If money was no object, should you add a Cirrus aircraft to your family? If you are considering a high-performance single-engine, then you need to read this review as with sophistication comes with great responsibility.
In airlines, there is always a tongue-in-cheek joke that ‘if pilots were in charge of ordering the aircraft, they would upsize everything!’ The Cirrus aircraft is like a pilot was left alone with the order sheet including everything their heart desired from the aspect of safety right through to comfort and of course, the need to arrive like a rock star. The Cirrus aircraft is in a league of its own, a new benchmark in the light aircraft lifestyle, and by the end of this review, you will most likely want one. The Cirrus team have attracted a new buyer to the single-engine market, but the positives of this aircraft need to be measured against the challenges they also present to even an experienced pilot. Please note the fancy bells and whistles the Cirrus range has does mean that you need to practise and refine the art of flying it well.
What is Cirrus aircraft?
A Cirrus aircraft is a complete show off … in a good way! While there are a few different models, it is the ‘Cirrus concept’ that is common throughout. We are going to start with understanding the overall concept then drill down deeper. The Cirrus concept is to consider the best outcome in all areas. Safety is threaded throughout from the world-breaking Cirrus Airframe Parachute System® (CAPS®) which covers the single-engine fear, to the real-time support in training, systems monitoring and state-of-the-art glass cockpit that makes you feel like you have a co-pilot that has your back. The most common Cirrus aircraft on the market currently are the piston engine versions which are a 4-5 seat delight sporting a six-cylinder Continental or a four-cylinder Lycoming depending on the model. Cirrus aircraft latest addition to the family is the Vision jet, a single-engine jet for up to seven passengers.
Some features of Cirrus aircraft are smart device charging, Cirrus IQ for real time monitoring and reminders, innovative streamlining of external surfaces for speed and performance, and an envied glass cockpit design. At first glance, it looks very sophisticated and needs to be respected as such. If you apply a healthy respect for this class of aircraft, it can be a sleek little pocket rocket and lifestyle changer.
The Cirrus aircraft piston stats (depending on model)
Engine 215-315 hp
True airspeed (TAS) of 155-213 knots
Payload 1028-1246 lbs based on a 3-hour trip and 45 minutes reserve
Take off distance 1685-1517ft
The Vision Jets stats are impressive
True airspeed (TAS) of 305 knots
Payload 1400 lbs
Take off distance 2036 ft
What types of Cirrus Aircraft are there and what are the most popular?
Cirrus report that their piston SR series, made up of the SR20, SR22, and SR22T is the best seller 19 years in a row with the 8000th rolling of the production line and a healthy eleven million flight hours. The functionality and full support technology help make this a popular range for the pilot that simply wants to come home safe. The speed and performance spell out an exceptional time saving tool expanding where and how you want to work, live, and play.
The Vision Jet which was launched in 2016 has set the new bar in ‘personal’ jet accessibility in a class of its own, with a focus on what we are all worried about … the risk of the single-pilot having a medical condition. Not only does this fancy jet have the signature Cirrus Airframe Parachute system, the FAA more recently approved the ‘Safe return emergency autoland’ feature where a passenger at the push of a button can set the aircraft up for a safe return. The approval of this translated to an increase of sales into the multi hundreds.
To make a call on the most popular it comes down to your personal needs.
1. Cirrus Vision Jet. Fastest single engine business jet. Williams International FJ335A engine. Basic price before add-ons >$2 million USD
2. Cirrus SR20 fitted Lycoming IO390-C3B6 engine. Comfy seat. Electronic support. New remote unlock and stay open fantastic feature. Basic price before add-ons >$520,000 USD
3. Cirrus SR22 fitted Continental IO-550N engine. Wigwag presence wingtip lighting. Cirrus IQ. Realtime support. Basic price before add-ons >$700,000 USD
Where are Cirrus aircraft made?
The headquarters and main manufacturing of Cirrus aircraft is in Duluth, Minnesota with additional manufacturing of composite parts in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Cirrus also supports their aircraft with many other locations including ‘Cirrus aircraft campuses’ for maintenance and parts, ‘Cirrus training centres and Instructors for rental and training spread over the entire continent of the US.
How much is a new SR-22 Cirrus aircraft to purchase (in USD), and what is the price second-hand?
A new Cirrus aircraft SR22 with base inclusions will set you back over $700,000USD however if you like things with the lot and want all the add-ons then you will need to stretch up to another $150,000+USD, and that is before you get excited about selection of your style. Realistically have $1million USD in your pocket. If you are in the market at this level of sophisticated single personal aviation treat, then the additions are likely to be worth your while.
Another bonus in owning a Cirrus aircraft is that they hold their value. To compare like for like, if you spend $1million on a new SR22, then a 1–2-year-old equivalent is still in the vicinity of $700,000USD.
Where can you buy a Cirrus aircraft (either brand new, or second hand)?
Once you have made the decision to get a ‘Cirrus life’ then you can buy new or used Cirrus directly from the manufacturer by visiting their website and leaving your details. For used Cirrus planes there are also many aircraft trading sites to hunt for however it is recommended that you have a clear picture of your own needs before you start. The proposed use of your Cirrus will determine which model and combination of features is the minimum you need. Start with talking to the manufacturer direct then you are armed with better knowledge as you search the web for external providers.
What is the cheapest Cirrus plane?
The cheapest new Cirrus aircraft is the SR20 however it would be worth considering a second-hand option if it has all the features you seek.
What is the Cirrus CAPS feature and what is its operating envelope? (parachute)
The Cirrus CAPS feature is the airframe parachute system designed to give the pilot an option under certain conditions to deploy and float to the surface. It is a parachute packed into a box the size of a suitcase with an in flight emergency activation handle inside the aircraft between the two front seats. When the handle is pulled, a small rocket is deployed to pull out the parachute allowing it to open. The initial effect of deployment with pulling the nose up slightly, saving height, then the nose will lower until the full parachute is open and the aircraft attitude settles to a touchdown level attitude.
There is no official minimum height to deploy due to the minimum altitude loss if the aircraft was in a level attitude to begin with, however, Cirrus recommended procedure from 0-500 feet agl (600 feet agl in G5) is to land straight ahead and deploy CAPS if no other viable option available. Note however there have been successful deployments as low as 444 feet agl in straight and level flight. Cirrus aircraft company report that eighty-five lives have been saved by the use of the CAPS with other lives lost when pilots did not use CAPS where it was subsequently determined should have been.
There are human factors in play as to when a pilot does not use CAPS as a viable option however Cirrus state that pilots are more likely to use CAPS with regular training and when it is included and when considered in the pre take off briefing.
Can you spin a Cirrus?
The Cirrus is not certified for spins as the company states that they prefer to work on spin prevention and alerting than the manoeuvre. If you try to spin a cirrus you may enter an unrecoverable spin requiring the CAPS system activation. This is how the aircraft is legal without being spin recovery certified.
After having an engine failure should you deploy CAPS or force land a Cirrus aircraft?
Cirrus aircraft manuals break the engine failure down into two main scenarios, over a runway, or not over a runway.
If not over a runway Cirrus strongly recommend deploying CAPS.
If over a runway, this is then further broken down into whether gliding distance is available. The caveat being you need to continually assess the situation and if you find that you subsequently are not going to make the runway, CAPS deployment is recommended prior to 400 feet agl (561 feet agl for G5).
If at 2000’ agl and landing is assured, continue to runway. If landing not assured, deploy CAPS.
If at 1000’ agl, continue however the risk of landing short is higher and CAPS should be considered.
Advantages of Cirrus aircraft
· Safety features
· State of the art technology (almost matching airliners!)
· Quality of inclusions
· Performance and range
· Single engine risks reduced by safety solutions
Disadvantages of Cirrus aircraft
· Purchase price
· The false sense of security of the CAPS system which needs to be identified
· The performance of the aircraft needs practise to fly well
FAQs about Cirrus aircraft:
What fuel does Cirrus use?
All piston engine Cirrus models are approved for 94 octane fuels.
The Cirrus Vision Jet uses JETA turbine fuel.
Why does Cirrus have a parachute?
To overcome the thought of only having one engine, Cirrus have innovated the Cirrus airframe parachute system (CAPS) to allow the aircraft to float to the surface in an emergency via a parachute.
How many Cirrus airplanes have crashed?
In a snapshot in 2005, 29 Cirrus aircraft had crashed.
Is Cirrus a safe plane?
Accident statistics on Cirrus aircraft state that it is slightly lower than all other single engine aircraft grouped together however pilots say that the comfort of knowing that the CAPS is available can make it tempting to take more risks. It has been reported that 85 lives have been saved by the CAPS parachute system. It also is reported that the speed and performance of the Cirrus aircraft is better managed with suitable training. A rule of thumb for older more experienced pilots, is the more sophisticated the aircraft, which the Cirrus is, the more you need to deeply understand the systems and features.
What is the Cirrus private jet?
The Cirrus private jet, also known as the ‘personal jet’ is called the Vision Jet. It is a single-engine, up to 7-seat jet.
What is the cheapest private jet?
In the private jet market, the Cirrus Vision Jet is the cheapest in its class.
At first glance, if you had the money and a private pilot licence or better, then a Cirrus is a great option as a time saver. It opens up an envied lifestyle with state-of-the-art technology. An important take away from this review however is to understand that the greater the sophistication, the greater the need for a pilot to deeply understand how the systems work. More experienced pilots often learn this the hard way, so this guide is to help reduce your learning curve and respect the technology. It is certainly a fantastic well-designed machine, and the best outcome for enjoyable Cirrus aircraft ownership is to become your in-house expert at it.
The Cirrus aircraft fleet are classy and sleek head turners and will leave other pilots envying you!