffet up a storm, and break lightly into the bank if you insist on exacerbating the exercize, but there is no overt yawing associated with that, and rudder control remains sterling throughout. If someone gets into an inadvertent spin, they're going to have to really screw up. I wish I could speak about the true spin modes of the SR series… I have some insight from prior test pilots that suggests the issues involved are about the rotation rate involved in a stable-state spin and the time it's going to take to arrest the resultant rotational inertia and actually recover… At some point, I hope CD will allow us a chance to explore that part of the envelope… I have a feeling that the airplane will recover well, if you have the expertise and altitude to arrest the autorotation.

Take Me Home…

The SR22 is pretty easy to land and boasts very consistent behavior through most configurations. Most notable, though, is the extra mass inertia carried through in the landing by the somewhat heavier IO-550 powered bird. This means the one needs to watch speed and energy, when using short strips, because the bird does want to keep moving. It takes proper energy management to eke out the best short-field response.
Best approach protocols suggest using about 100 kts on the downwind, 90 on the base and 80 on final, with 70-75 in the short flare. The speed profile works well here with either flap position, while no-flap landings are going to require some challenging speed management-though this is the one place that having the fast pitch trim response comes in handy.

Approach handling is simply superb. Visibility over the nose is outstanding. But… get a feel for the energy of your airplane or you're going to spend a little time chasing yourself in the flare until you understand how this airplane decelerates and accelerates in the approach configuration. Mind you; there is nothing tricky here… but there is a lot of horsepower and mass up front, as compared to the SR20… though the longer, more lift-inducing wing of the SR22 does a great job of cutting the differences down to size.

The best landings seem to come with the addition of just a little power, late in the flare, to offer some additional pitch authority, arrest residual sink, and with the bird trimmed well aft. DO NOT fly the final part of the approach at less than 75 knots until you get a feel for the bird. It'll fly all day at 70-75 kts… but if you get sloppy, you can induce a heckuva sink with bad energy management. There is an initial tendency to flare high, but a little practice will give one the sight picture needed to properly judge their altitude and attitude in the final stages of arrival. This is the only point when control pressures get ponderous since you'll use a lot of pitch to work the flare. As soon as you plant the mains, come off the power, maintain heading and brake as necessary. With good speed management and moderate to heavy braking, the SR22 will easily show it's ability to get itself stopped in 1100-1500 feet. You'll need at least twice that when dealing with the stereotypical 50 foot obstacle.

You'll find the lateral authority to be outstanding right through the touchdown and beyond, with a little roll input countering some pretty stiff crosswinds, easily.  In other SR22s, I've easily dealt with 20-25 knots, directly abeam, and still had sufficient rudder authority to keep things straight with enough roll to counter drift. Braking action is very good, and there is little difficulty keeping things lined up (even without brakes) until you slow to about 15-20 kts when rudder effectiveness is curtailed.

ANN Test Pilot's Summary

The SR22 was a helluva bird… but the G2 got rid of most of the "yeah, buts" we'd had over the years (pretty much all but the placement of the secondary flight instruments). The bird boasts great visibility, superb handling and is a truly manageable GA transportation system that I have no qualms about handing over to a properly trained low-timer. It simply doesn't have any bad habits or obvious 'gotchas' that'll bust your butt unless you really aren't paying attention…

And that PFD… that's the way ALL GA airplanes should be equipped in the future… once you've gone EFIS, you'll never go back. Yeah, we loved the darned thing and our only bitch with the bird is that it's simply out of our price range… but if you see us with an SR20-G2 in the future, though, don't be surprised--we might just be able to pull that off. Then again, some of those fractional programs utilizing the SR22 might just do the trick… we shall see.

All in all, this is a truly superb airplane… and it is (for now and for the money) the plane to beat in the high-performance, piston, single engine GA marketplace. You're going to see a LOT of these in the skies of the world over the next few years. It is not the best airplane at every task… but it does a little bit of everything better than most. The SR22-G2, to our way of thinking, is currently the best overall airplane in a class that is getting to be truly competitive. We can't wait to see what follows this.

Pros

  • Speedy airplane with excellent load hauling capability over a good piece of real estate.
  • Great handling, fine-tuned nicely for cross-country missions.
  • Avidyne EFIS system is coming along nicely and better things are still in the works.
  • The chute rocks!
  • Excellent autopilot installation and capabilities.
  • An outstanding company backs this airplane with EXCELLENT (and still improving) customer service (DO NOT discount the importance of this).

Cons:

  • Secondary flight instrument placement could be better positioned for actual use.
  • Color selections need some 'spiffing' up.
  • A little hotter, landing-wise, than the SR20.
  • Needs (desperately) a proper in-flight weather datalink solution.
  • PFD needs a Flight director presentation.
  • The far right-side engine gauges should be a bit easier to see from the pilot's seat.
  • A little pricy… especially with deicing and all the goodies, but a thoroughly solid transportation system, thus equipped.

(Next On The Roster: ANN will be publishing flight test data and research from our flights in the recently certificated Lancair Columbia 400 shortly -- don't miss it!)

FMI: www.cirrusdesign.com

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