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canaero - Canadian aviation history

Canada’s first Cirrus page 3

SR20 pirep by kenneth armstrong • photos by eric dumigan

Pilots will quickly adapt to the single-handed side control yokes, and their chromed shafts show the elevator pitch positions making it easy to trim the aircraft for takeoff. I like the location of the yokes because they are out of the way during a potential crash impact and their position ensures that all occupants can view all of the instrumentation from any position.

There is a trend toward a massive moving map display in the centre of instrument panels–and I love it! However, this multi-function display (MFD) provides much more than GPS data. Specifically, the MFD shows checklists, performance charts, emergency information and a host of additional data that enhance the ability of a pilot to comprehend his or her situational awareness. The display also has the capability to receive uplinked current weather depictions–once the ground-based service becomes available.

The basic aircraft comes with a one-axis autopilot and while that may not seem like much, it is very capable with abilities including roll stabilization, turn command, heading hold and tracking of both GPS and VHF signals.

High flying Cirrus
My evaluation was carried out with Gary Black in CAVOK weather with light winds down Duluth’s runway 09.

Gary primed the injected engine and moments later I discovered one of the very few characteristics I don’t like about the Cirrus–the throttle detent. Because the aircraft uses a “one-control” system for power selection, there is a rather stiff detent in the throttle. This is a bother when changing power regularly, such as during circuits and slow flying practice. Nonetheless, the concept of a single power control is very desirable for safety and ensuring that engine parameters are not exceeded. The company advises it will continue to refine the aircraft based on customer input and is eliminating the detent on future production aircraft.

Other than that, there was nothing on the ground I could fault. Differential braking provided exacting directional control, visibility was excellent and the sound level was quite reasonable. The uncluttered panel provides all of the information very readily for run up, navigation planning and takeoff. With two-thirds fuel on board and 440 pounds of pilots, the aircraft was approximately 150 pounds under gross.

We turned the 200 ponies loose for a measured takeoff and they provided a moderate acceleration resulting in a ground roll of 1,100 at the 65-knot rotation speed (OAT of 15°C). Our initial rate of climb was a respectable, but not awe-inspiring, 900 fpm in the light turbulence created when we Canadians sent some weather south to our neighbours.

The controls were moderately light and responsive and for that matter they remained that way at all the speeds I tested between 60 and 160 knots. For pilots worried about power management when stepping up to a high-performance aircraft, you needn’t be concerned as the engine system automatically senses requirements and the constant speed unit automatically sets the propeller blade angle for optimum performance–it couldn’t be simpler.

Levelling off from our 100-knot cruise/climb, the SR20’s forté emerged as she just kept accelerating. Even at 3,500 feet we were able to produce a true airspeed of 147 knots at 75% power on 43 litres an hour. Flying at the optimum altitude of 6,500 feet would have provided a very respectable 160 knots. My personal favourite for a cross-country would be cruising at 10,000 feet on 53% power while cranking along at 142 knots on only 35 litres an hour for a range of 775 nm. Nonetheless, I will admit most pilots will opt for 160 knots at 6,000 to 8,000 feet for a range of 631 to 641 nm. (All range specifications allow for a reserve of 40 litres of fuel for 45 minutes of cruise at 75% power.)

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