One of the great things Cirrus has done for general aviation is to make things seamless, and familiar, wherever you fly – just as long as you go Cirrus of course!
In late July the author, Paul Southwick, was in Berlin on a writing assignment and decided to pay a visit, on behalf of Aviation Trader readers, to Cirrus Germany, to see if it was a good destination for Aussies wanting to fly in Europe.
Graham Horne of Cirrus Australia gave an introduction to Jan-Peter Fischer, the head of Cirrus Germany and several nearby countries. It was easy to make contact with Jan-Peter and his friendly team by email or phone, as they all speak perfect English.
Cirrus Germany is based just a short drive south of Berlin, about 4 km SSW of Trebbin, at a beautiful “airfield in the woods” called Schönhagen. The airport (EDAZ) has two main runways the longest of which, 07/25, is sealed and 1,510 m long. The other, 12/30, is also sealed, and 700 m long, with a 760 m grass strip along side.
The airfield is uncontrolled but has a large control tower staffed by friendly bi-lingual staff who provide a useful flight information service. There are multiple operators on the field, including helicopters, corporate jet charter, maintenance and many private aircraft. There are also gliders, microlites and non-self launching motor gliders.
Fuel is available from self service bowsers and the field is a favourite for friendly ramp check inspectors, who were in attendance, and courteous.
Cirrus Germany has a large fleet of Cirri available for hire or sale and highly skilled instructors.
As regards local flying procedures, they are similar to Australia or the US, and it is easy to obtain local charts – printed, or on an EFB like AvPlan.
Cirrus Germany also has a maintenance facility serving other countries too – like Poland, from where one of the aircraft in attendance was from. No doubt German engineering and reputation for quality – or doing things properly, counts for a lot.
In cases of a long stay, it is easy for pilots to get a temporary licence based on their Australian ones, but for shorter flights it makes sense – as we were to find on our flight, to take a local instructor. In this case the very experienced Jan-Peter, who also holds jet ratings, obliged.
Hire rates in Germany are a little more than in Australia – but worth the experience. On top of €70 per hour for an instructor, add €560 for a SR22TN G3, €580 for a G5 and €620 for a “fully loaded” G6. Landing fees at Schönhagen are €9.12 per time. The equivalent of GST adds 19.5%.
Interestingly, Jan-Peter reports almost all German Cirrus sales now are top of the line SR22 Turbo equipped GTS models, with FIKI. It seems that if you can afford Cirrus in Germany, you can afford the best. With the turbo version the mountains of Europe become less of a factor.
A clockwise circular flight over Berlin was planned and entered, in a like-new, and beautifully maintained, Cirrus SR22 TN G3 FIKI Perspective, built in 2009, registration D-EZMB. The author would fly from the left hand seat. Before takeoff we refuelled to just over tabs and the pre flight was standard Cirrus, albeit with more attention to the temperatures, given we were in a turbo normalised version.
The flight over Berlin was interesting in a number of respects. First, as it was a bit cloudy and we transited into Class E airspace, we flew most of the trip at just 1,400 feet AGL and 1,000 feet below cloud.
Second, a lot of local knowledge was required as there were narrow flight corridors and multiple reporting reports required for the VFR flights. None of these reporting points were quite so easy from the air.
Third, it was truly VFR, as there were so many historical and contemporary sights being pointed out by Jan-Peter that our eyes were mostly outside the cockpit, with Mr Autopilot doing a lot of the flying. Sites included the now closed, famous Templehof Airport, used in the Berlin Airlift during the Cold War, the long straight stretch of autobahn used as a speed test track for cars, the bridge where east-west prisoner were exchanged, the television tower (or Fernsehturm), and many other airports including Berlin Schoenefeld, which we flew right over the top of, LAX style. There were also two major aircraft engine manufacturing facilities, and many beautiful lakes.
Fourth, there was a lot of other scenic flight VFR traffic, including pesky helicopters, in the way, that we had to navigate around. In this respect the speed of the turbo SR22 came to the fore. The controllers were very good, warning us well in advance of traffic, with bearings and heights, all the time in perfect English.
Fifth, there were a lot of massive wind farms, with gigantic propeller towers reaching up to 800 feet. Jan-Peter made two important points about them – first pilots needs to be very careful when returning to an airfield at low altitude, for landing, not to hit them; and second the necessity of not passing downwind of them, as there can be massive wash generated by these giants.
This last point is important – no matter who the pilot, there is always something to learn when flying with someone else, especially an experienced Cirrus qualified instructor.
Return and Circuits
All too soon we were calling up the uniquely German chart for Schönhagen – all German aerodrome charts tell you exactly how to join. Another great feature of the 1:500,000 charts is that for each airport they give, name, designation, height above mean sea level, frequency, runway length, circuit height, and circuit direction, for example, south.
The author flew three circuits, of improving quality each time. It was tricky finding a two runway airfield so well hidden amongst the widespread greenery, and we used a slightly different technique, including an extra five knots approach speed, required for the (engine) heavier turbo version of the SR22.
Taxiing back to the pumps we chatted with the pilot of the helicopter pilot who we had passed in the air, the ramp inspectors, and then refuelled. We taxied the aircraft over to the large Cirrus maintenance facility, as we had detected a lose right magneto on shut down.
Total flight time was 41 minutes, and the enjoyment factor at least 99/100.
Aviation Trader readers heading to Germany should consider calling into and going for a fly from Schönhagen. The entry will look great in logbooks and be a treasured pilot memory. Don’t forget the camera.
Cirrus Germany’s all English website can be found at https://www.cdaircraft.de/ and Schönhagen airport information (in German or English), with lots of useful downloads at http://www.flugplatz-schoenhagen.aero/en.html
Paul M Southwick is a Melbourne based journalist, communications consultant, and pilot.