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Canada’s first Cirrus page 2

SR20 pirep by kenneth armstrong • photos by eric dumigan

There are so many instances when CAPS could save lives that a full-length feature article would be needed to describe the potential uses of the system. For instance, other potential life-saving opportunities that come to mind are ditching (when trikes usually turn over as the nosegear touches water), and engine failure during IFR conditions in the mountains when it might be prudent to make a silk descent rather than plow into some “cumulogranite” at 70 knots or so. While deployment of the chute will render the aircraft a write-off, I’d call it cutting one’s losses. Insurance companies really like CAPS because they would rather pay an airframe claim of roughly $200,000 compared to $2,000,000 per passenger life. (Because the aircraft has not been tested for spin recovery, the very detailed and easy-to-read Pilot’s Operating Handbook advises that the CAPS must be deployed if the aircraft departs controlled flight.)

When I first saw the exhaust stacks extending from the streamlined fairings on the fifth factory prototype, I couldn’t believe Cirrus hadn’t trimmed them off for appearances. Company pilot Gary Black (240 pounds and six foot four) informed me they were the correct length for the engine to maximize power. Moreover, the engine also boasts a tuned induction system. These innovations for factory aircraft are but an indication of the lengths to which the company goes to enhance efficiency while reducing operating costs.

Our tour of the factory continuously turned up great ideas that proved that intensive thought went into the design before the composite layups began. The company builds the entire instrument panel/control installation outside the fuselage on a jig, and because the cabin is so large it can easily be installed after fuselage assembly. This system ensures the entire bundle is exactly the same between aircraft and significantly reduces production time. Additionally, access panels are oversized allowing mechanics to comfortably work on all the normally hidden components. Such innovations not only reduce the initial acquisition price but maintenance costs as well.

Climb aboard
I could wax poetic about the exterior beauty of the Cirrus which turns heads and draws crowds everywhere it goes, but the real beauty of this futuristic aircraft is within the cabin. Passengers and pilots alike will be enthralled with the gracious spaciousness, the supportive comfort of the seats and the unexcelled visibility.

Access is gained via steps up onto the wing on both sides and an easy step through very large doors. Your 130 pounds of baggage enters the cabin via a left-side door that is large enough to fit most suitcases.

The front seats are certainly ergonomically perfect for my 5-foot 10-inch frame. Tall Gary Black confirmed that they are even suitable for him as he has flown many lengthy cross-countries. He advised that the Cirrus is one of the few aircraft he can comfortably fit into–and he knows about the importance of comfort better than many as he has logged more than 1,200 hours on type.

Dimensionally, the cabin averages 49 inches in width up front and is also very wide aft. The entire area is approximately 130 inches long from rudder pedals to upper baggage compartment. The CAPS resides behind the baggage area and has an inspection period of once every 10 years. (The deployment system handle is in the roof between the two pilots–behind a protective cover.)

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