Unless you are brand-new to general aviation or have been under a rock for the past decade, you know by now the Cirrus Design story. Wisconsin brothers Dale and Alan Klapmeier started building kit airplanes, but soon recognized that the real market was for a new-generation mainstream-certificated airplane. In 1995, they announced, with much fanfare, that they were going to produce just such an airplane. The airframe would be composite and incorporate the latest thinking in aerodynamics and survivability. Unusual doors that lift upward and forward (actually, in the mock-up they were sliding doors like your minivan has), opening to a wide and comfortable cabin. The plan was to incorporate the latest avionics and engine management systems to reduce pilot workload and improve situational awareness. And deliver it all at a higher "value" than was then available in the market.
At first, Cirrus planned to offer a unique rocket-powered parachute as an option. Later, the Klapmeiers decided that the parachute would be standard equipment. The parachute is designed to lower the aircraft to the ground in such a way that those inside would survive. However, the 1,800-foot-per-minute descent rate beneath the deployed parachute will most likely damage or destroy the aircraft upon impact in the worst case scenario. Still, as a last-ditch effort in the event of a loss of control, it's not a bad safety net. “In 2002, the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System™ made aviation history with the first safe landing by a private pilot after deploying the parachute.” (Cirrus Design Corp.)
Development and certification of the parachute system took many months and many tests. Eventually, the system, dubbed CAPS, for Cirrus Airframe Parachute System, earned FAA approval.
Hidden in an area in the aft fuselage, the parachute and its rocket, along with the extra structure to accommodate the system, weigh less than 80 pounds. A pull forward and down on the handle ignites the rocket motor and propels it out through the skin of the aircraft, pulling the parachute with it. Wide straps buried just below the composite exterior skin of the fuselage, running beneath the door openings, are ripped free by the force. In the end, the fuselage is suspended by the straps, which are attached to the firewall and the aft cabin. The system requires almost no maintenance, just an inspection and repacking of the chute every 10 years and perhaps replacement of the rocket motor.
The Klapmeiers believe that the aircrafts’ avionics and navigation systems will improve situational awareness. On Cirrus Aircraft, the Avidyne Multi Function Display has always been standard. Later models are equipped with the Avidyne Entegra Integrated Flight Deck, providing the pilot with a new level of situational awareness and safety.
SR22- Handling and Performance
To go faster or farther than a similarly shaped airplane, yours must either be smaller or it must have more power. Period. With that in mind, it is no wonder that the Cirrus SR22, with its 310-horsepower engine, outperforms its 200-hp little brother, the SR20, in every way. Horsepower is an amazing thing, and in this case it transforms the perky Cirrus into a real get-up-and-go traveling machine.
At cruise settings, the horsepower also makes a difference. The increase from the SR20's 160-knot cruise speed at 75-percent power to the SR22's 181 knots is impressive, but you might ask whether the additional fuel burn is worth it. If your budget can stand it, yes, it is worth it for those who plan to travel long distances. Even if you're not flying in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, the excess horsepower available for improved climb is something you can use to your advantage on every flight. Getting to altitude more quickly and to higher altitudes altogether allow you to fly more efficiently.
The SR22 also carries a longer wing, about three feet longer. The greater span improves the climb rate, decreases stall speed, and gives the SR22 really nice landing characteristics. I found the SR22 to be easier to land than the SR20, partly because it seems more stable on approach, but mostly because the larger wing provides more opportunity in ground effect to finesse the landing.
The SR22 maintains the unusual leading-edge cuff on the outboard sections of the wing that debuted on the SR20. The cuff helps direct the airflow over the ailerons at high angles of attack, allowing the pilot to maintain roll control with the ailerons at very slow speeds. The devices make the Cirrus airplanes docile in stalls and virtually impossible to spin. Cirrus test flights show that both airplanes behave conventionally in spins, but, like most high-performance airplanes, neither is approved for the maneuver.
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Cirrus SR22: Power Broker