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Cirrus SR20Cirrus SR20


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.

SR20- Handling and Performance
The SR20 has a very solid, stable feel to it in flight. At slow speeds, the unusual leading edge cuff comes into play to prevent the aircraft from easily entering a spin. Cirrus certified the SR20 in the "spin resistant" category, thanks to the cuff. The cuff causes the air flowing over the ailerons to remain "attached" to the wing at very high angles of attack. As a result, the ailerons remain effective even after the inboard portions of the wing have stalled. Because of this, you can easily fly the airplane, feet on the floor, despite much of the wing's being stalled. You'll be descending at several hundred feet per minute, but with complete aileron control. The intent is to prevent the common base-to-final-turn stall-spin accident by allowing the pilot to simply roll wings-level even in a stall. There is plenty of natural buffeting to alert even the most distracted pilot that the aircraft is entering a stall. It's a good system and a significant safety enhancement.

Part of the reason for the SR20's stellar cruise speeds on such a small, efficient engine is the composite fuselage. The fiberglass material allowed the designers to carefully shape the fuselage to be aerodynamically efficient. In the beginning, the airplane was to be all composite, but Cirrus engineers discovered fairly early in the process that it was difficult to make strong and stiff flight control surfaces out of fiberglass because of the tight spaces inside, particularly at the trailing edges. As a result, the SR20 has aluminum ailerons, flaps, rudder, and elevator.

The engine itself delivers other efficiencies. The Continental IO-360-ES utilizes both tuned induction and tuned exhaust to efficiently extract every horsepower while keeping fuel flows down. A tuned induction system delivers an equal amount of air at the same velocity to each cylinder, allowing efficient and consistent combustion from cylinder to cylinder. A tuned exhaust system, evidenced by the long parallel stacks along the belly, decreases exhaust back pressures, allowing the engine to efficiently deliver rated horsepower with minimal fuel burn.

Overall, the SR20 combines a unique blend of tried-and-true systems married to many advances in safety and avionics, all bundled into a robust and efficient airframe.

See original articles:
Fleet First
Cirrus SR22-GTS

Performance Summary

The Cirrus SR20 is a four-place, low wing, single-engine monoplane with fixed landing gear. The aircraft is constructed of primarily composite materials.
This airplane is certificated in the normal. In the normal category all aerobatic maneuvers are prohibited. The aircraft is approved for day and night VFR/IFR when equipped in accordance with F.A.R. 91 or F.A.R. 135.

The engine is a Continental Model IO-360-ES and is rated at 200 hp at 2700 RPM. It is a six cylinder direct drive, normally aspirated, air-cooled, horizontally opposed, fuel injected engine.

A 56-gallon usable wet-wing fuel storage system provides fuel for engine operation. The airplane may be serviced to a reduced capacity to permit heavier cabin loadings. This is accomplished by filling each tank to a tab visible below the fuel filler. The system consists of vented integral fuel tanks and a fuel collector/sump in each wing, a three-position selector valve, an electric boost pump, and an engine-driven fuel pump. Fuel is gravity fed from each tank to the associated collector sumps where the engine-driven fuel pump draws fuel through a filter and selector valve to pressure feed the engine fuel injection system. The electric boost pump is provided for engine priming and vapor suppression.
The airplane is equipped with a two-alternator, two-battery, 28-volt direct current electrical system designed to reduce the risk of electrical system faults. Alternator 1 is a belt-driven, internally rectified, 75-amp alternator mounted on the right front of the engine and is regulated to 28 volts. Alternator 2 is a gear-driven, internally rectified, 20-amp alternator mounted on the accessory drive at the rear of the engine and is regulated to 28.75 volts. The output from Alternator 1 is connected to the Main Distribution Bus. The output from Alternator 2 is connected to the Essential Distribution Bus. Both alternators are self-exciting (not self-starting), and require battery voltage for field excitation in order to start up.


  2001 Cirrus SR20
Model Continental IO-360-ES
No. Cylinders 6
Displacement 360 cu. in.
HP 200
Carbureted Or Fuel Injected Fuel Injected
Fixed Pitch/ Constant Speed Propeller Constant Speed/ 2 or 3 blades
Fuel Capacity 60.5 gallons
Min. Octane Fuel 100
Avg. Fuel Burn at 75% power in standard conditions per hour 11.6 gallons
Weights and Capacities:  
Takeoff/Landing Weight Normal Category 3000/2900 lbs.
Takeoff/Landing Weight Utility Category N/A
Standard Empty Weight 2050 lbs.
Max. Useful Load Normal Category 950 lbs.
Max. Useful Load Utility Category N/A
Baggage Capacity 130 lbs.
Oil Capacity 8 quarts
Do Not Exceed Speed 200 KCAS
Max. Structural Cruising Speed 165 KCAS
Stall Speed Clean 65 KIAS
Stall Speed Landing Configuration 56 KIAS
Climb Best Rate 828 FPM
Wing Loading 22.2 lbs./sq. ft.
Power Loading 15.0 lbs./hp
Service Ceiling 17,500 ft.