Best plane for private pilot licence training...

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I have a friend who wants to get her private pilot license and
intrument rating. She intends to get a Cirrus SR22.

What plane do you recommend she do her training in? When in the
process should she switch to an SR22?

-- Joe

-- Joe Harris, October 17, 2005


I don't think it matters too much what plane she uses for primary training. There is a lot more variation in instructor quality than in trainer airplane quality. The Cessna 172 and the Diamond Katana/DA20 have the best safety records among trainers. If her goal is to own an SR22, perhaps it makes sense to train in a 172 so that she has enough time in that type to be able to rent airplanes when she is traveling or when her plane is down for maintenance.

When should she switch to the SR22? As soon as she is ready to get an instrument rating. If she does that intensively in her own airplane she will have accumulated 40-50 hours of dual and then be very safe to fly on her own.

-- Philip Greenspun, October 17, 2005

(Responding to follow-up question below) American Flyers has a fairly poor reputation for quality of instruction. On the other hand if she can go to school full-time she will be in and out of there with a Private in a short time and the structure might be useful. To find a great instructor you start by asking folks at the local airport who've been flying for 4-5 years (long enough to be able to judge; short enough that they've used instructors who are likely to be instructing currently). Then you fly with two or three of the recommended instructors. Then you pick the one you like the best (personally I like instructors who are great at talking students through maneuvers and don't have to touch the flight controls themselves).

-- Philip Greenspun, October 17, 2005

What do you think is the best approach to finding a good instructor. She does have an American Flyers school near her home....

-- Joe Harris, October 17, 2005

I am getting my private right now, will be doing my solo next week, etc. Very excited. I am now in the market for a plane and have been researching it to death. I too can't decide on which aircraft to go with. A T182T with Garmin1000's or a Cirrus SR22. I feel as though the Cessna is the wiser choice in order to gain hours, then move up to a faster plane at say 500-1000 hours. But then I might be interested in a Twin diamond or a Columbia 400...its a tough decision, basically I want to be safe and conservative, so a 2005/20006 T182T seems the best way to go. But I really want a SR22...Is it wise?

-- jason davila, October 22, 2005

A question for Phillip

Where did you get your facts regarding the DA-20 having the best safety record? Does that refer to the old version (A1 - the Rotax engine) or the new version (C1 - the Continental engine)?

-- Tal Reichert, January 17, 2006

The Diamond Katana

I believe Philip is referring to an article in the April 2001 issue of Aviation Consumer, which examined the safety history of several popular aircraft used as trainers. Their conclusion was that the 172 and the Katana were basically tied in first place for safety, and they were highly recommended (even slightly so over Cherokee/Warriors and 150/152s, based on safety). As of 2001 the Katana had had no fatalities, period. That article is available on if you're a subscriber or you can purchase just that article.

-- Clifton Rybick, December 6, 2006

I totally agree that it's really is all about the instructor. I am very particular about everything. I went through 4 instructors before I asked the busiest instructor in the club to teach me how to fly. I didn't give up on him till he said yes. What a great decision. ( Carl Budnoski from Crew Dog Flying W, NJ) I think the plane is a personal decision. Fly what you feel comfortable in. It makes all the difference in the world to like what your flying. I flew a lot of trainers and love to fly the all the Diamond aircraft. But because the 172 was less expensive and I love the view, I stuck with it. Hope I helped.

-- Matthew Pond, February 17, 2008