Cirrus, just announced a record 2016, during which they delivered 317 units, including three SF50 jets. There are now 6,500 SR series aircraft flying in over 60 countries.
Following Aviation Trader’s “desk analysis” of Cirrus’ G6 series announcement in January, we wanted to know if the SR22 G6 could “fly the talk.” Of special interest was the Garmin based Cirrus Perspective™ avionics, with the “Home” button and QWERTY keyboard. We knew that there would likely be other hidden gems in the G6 that would only become apparent on closer examination and flight.
Graham Horne, Head of Cirrus Australia, kindly invited Aviation Trader to join him in the front seat of a red and silver, carbon edition, SR22 G6 GTS model, still sporting its US registration of N767SR, for a flight from the Gold Coast airport to Caloundra airfield and back.
We were to pay a visit to Cirrus Sunshine Coast business owner Ross Harrison, and Marketing & Sales Manager, Rebecca Penny. In their hanger was N436RP, a Cirrus SR22 G6 Australis Premium, in “solar yellow,” or gold. The two Cirri have just been flown in from the US, especially for the Avalon Air Show, and we got a sneak peek. Joining us was for the trip was interesting back seat passenger, Jeff Johnson, from Knoxville, Director of Global Events for Cirrus – here to oversee the Cirrus presence at Avalon.
The first, much anticipated, new SR20 G6 for Australia, with its 215hp four-cylinder Lycoming IO-390-C3B6, will be delivered in April this year, and we will flight test it then.
It’s one thing to read well written press releases, or watch beautifully produced promotional videos, but quite another to see, test and experience something for yourself.
So here’s our assessment of the new Cirrus SR22 G6 – which we flew VFR one way and IFR the other. It can be summed up in one simple word. That word is: “ALLURING,” meaning “powerfully and mysteriously attractive or fascinating; seductive.”
Here’s why: previously, pilots have marvelled at the external beauty of the Cirrus design, felt comfortable in the interior, and maybe even enjoyed playing with the avionics. But the new Cirrus Perspective+™ avionics generate a DICHOTOMY. They are so gorgeous to look at, you can’t and don’t want to take your eyes of them, but they are also so crystal clear, efficient and quick, you don’t actually need to look at them for very long at all.
When Cirrus pilots’ eyes are not glued to the avionics, the new high quality leather interior is as good looking and comfortable as the very best Italian (sports car) and the embedded wing tip lights something they will want to date and show off to the world, every night.
Designed by Spectra™ and taking learnings from high performance luxury cars, the ultra-high performance LEDs and dual-strobes will make Cirri hard to miss. What Cirrus calls “pulsing wig-wag” automatically operates above 300’ AGL. On the ground the plane floods the surface with light, and it is said the wing-tip landing lights are more than enough on their own, without the cowl based light under the propeller.
All this lighting is a bit of a skite, as Aussies and Kiwis would say – but in a safety kind of way, so that’s OK.
In its promotional video Cirrus describes the latest avionics on the G6’s as not an enhancement, but rather a new platform, upon which future developments will be based. These words are true and their significance really hits home the moment the system fires up.
Everything is near instantaneous and the information is clear beyond belief. It’s like someone has given you a new pair of glasses. The clarity comes from five things: first the very high definition screens; second the new font – both style and size; thirdly clever set out and highlighting – be it backing, flashing, colour or a combination thereof; fourthly the greatly increased and intuitive built in functionality – across the whole system; and lastly the super-fast computer chips driving the system.
The result is a system pilots won’t be able to take their eyes off, but will actually need less time to use. For example, leaning to peak now takes about a quarter of the time. A little blue line appears on the fuel flow meter. You simply set your power, at say 75%, and pull back the mixture control until it lines up with the blue line, giving perfect lean of peak running, at 65%, every time.
Another feature which we loved, and will keep pilots’ eyes looking outside, was the automatic activation and deactivation of the yaw damper at 200 feet AGL. A yaw damper is one of those things that once pilots have felt it in action, they, or indeed their passengers, who appreciate the comfort, cannot do without. Before G6, flipping the YD switch on or off was a checklist item, but no more, thanks to Cirrus. That switch has simply disappeared. That’s yet another safety tick.
We did the weight and balance calculations in the aircraft, on the MDF, in about twenty seconds. It’s a marvel how Cirrus has moved this important check from a chore to an “easy as.”
Pilots will quickly adjust to the QWERTY keyboard. Even better are the numbers along the top of the communications console, perfectly placed for entering as ATC calls out new frequencies or transponder codes. And the always live “comms” button gets rid of a frustration in earlier models of having to push it all the time.
The graphical presentation of the instrument approach back into Gold Coast, and the way the aircraft flew it so seamlessly, was a marvel. It creates such situational awareness and safety. It is now so good that VFR pilots who might previously have baulked or shied away from doing an instrument rating, will say “wow, that looks great, and not as hard or technical as I imagined, I might give it a go.” Again that’s good for safety. The improved IFR capability is timely too with the release of new IFR minimums at many Australian airports –provided pilots have the right equipment of course.
There are many other gems in the G6, too many to cover here. Things like enhanced display options on the PDF, flight plan transfers back and forth between iPad and system, Aussie chart overlays (coming soon), and wireless system updates.
Aviation Trader’s recommendation is for pilots to get along to the Cirrus stand at the Avalon Air Show. If you can’t make it to Avalon, look for one of the aircraft as they move around the country. You will not be disappointed.
The SR22 GTS can certainly fly the talk. It exceeds the advertising hype. Both existing and new Cirrus pilots, together with their happy passengers, are bound to be drawn more and more to this alluring and beautiful market leader. Expect to see a quantum leap in sales again in 2017. Cirrus has again made a very good aircraft even better. It seems they never sleep!
About the Author
Paul M Southwick is a Melbourne based journalist, communications consultant and pilot.