Learning to fly in an SR20...Good Idea?

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After 20 years of dreaming about it I have just begun training for
my private a local airport (KSDL) in an SR20. After a mere 6.5
hours, I feel fairly comfortable with most aspects of flight with
the exception of transitioning from final into my flare for
landing. We cross the threshold at ~ 90 kts and holding that
aircraft straight and level while losing enough airspeed to
finally have 3 wheels on the ground seems to not only take a
lifetime but it mentally exhausts you, especially when in the
pattern and its your 4-5th touch and go.

The Cirrus is obviously a sexy aircraft and I resigned myself to
the fact that I am going to pay 2x the cost of a 172 to train in
it. However, objectively speaking, am I making my training
experience much more difficult in this particular aircraft than it
should be? Or, is the Cirrus, while faster, perfectly acceptable
to train in?


-- Edward Tyson, October 25, 2015


According to the POH, the SR20 at max gross weight (3000 lbs.) in the most unfavorable cg stalls at 56 knots. If you are just two people and half tanks the stall speed might be closer to 50 knots. The FAA says that a sensible speed for landing is 1.3 * stall speed, which would be about 65 knots at your likely actual weight. That would be 73 knots if you were in fact at 3000 lbs. (over the max landing weight) and with a forward cg. Cirrus adds a margin to this last number by suggesting an approach speed for landing of 75 knots (I think that it was 70 at one time, but they found that people were striking the tail after getting slow). By crossing the threshold at 90 knots you're carrying 1.44X more kinetic energy than Cirrus anticipated (ratio of airspeeds squared). So it makes sense that the landing distances are corresponding longer than book distances.

http://www.aopa.org/News-and-Video/All-News/2015/November/Pilot/ltl is a recent AOPA article on this subject of landing speed. Cirrus doesn't publish a "best glide" speed in landing configuration but 90 knots is almost certainly much faster, especially given the lack of rear seat passengers. So as you lose airspeed from 90 knots the airplane is becoming more efficient.

The Cirrus is an okay trainer. There are some professionally-oriented flight schools that use it. And if your eventual flying is going to be mostly IFR in a Cirrus then there might be some value in just sticking with the same airplane the whole way through. That said, if you don't have infinite money it might also make sense to find the cheapest reasonable flight school that you can and hammer out a Private in a Piper Warrior or Cessna 172.

-- Philip Greenspun, October 25, 2015

I don't like Cirrus personally. Just not a fan.

However, if you aren't learning to fly to get a job, but because you enjoy flying, then you should learn in a plane you enjoy flying. Either it's worth the money to rent the nicer plane or it's not. That answer shouldn't change based on whether it's a lesson or a multi hundred dollar burger run. People trying to save money by learning in the cheapest rental are just being foolish.

Now, I might object to training in a Cessna 310 or something, but there is nothing ruling out the SR20 IMO. Also IMO, having flown most of the usual suspects, you can't beat a Diamond for training or for pleasure flying.

Keep the shiny side up, and have fun.

-- Eric Warren, October 26, 2015

Everyone doesn't fit in a Diamond. Because of fixed seats and a low panel I cannot physically fly one and I am only 6'3". That goes for the DA 20, DA 40 and Twinstar.

-- Fred Rohlfing, October 28, 2015

That's true, but I'm 6'3" and fit great in all of them, even the original low panel DA40. The 20 is different from the 40 and 42 on who fits, and the DA42 has customizable seats that likely can be made to fit you. (I'm a bit of an expert on this, what parts of you bump what?) OTOH Beech and Cirrus make me uncomfortable.

Only one way to test a plane for comfort. Sit in it. None of them fit everyone, and many make different body types uncomfortable.

Best seat in GA is in a long bodied Mooney, BTW.

Okay, that might just be me. YMMV.

-- Eric Warren, October 29, 2015

My legs will not fit under the panel of any of them. Much of my height is in mu upper thighs. Diamond rep didn't believe it until I tried them all at Sun N Fun. He made some notes for their engineering.

-- Fred Rohlfing, November 13, 2015