Cirrus SR22

some thoughts from an SR20 owner, May 2013

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Most of my knowledge about Cirrus airplanes comes from owning a 2005 SR20-G2, about which I have written an extensive review. This page contains my thoughts on the SR22, especially the G5 model, introduced in 2013.

The G5 SR22

First, there was no G4. That would have been an unlucky number for Cirrus's Chinese owners. The big differences between the G5 and a "classic" mid-2000s Cirrus: The already excellent (for a four-seat airplane) ergonomics and interior usability were carried over from previous models.

What can you cram into the SR22?

On May 21, 2013 I flew N130MH, a Cirrus demonstrator, that has all of the options and lists out for $750,000. The plane has an empty weight of 2482 lbs (the Cirrus Web site says 2260 is the "base weight" so this is more than 200 lbs. of options). With 60 gallons of fuel ("to the tabs") the plane can fly for nearly three hours (burning 18 gph) and still have a 30-minute reserve. That's probably as long as anyone would want to be in a Cirrus but the plane can hold 92 gallons. A full tank of TKS fluid weighs 74 lbs. So in still air you'd be able to put 700 lbs. into the airplane and fly for about 540 nm before landing (180 knots cruise).

Access remains poor for transporting full size bicycles.

How much better is the G1000 than the Avidyne?

If you have a two-pilot crew, the Garmin G1000 is a wonderful system. There are plenty of buttons and screens to keep the co-pilot busy. For a single pilot, however, I prefer the simpler interface of the legacy Avidyne system, which has proven very reliable with the Release 7 software.

The attitude-based Garmin autopilot is very solid and confidence-inspiring. On the other hand, everyone seems pretty happy with the attitude-based Avidyne DFC90, a roughly $13,000 retrofit to older generation Cirruses.

Do you need all of the options?

In theory you can drive a Cirrus out of the factory for $569,900 and enjoy a useful load of 1258 lbs.

The Ice Protection System weighs 63 lbs. and costs $51,900. We need that in the Northeast if we are going anywhere on a schedule for about half the year. It includes a Tanis engine heater, a nice touch. The air conditioner weighs 55 lbs. and costs $21,900. You get to explain to your passengers how you bought an air conditioner for roughly the same price as a new Honda Accord and, not only did you not get a car to go with the A/C but the A/C that you did get only works about half as well as the one in the Honda.

A yaw damper, which should not be necessary in such a short airplane, costs $35,900 and is bundled with an infrared "Enhanced Vision System" that brings up disturbing images of hills, etc. on the MFD. It weighs 9 lbs. and includes a potentially useful second air data computer. But really what are you going to do with the enhanced vision? Most single pilots have enough trouble concentrating on the PFD and/or what's outside. Now you're going to look at the MFD too? Possibly useful if you fly as a two-pilot crew.

Cirrus will sell you an active traffic system and enhanced terrain warning system for $36,900. This comes bundled with approach plates on the MFD ("ChartView"). Maybe you could skip this 15 lb. option and get an iPad or Android tablet.

Systems Integration

Cirrus is the only airplane manufacturer that is even trying to keep pilot workload from skyrocketing with the addition of additional systems. Nonetheless there is a bit of extra work that could be done with this machine. Apparently the "recirc" mode on the A/C can result in CO being sucked into the interior so there is a checklist item to disable it. But the airplane knows whether or not it is flying. The transponder, for example, can switch from standby to ALT automatically. Why then isn't the recirc mode simply disabled at speeds above 30 knots?

Likely Maintenance Cost

Given that the Cirrus is now priced about the same as a used turboprop it is worth looking at maintenance costs. A two-year warranty is included. They will sell you three more years of warranty for $28,000. Figuring annual inspections at $5000 each that's $10,600 per year for maintenance. The aging turboprop will cost at least $25,000 per year.

Interior Noise

If I could change one thing about my SR20 it would be the interior noise level, approximately 93 dBA in the front seats in cruise (recent measurement; has been as high as 94-95 in the past). My 3.5-year-old daughter, asked whether she likes the Cirrus or "Drew's Bonanza" replies "Drew's Bonanza because it is quieter." (about 86-88 dBA in the back and 91 dBA in the front)

Previous SR22s, presumably due to the higher airspeeds, had measured noisier than my SR20, around 95 or 96 dBA. How loud is the new SR22-G5 compared to my friend's ragged-out 2004 SR22? Exactly as noisy:

Measurements were made with a somewhat crummy (but consistent over the years) Radio Shack digital sound level meter.

I have spoken with one Cirrus owner who managed to reduce his SR22's interior noise from "101 to 93 dBA with soundproof techniques. Now with the new [four-blade MT] prop I average 89 in cruise. This was measured with an iPad app which has never been calibrated. The perceived differences are remarkable, though it's still loud."

The Ideal Cirrus

If cost were no object I would buy a new SR22-G5, throw out the prop, put in the prop speed control (if Tamarack ever can make it compatible with the G1000) and MT Prop STCs and some sound proofing, and enjoy a plane that had cost almost as much as a good used Piper Meridian or a ragged-out TBM 700 (both substantially more capable airplanes, albeit with much more expensive annual maintenance required). With cost as a factor I think the best choice is a 2004-2008 SR22 with Avidyne avionics that is nearly ready for an engine/prop overhaul. Add the MT prop and the prop speed control STCs. Add the Avidyne attitude-based autopilot. Add sound proofing. Add the latest engine mount and a factory-new engine. The total cost should be under $300,000.

Don't Forget the SR20!

A used SR20 with a glass Avidyne cockpit is now about $120,000. If your flights mostly fit the following profile: (1) VMC, (2) two adults, (3) 200 n.m. or less, consider the SR20. The extra complexity of the Garmin G1000 is in no way useful for VFR flights. The SR20 has pretty of climb-out power with two adults on board and tab fuel (but don't try gross weight on a hot day!). The speed difference is not significant on a short flight.


Cirrus continues to be the world's only manufacturer of family/personal airplanes that is investing in innovation and improving its already-certified products. I wish that they would put their engineering staff to work on a version of the airplane with substantially reduced interior noise, even if it meant taking a hit to cruise speed and payload.
Text and photos Copyright 2013 Philip Greenspun.