Review of my new airplane, the Cirrus SR20

I’ve posted a review of my new airplane, the Cirrus SR20, at http://philip.greenspun.com/flying/cirrus-sr20

17 Comments

  1. Graham Hughes

    May 26, 2005 @ 9:34 pm

    1

    Having poked around through that site, you seemed very enthralled with the DA40, including up to January of this year. So why did you buy the Cirrus?

  2. Philip Greenspun

    May 27, 2005 @ 2:20 am

    2

    People keep asking me this! I thought I’d answered this. The Cirrus is quieter in the back seat for the dog (he does not wear headsets). The Cirrus has adjustable seat backs and will be more comfortable for long trips. The Cirrus is something new and useful for me to learn if I want to be a CFII. The Cirrus is not the world’s best airplane to hand-fly but I have the helicopters for that…

  3. David Wihl

    May 27, 2005 @ 10:35 am

    3

    For the record, before publishing Philip asked for comments on his SR20 review on a private forum of the Cirrus Owner’s site (http://www.cirruspilots.org). This generated over 70 messages. While Phil has addressed many items, the general consensus is that the review isn’t really ready for publishing, hence the big caveat at the top “This review is a work in progress. Right now it reflects an initial three days of training in the SR20 at the factory and a trip home to Boston from Duluth.” So take the review, as in all reviews, with some grains of salt. I hope V2 will be significantly more accurate and based on something other than trivial time and hearsay.

  4. Philip Greenspun

    May 27, 2005 @ 11:31 am

    4

    Most of the messages on that owner’s (COPA) forum were of the form “There are so many grammatical errors and typos in this article that the author is obviously a pinhead” and “the plane is more gentle in a stall than a Cessna 172″ and “Do you get paid to write? Because if you don’t, we’re not impressed. One’s goal in life should be to write for Flying magazine, et al.”. Only one of the 70 messages actually pointed out a typo for correction so on the whole it would be a stretch to describe the feedback as “constructive.”

    The club is probably one of the bad things about the airplane, actually. The Malibu owner’s club by contrast has a much more cordial discussion forum and every message is someone trying to be useful to another member. I’m not sure why this should be. The Malibu is generally owned by pilots with more experience than the Cirrus.

    David: We’re not trying the SR20 in a court of law. My quoting a neighbor who has 800 hours in his SR22 is not “hearsay”, not is my quoting flight instructors that I’ve flown with for dozens of hours. If I actually had met you face to face and we had flown together and you said something interesting about the airplane I would quote you too. But I can’t quote you saying “the article sucks” or “my pals in COPA thought the article sucked” because that isn’t interesting to another reader.

  5. Bill Dobson

    May 27, 2005 @ 1:41 pm

    5

    RE your response to the comment above:
    “Only one of the 70 messages actually pointed out a typo for correction so on the whole it would be a stretch to describe the feedback as “constructive.”

    Is typographical correction the ONLY THING you wanted the COPA readers to do? As a reviewer and editor for a couple of scientific journals, I must say that grammar and typo correction is NOT what we consider “constructive comments”. We assume the author has the ability to write and will catch his / her own typographical and grammar errors prior to submission. Constructive comments from a reviewer and editor deal with the accuracy, form, and content of the submission. I am a reader of the COPA site and one of those who spent a significant amount of time reading your review. I then spent another large chunk of time composing what I considered a balanced, well thought out set of constructive comments. I find it insulting to find that all you wanted was secretarial help!

    Also, you received many comments on topics such as handling characteristics from pilots who have flown the plane for hundreds more hours than you have and who disagree strongly with your neophyte (less than 30 hours time-in-type by your own admission) skill-level assessment. Not only did you refuse to acknowledge that in your article, you actually added language referencing conversations with vague sources to bolster your opinion. So much for a fair and impartial review.

    A professional assessment — rewrite the entire review and limit your comments to ONLY those aspects of the plane with which you have personal, first-hand knowledge. I.E. Remove all the rumors, 1/2 truths,and hyperbole. You can cut it down to less than 500 words easily that way.

  6. Lanny

    May 27, 2005 @ 5:35 pm

    6

    I am not a pilot, nor any sort of authority on airplanes of any type. What I found most remarkable–even astonishing–about Phil’s review was his lack of emotional investment in his new toy. Perhaps that’s why he was not a good fit for an online Cirrus clique? (I see an us-versus-them orientation in most other online fora, regardless of their subject or the ages of the participants, as long as they’re males. It’s mob behavior of the most entertaining flavor. Reminds me of when I used to work at a large university.)

  7. Joe Anonymous

    May 27, 2005 @ 10:11 pm

    7

    I have substantially less experience than Philip and no time in Cirruses, but as a pilot just getting to that 200-hour mark and looking into all the possible singles to fly and/or buy, I think his preliminary assessment is at worst a refreshing change to the Flying Magazine or AOPA Magazines’ style of unchecked praise of nearly EVERY airplane they review. I mean, we pilots tend to be hopelessly (and wonderfully) fascinated by every concoction of metal, plastic, and glass that takes to the air, but when trying to understand the capabilities of an airplane it is useful to be able to consider potential concerns, as articulated by other pilots–even those that would qualify according to some standards as “hearsay.”

    Bill: Unless you were joking, your comment about Philip’s mentioning what “MOST” of the COPA readers’ had to say was oddly ironic–both in the misinterpration of his light sarcasm and in the contradiction of what you say in the rest of your post. When he says that “most of the comments were of the form . . .” he is trying to point out, that unlike you (one of the few, presumably), most of those who answered did not bother to explain their one-sentence assertions about a given topic, or limited themselves to general disapproval/criticism of his writing mechanics. Now, this is not a published review. It is the first draft of something that will sit on his personal website and will be displayed as his preliminary opinion of a plane posted on the owners’ site.

    I thought his comment on the potential altitude deviations during IMC flying due to the difficulty in noticing a change on the tape and a lack of an autopilot-induced warning was quite interesting. Of course every single one of Phil’s reviews is biased by his personal needs and limited experience, and each pilot needs to come to her own conclusions. Having said that it never hurts to be alerted to some potential pitfalls (and perks as well), so that you know where to look to avoid (or enjoy) them.

    I am sure there are typgraphical or grammatical errors in my post, but guess what, I wrote it in 10 minutes, and I have better things to do with my time than scour back through and fix them, because frankly, that would not change anything.

  8. Ron

    May 28, 2005 @ 4:49 am

    8

    Nice review, Philip. I think you’re a pretty demanding customer. But then, at several hundred thousand bucks, you have a right to be. :) A few thoughts: first, you mentioned that the Cirrus is “virtually never used by flight schools”. My flight school has an SR20 and two SR22s and they are available for rent. The two other schools on my side of the field are getting them as well, AFAIK, if they don’t already have them. Admittedly, we’re a Cirrus Training Center and are authorized to turn out CSIPs as well as provide “factory training”. Regarding the takeoff distance, we routinely fly the SR20 off the short runway at SNA and do so with an intersection departure leaving ~2500 feet of pavement to work with. On landing, wake turbulence often requires using as little as half that distance and it’s never been a problem getting the aircraft stopped. Also, you mentioned that “Overrotation will cause you to strike the tail tie-down on the runway and spend a few thousand dollars on fiberglass repair.” If you leave the tail tie-down installed and strike the tail, it will likely cause serious structural damage. That tie-down ring screws into a bulkhead that is susceptible to damage from a tail strike. Our SR20 was damaged that way. In fact, we continued to fly the plane for a couple of months after the fiberglass repair, not knowing that there was anything wrong. It was only after a Cirrus factory tech was out at our FBO that we learned that there was a hidden airworthiness issue. Since that time, we’ve had the tail tie-down rings removed from all our Cirrus aircraft so that a tail strike will only ding the lower rudder fairing and not cause any structural damage to the fuselage. P.S. Good tip about kneeling on the seats. I didn’t know that!

  9. Matt

    May 28, 2005 @ 8:16 am

    9

    I’m not a pilot…I just read everything you write. :) But I do have to say that, having just read the review, I’m also wondering something along the lines of “…and you BOUGHT it?”. For obvious reasons I’m profoundly unqualified to evaluate the airplane on its objective merits, but upon reading the review it’s hard to see why you willingly parted with that much of your money to acquire a product which you seem, frankly, to not like very much at all.

  10. Dave

    May 28, 2005 @ 8:48 am

    10

    Matt: because there are no better alternatives. Cirrus are meant to be one the most progressive aeroplane manufacturers, so there are few that are further forwards in terms of technological development. Car manufacturers are a pretty slow moving lot too (only legislation makes them improve significantly) but they make plane ones look like they are stuck in the dark ages (where it is often the legislation that holds them back).

    And as for Bill, you dream of having as wide a readership and as much general acclaim for your writing as Philip has had.

  11. Jim Howard

    May 29, 2005 @ 1:57 pm

    11

    I thought the review seemed fair and balanced, especially when you also read the weblog entry about the display failures on the trip home.

    Here is an article about a 1000 nautical mile delivery flight in a Mooney Ovation:

    http://www.allamericanaircraft.com/osb/itemdetails.cfm/ID/101

    It’s not nearly as detailed as Philp’s Cirrus report, but it does give you an idea of Cirrus’s competition in this price class.

  12. Philip Greenspun

    May 29, 2005 @ 7:58 pm

    12

    Lanny: You are surprised that I don’t have an “emotional investment” in a machine? I save what limited emotions that my engineer’s heart can muster for family, friends, and dogs. It doesn’t make sense to fall in love with a machine, especially not one that is at the very bottom end its spectrum in terms of capability.

    Matt: As Dave noted, the Cirrus is a leader among its peers, which is sort of like being a dwarf among midgets. The planes that would make an average person say “Wow, that is a really nice plane” cost $1.2 to $4.5 million right now and burn up a lot of maintenance and/or fuel.

  13. Lanny

    May 30, 2005 @ 2:03 am

    13

    No, Phil, I didn’t mean falling in love with an airplane, I meant being ego-defensive about a seriously-expensive purchase. Real candor is remarkable in any blog review by the new owner of a big-buck, nonessential product. Nearly all such accounts are paragons of insecure self justification. Examples are ubiquitous: cars, audio gear, cameras, computers…no one needs to justify that stuff to others if it makes them happy, but many feel compelled to do so anyway. We do, of course, expect better from you. :)

  14. Albert

    May 30, 2005 @ 4:42 am

    14

    Interestingly, SR20-G2 was recently selected by Lund University School of Aviation (LUSA, http://www.tfhs.lu.se) as their new aicraft for primary flight training. “One of the greatest advantages with the Cirrus SR20 is the resemblance of the future workplace for the student pilots” they wrote in the announcement earlier this year. LUSA is operated by the Swedish government, which means it is essentially free, and caters mainly to Scandinavian Airlines.

  15. Philip Greenspun

    May 30, 2005 @ 11:41 pm

    15

    Folks: I’m just back from a 5.4 hour Hobbs time flight BED-CYQB-BTV-BED and it was about 4 hours of IMC with 2 ILS approaches, one down to 600′ AGL. I’m developing a new appreciation for the SR20. Everything worked flawlessly in the clouds and the plane flew itself quite nicely on the autopilot (except that it didn’t intercept the localizer very well at CYQB; it did not lead the turn hardly at all and blew through the course). Would probably have been safer to be on top of all the clouds in a Malibu but if one is going to be in the clouds hour after hour the SR20 is not a bad place to be. My passenger said “everywhere you want there to be a handhold there is one; they put a lot of thought into this design.”

  16. Jason Borschow

    May 31, 2005 @ 3:18 am

    16

    Speaking of aircraft reviews and Phil’s favorite/dream single: http://www.avweb.com/news/usedacft/182792-1.html . . .the Malibu/Mirage

  17. Don Shade

    June 1, 2005 @ 1:42 pm

    17

    I’m a 1,000-hour VFR pilot and five-year owner of a 1964 Beechcraft Debonair–poor man’s Bonanza. I was surprised to learn that my plane, at $79,000, performs similarly to the Cirrus (155 knot cruise, and trades take-off performance for cruise performance), carries the same weight (about 500 lbs. with full fuel) but has a longer range with 72 gallons of usable fuel burned at 13 gal/hour. Nevertheless, I would still love to own a new Cirrus if my wife would let me sell the house in Boulder, CO and downsize to a double-wide in MS.

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