A beginner jet pilot owns a Cirrus SF50 G2 and this report is based on two flights with him.
Best news first: as on the SR22, the air conditioning is awesome! This is the ultimate machine for Florida and Texas.
The visibility is great from the front and back seats, much better than in a typical bizjet. The windows are huge and the panel is compact. Cirrus media photo:
On the other hand, it is almost impossible to take pictures out of the front with an iPhone due to the fact that the autofocus system gets confused by a coating inside the windows and thinks that the subject (at infinity) is just a few inches away. Here’s the multi-function display, one of two big screens. See if you can find, amidst the clutter, how much fuel is left!
Do you care about the amps going into each battery during normal operations in which both generators are running smoothly? How about fuel? Do you care how many gallons are in each tank? If you said “I care the same about battery amps and fuel” then the Garmin G3000 is the system for you! These items are presented at the same size in the same color with the same prominence.
The automation philosophy is like nothing one would ever find outside of aviation. For example, the probe heat is limited to 5 minutes on the ground. The aircraft knows whether it is flying and should be able to guess whether it is taxiing out to fly. Why can’t the probe heat come on automatically, maybe with an annunciator, when the airplane is getting close to the runway? And then turn itself off after landing?
The airplane is ripe for Asiana 214-style confusion about who is responsible for doing what. There is an autopilot. There is an autothrottle (confusion about which was a prime cause of the Asiana 214 crash). The panel looks more or less the same, however, in the following states: (1) pilot is doing everything, (2) pilot is being given a flight director suggestion about aircraft attitude, (3) autopilot is flying, but pilot is responsible for setting engine power, (4) autopilot is flying and the magic computer systems are responsible for setting engine power. There are, of course, subtle text and graphic cues to distinguish these four modes, but they’re not strong. In the picture above, for example, we were on autothrottle, but the percent thrust meter doesn’t say anything about that.
If I were going to design a similar system, I would make the stuff for which the computer was responsible turn gray (even the PFD would mostly be gray during autopilot ops!). The fuel state would be prominently displayed while the normal-operation engine/electrical gauges would be subdued/hidden.
Vibration is minimal compared to a piston-powered aircraft or a turboprop. Noise isn’t so bad in the front with noise-canceling headsets, but our rear passenger, a Cirrus SR22 renter, said that he was “surprised” as how noisy it was sitting right under the engine.
The slide-o-rama seats are awesome. If you’re used to yoga-class-for-the-old-and-fat, as in the PC-12 and all of the bizjets with pedestals, you’ll appreciate that the Vision Jet is by far the easiest jet for getting in and out of the pilot seats.
Rumor has it that a slightly heavier long-range version of the Vision Jet is in the works. At that point it is tough to understand why someone would want to buy a TBM (longer range, similar speed and altitude capability; higher price).