Making better pro pilots faster

New TRAC Trainer from Cirrus

A landing gear handle looks wholly out of place on a fixed-gear Cirrus SR20—but it’s there for a very good reason.

  • The Cirrus TRAC SR20 trainer. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • The Cirrus TRAC SR20 boasts a highly integrated avionics suite not often seen in training aircraft. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • Flight instructors can simulate landing gear failures to familiarize students with emergency procedures of aircraft they'll likely fly as professionals. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • Cirrus TRAC derives its name from its training aircraft mission. Photo by Mike Collins.

“This airplane’s mission is to prepare flight students for careers as professional pilots,” Ivy McIver, Cirrus Aircraft’s director for the SR product line, said of the company’s TRAC training aircraft. “This puts landing gear into their flow from the very beginning, and it helps prepare them for the larger, faster airplanes they’re likely to fly next.”

In addition to the landing gear lever with position lights that the instructor can slyly fail at the touch of a hidden button, TRAC aircraft come with a radio transmit switch in the back so that student observers can be involved in air traffic control communications; durable seat material that doesn’t scuff and is easy to clean; a four-cylinder, 215-horsepower Lycoming IO-390 engine; analog backup instruments; and external decals with text showing preflight inspection items such as oil quantity, tire pressure, and static source locations.

As with other Cirrus models, the TRAC airplanes contain safety equipment such as airframe parachutes and airbag seatbelts.

“We have a lot of years in the flight training world,” McIver said. “We took feedback from the universities, airline training departments, and flight schools and incorporated their priorities in TRAC aircraft. We want to dispel the myth in the market that we only sell million-dollar luxury airplanes.”

TRAC SR20s have a base price of $410,000. They will compete with the Piper Aircraft Pilot 100i instrument trainer, which has a list price of $285,000. Cirrus also offers more powerful SR22 and SR22T TRAC versions.

Lufthansa, Emirates, and Austrian airlines all use Cirrus SR20s in their ab initio pilot training programs, as do many U.S. college aviation programs. The U.S. Air Force and French navy also use them for pilot screening.

TRAC instrument panels contain two-screen, Garmin Perspective glass displays with a keyboard flight management system designed to get flight students accustomed to highly integrated avionics suites early in their training.

“The global demand for pilots is surging and the pilot supply is shrinking,” McIver said. “The FMS and its integration with the flight deck and automation are things you see in bigger aircraft. This airplane is designed to help students transition to bigger aircraft more quickly.”

Dave Hirschman

Dave Hirschman

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.
Topics: Aircraft, Training and Safety, Career

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