Published by Nicholas Combes
Sleek, sexy, sporty.
No – not me. Just a few generic words to describe Cirrus’ impressive contribution to the modernisation of light aircraft.
But it is more than just a plane. The SR22 GTS is like a sports car with all the added extras. For just over half a million dollars you can buy this GTS version, which comes with a list of amenities that wouldn’t look out of place in an auto dealers brochure,
- Airbag Seatbelts (Front Seats)
- Single Movement Power Lever
- Advanced Wheel Fairings
- High Performance Brakes
- Tubeless Tires
- Surface Illumination Lights
- Spectra™ Wingtip Lighting
- 60/40 FlexSeating™ – Seats up to 5
- USB Power Ports
- Standard Leather Interior
- Tinted Windows
Now, in the brokering world, it is not uncommon to be able to fly on empty aircraft as they position for your clients. This week I was fortunate enough to hitch a ride from Ft. Lauderale Executive (FXE) up to Palm Beach International (PBI), with Tampa Bay Aviation’s brand new Cirrus SR22 GTS.
Admittedly I assumed this was just going to be another general aviation type flight.
The first thing I noticed were the Lamborghini style doors. Whether they had merely been left open to keep the cockpit cool or not, it stirred that same excitement you feel when a hyper car passes you on the street.
A few selfies later and I was harnessed in with my pilot Josh beside me.
The Cirrus Perspective+™ by Garmin® Cockpit is seriously simplistic. Two 10” LCD screens mean no more clutter of analogue instruments. Flashed up they prove just how efficient the team over at Garmin have managed the information.
The Continental IO-550-N 310 HP started when commanded. No splutter and stall like the older generation engines. We immediately turned the air conditioning on as it was quickly becoming a furnace in there thanks to that South Florida sun. A few words with FXE tower, a flash of the taxi light and we were rolling.
It was at this point that my pilot offered for me to fly it. Even though I have infinite hours playing flight sim (don’t hate – all avgeeks understand this) and around a dozen hours flying right seat, I am NOT a pilot. My pilot reassured me that with having over 3000 hours of students trying to kill him, he was quite comfortable with me at the controls.
Taxiing wasn’t too strenuous. The Cirrus has differential brakes, which means that a tap of the right or left brake kept you on center line.
At the runway threshold we came alongside a DA-20 and its student doing an engine run up (revving the engine to get the oils up to temperature). The Cirrus rides higher on the ground than most light aircraft. This gave us a height advantage when taxiing, and it wouldn’t be right for me not to mention that I felt a little smug looking down on this student (who is far more qualified than me) and his inferior aircraft.
The take-off was straight forward … The SR22’s large and simplistic throttle meant I didn’t have to fumble around, whilst focusing on not veering off of the runway. The climb out was when the aircraft’s power really could be felt. In an instant (almost) I was leveling off at 1000ft with downtown Ft. Lauderdale just off the nose.
Yaw damper on to stop the natural swaying of the aircraft. There is no trim wheel at your feet or coffee grinder tab on the roof. The trim was a humble button on the yoke which made level flight easy.
At 180kts (this is quick) I pulled the power back and was already turning north to follow the coastline. Two buttons later and the plane was flying itself thanks to the GFC 700 autopilot. It should be noted that most general aviation aircraft cruise at around 80-100kts.
Another few photo opportunities to be had and the auto pilot was turning us west to join a right base approach into PBI.
Descent, approach, flaps and an average landing later, we were on the ground and marshalled into Atlantic Aviation. Even though dominated by the ultra-long range private jets, the SR22 did not look out of place. If the heavy jets are a rich persons’ RV, the SR22 is the sports car they tow behind it.
At $450 per hour, the SR22 is seriously cost effective for charter. For comparison a King Air turbo prop is around $1200 and a light jet over $2000. The well designed leather interior still gives it that wow factor that private jet users expect.
For the businessman that needs to cover relatively short distances quickly and cost effectively, this is the aircraft for you.