1st Generation SR 20 --- yes or no?

I appreciate all the feedback I got from people regarding airspeeds and performance. The next question I have is if there are any important reasons not to buy a 1st generation 20. I do not like all glass and the idea of having steam gauges in front me with a good MFD is actually more preferable to me.

There are a lot of 1st gens out there for a great price and I have seen several with low engine times (mandatory for my purchase).

Would any of you mind chiming in?

Please understand I am not here looking to buy anyone’s plane; just to research this model cirrus.

Thank you!!!

Just be careful about “low engine times.” It is not good if an airplane has been idle or infrequently flown. It’s about the worst thing you can do for an engine or airplane. An airplane that has not consistently flown at least 50-60 hours a year should be a red flag.


Thank you so much for your response and concerns. For anyone else who might be thoughtful enough to answer my question, kindly try to answer just the question. I have been doing this a very long time and while I certainly appreciate everyone’s feedback on issues outside the scope of my question, I don’t want to be wasting your time.



They are good planes but you need to go in with your eyes open. Cirrus was on a learning curve back then and lots of things are better in today’s planes than back then. No vacuum pumps now. All electric is better but the early MCUs were a problem. But the plane flies fine and reason not to own one.

I’ve a 2003 SR-20 and have been a COPA member (or hovering) since before I purchased it. I cannot recall anything especially notable about the G1 other than perhaps:

  1. doors - G2s had small issues, IIRC
  2. MCU - the Lamar, 110 and 120 are not, if I understand it right, as good as the 140 (?) that came later

Hi Sanjay. Thanks for your response. I have no idea what you are referring to in #2. Can you splain? :smiley:



Your question could use some clarification. Hard to guess which reasons you consider outside the scope of the question “are there any reasons?”

An early '20, if original, will have an Arnav MFD, which is no longer supported. May temper your definition of “good” depending on what you plan is to replace it when it fails. Then again, there are some that are still ticking at 15 years.

While I don’t have a 20, I do have a G1 SR22 that I’ve had since new. It was originally steam gauge and ARNAV MFD equipped. The steam gauges were updated to Aspens, but the ARNAV is still, to use Gordon’s word, ticking.

I think the answer to your question is that a well maintained G1 is an excellent value. That’s especially true if you prefer steam gauges. The G1s are lighter than the newer versions and that translates to a higher useful load. And at least in the 22s the G1s are marginally faster than the newer ones. Whether that’s the case with the 20s I don’t know.

You did specify that while you liked steam gauges you wanted a good MFD in front of you. In that case I would advise against buying a plane with the original ARNAV. That MFD is pretty much useless - I use mine for engine monitoring only. A substantial number of 20s have been upgraded to early Avidyne units and I would look for one of those.

I know of no specific reason to avoid a G1, and G1s probably provide more bang for the buck than any other Cirrus model.

ah yes, the problem with communicating with text. I just want to know if there are any bad flaws with the first gen that were fixed in the 2nd and 3rd generation models that would or should dissuade someone from purchasing a 20.

The Cessna 172N model is a notorious piece of junk (the engine), but to someone who doesn’t know, that would be exactly what they would want to know…

That’s the type of info I’m looking for. Sorry for the confusion… (Also directed to Gordon - sorry if my question was not clear)

You might find Jamie Steel’s summary of Cirrus model changes useful. Located here:


My feeling is that one’s perception of “flaws” and “fixes” and “valuable improvements” is highly personal. One man’s flaw is another man’s feature.

As noted, there has been continuous change. That change will be reflected in market values. A better approach for you might be to observe the difference in typical asking prices for the various vintages and option packages and then – when it is not obvious – ask why that difference exists?

Got it. Others have already chimed in with some good information. The G1s don’t have a serious flaw that rules them out categorically. Later gens have added features…or flaws…eye of the beholder and all that.

One area where the G1 20 trumps every other Cirrus in existence, the Lamar MCU is rock solid - so your electrical system is superior to every other aircraft in existence.

I actually believed otherwise, but Alex knows more about this than I do. So, scratch what I said about Lamar.

G1 -20s can be found with a number of different MCUs. My experience, along with some others’, has been that model 110 and 120 MCUs can be flaky. But I wouldn’t call it a disqualifying condition.

There are also SR-20s that are not all-electric. Those have a vacuum system. I actually deferred my original (ca. Nov 2002) delivery by three months until they switched production to all-electric.

Others have mentioned the Arnav-equipped Cirri. Those I’d avoid simply because the component is not supported.

The ARNAV may not be supported but there are enough EE’s out there who don’t really care and repair them anyway. It’s not rocket science doing surgery on a 25 year old 486.

I’ve got a 2001 SR-20, and it works just fine for me. I regularly commute from Chicago to Phoenix and it does the job. Performance can be an issue in the mountain west, but I expect you have already made your decision there.

A few random thoughts:

  • I’ve got conventional gauges for flight instruments, and I prefer them (Can you say “reliable” boys and girls?) A quick look at all the bitching about Avidyne PFDs might help your thinking there.

  • Some look down their nose at vacuum systems, I’ve got an engine driven pump with an electrical back-up driving my attitude indicator. I like the idea of having a vacuum AI in the event of an electrical failure. (BTW, either the main or the secondary alternator will handle the entire electrical load in my 20 - no load shedding procedure for me.) I’ve had the mechanical pump fail twice in flight - I know this happened because a little yellow light on the panel lit up and told me so - otherwise nothing. (Do keep an eye on the vacuum manifold if you get one of these birds.)

  • I’ve got the original Llamar MCU (Master Control Unit, through which most of the electrical systems run) and it has been running just fine for me.

  • Very early models simply had a tie-down ring on the tail. Until pilots got used to the sight picture from the lower instrument panel, there was a tendency toward tail strikes. The tie-down offered no protection whatever - so keep a lookout for tail damage in early G1’s. Nearly all models have been updated to the rubber bumper, which offers slight protection, and I think most of us land 'em better now.

  • There were three different avionics packages offered in the early models, and this will effect the value greatly. Be sure you pick the one you need.

  • Others have mentioned the old Arnav MFD, which is now longer supported. (Meaning you can’t get it repaired, nor can you update the airspace data.) I would look for an Avidyne MFD, although I’m no Avidyne fan. Less obvious is the fact that the early top-tier avionics package included an S-Tec 55 auto-pilot. This is NOT the same as the look-alike 55X auto-pilot. The old analogue 55 is no longer supported, so look for an updated 55X.

  • Still on the subject of avionics, you will see much more variety in the early G1, both because of the different packages offered, and updates along the way.

  • I’ll agree with others who suggest caution on low-time engines, unless it’s low-time because it’s been overhauled already.

  • Early G1 models will be coming up for a second CAPS repack in four or five years, and that job will be noticeably more expensive than a G2 model. If you have a single battery system (like mine) it will be more expensive still. Keep that in mind for your budget.

To answer your question, no - there is no reason to avoid a G1. I like my 2001 G1. It flies just as well, maybe better, than a G2 and those “older” systems are very reliable and cheaper to operate. Just be sure you know what you are looking at, and keep the CAPS repack in mind if you intend to keep the plane for a while. Many people get in game with a 20, and quickly upgrade to a 22. If that is your plan, a G1 might do you very well.

Plus you can always duct tape an iPad onto the Arnav screen and you’re all set.

Awesome response. I really appreciate that

My 2003 Had the premium (or whatever they called it) avionics package with the Avydine MGD and the Stec 55X autopilot. Does a great job!
I would push for that too.
Have a solid prebuy inspection as the older the plane the pore squawks and its not always easy which to deal with or reject. I haven’t tríed them but lots of us have a great experience with Savvy