Another thread on SR20 purchase

I’m contemplating buying a used SR20 some time this year. I have searched as best as I could old posts on this forum on this very topic. Of course there have been lots of informative discussions on the SR20 but I still wonder if any of you would be able to give me some advice for my particular case. A bit of a context…

Pilot: currently student pilot, hoping to get PPL this summer and planning to go straight to instrument training. Mid 30s, physician, short, marathon runner, road cyclist, motorcycle rider, very safety conscious (full gear when riding Ninja).

Mission: IFR training, short 1-3 day vacation trips starting from KPAO, hoping one day to fly to all states except Hawaii. Expecting one passenger for most trips, sometimes with young kids. Unclear how many hours per month, perhaps 5-10 hours.

Budget: low-mid 100,000s for purchase, low 20K for annual operations; of course the lower the better.

Other airplanes being considered: Archer II, DA-40 (I’m doing training in PA-28s). High-wings are out.

Important factors: safety, safety, safety with a very low-time pilot who will likely make lots of mistakes, mistakes that he can’t even predict.

Not important factors: speed, comfort, ramp appeal, glass cockpit (I can endure lots of pain, e.g. last few miles of a marathon or last few miles of a 7000-ft climb on my road bike. And I value time just being in the air, not distance covered.)

Rental options available at local airport: SR20 ($180-$190/hr), DA-40 ($165/hr), Archer III ($138/hr).

I guess the economic-based answer is to rent. But the emotional benefit of owning a plane is also significant. If you were in my shoes and wanted to buy, not rent, would you
(a) buy an Archer II because it’s cheaper than other options and does this mission well. It’s forgiving, and the same tough weather conditions that ground the Archer also ground the fancier composite aircraft. DA-40 and SR20 don’t add much safety value.
(b) buy a DA40 because it is also forgiving, perhaps even more than the Archer, and has a great safety record. A low-time pilot is more likely to make mistakes at low altitudes that are non-events in a DA40 but can be lethal in a faster SR20.
© buy an SR20 because it has a chute. With good training, it can be manageable by a low-time pilot, perhaps still not as easy as a DA40 or Archer but it’s not going to stall and spin from base to final as a newbie might fear. In the unlikely event that one needs to get to the ground STAT but cannot fly/land the airplane, a chute will bail one out. None of the other planes has this feature.

I know this is a Cirrus forum and the answers might be biased, and I will likely ask the same questions on Diamond and Piper forums. But I greatly appreciate any input you might have.

Kim-song, welcome.

You said that you searched the forums, but you are posting on the guest side. If you haven’t yet, consider joining and searching the member side.

After you have the license the first thing you should do is to fly both Diamond and Cirrus (since you say train in Archer, you know that one already). You can’t really make a decision before flying a bit in each.

I know that you say you don’t care about comfort, but consider that of your passenger.

Feel free to PM me if you’d like to chat about this, I am flying from both KPAO and KSQL.

Kim-son, Thomas is correct - please join COPA and begin digging through the mountain of information on the non-public fora. Otherwise, note that Thomas flies an SR-22 (not a -20) and equivocates about airports. He also misspells your fine name. Do you really trust advice from such a man?

As contrast, I have flown my -20 from KPAO since 2003 and am regarded as generous, experienced and wise (not to mention, modest and straightforward). I suggest you do listen to Thomas, but then let’s talk so I can correct misconceptions introduced in the process.

I am sorry for equivocating KSQL and KPAO. The former has 157 feet longer runway and it is well known that KPAO runway is too short for a Cirrus.

Anyway, I am relieved to say that I understood everything in Sanjay’s post. Even that link to seemingly unrelated post (hint: search for “Sanjay” there to find out why he is so proud).

My apologies for misspelling your name, Kim-son.

Welcome Kim-Son,

You have much to consider, but I wanted to make one comment for your consideration, since you mention passenger and kids.

I did my initial training in an SR20 and now fly both Sr20’s and SR22’s primarily. But, I also fly a Diamond DA40. I love all 3 aircraft, and any of them would nicely fulfill your mission. However, I do not feel comfortable taking my family in the DA40 due to the lack of the chute.

I fly my daughter back and forth to college and I always think, “If something happens to me in flight, she can safely get back on the ground”. Not so in the Diamond, no matter the great safety record of the DA40.

Good luck with your PPL. Happy flying!


All of my flight training up to earning my PPL was done in a Diamond DA20. Immediately after earning my PPL, I transitioned to flying the DA40, desiring the G1000 avionics and the autopilot. My next milestone was to train for my instrument rating.
However, when considering persuading my wife to fly with me, I asked which milestone was most important: getting my instrument rating, or transitioning to flying “the plane with the parachute.” I opted to transition to flying a SR20 for substantially enhanced safety.
There are, as well, the added benefits of comfort in the -20 vs. the DA40: very, very substantial differences that matter if you’re flying for several hours. Also, given my height (5’6’’), my view over the glare-shield is so much better in the -20 than in the -40. I no longer have to sit on a cushion to gain a better view. Matters a lot when making landings.
Finally, while not a critical factor since I rent the -20 “wet,” the fuel burn in the leaned-out -20 is about the same as in the -40, though the -20 can run lean-of-peak while the -40 must run rich-of-peak.
Overall, both the -20 and -40 are fine airplanes that would meet your projected missions well, and would be fun to fly. As has been suggested, fly both (cross-country, I recommend), fly both again, ideally with the person who will be your most frequent passenger, then, with their input, come to a decision.
Hope these considerations are helpful…
Lou Outlaw

One more Data point

some DA40s can run LOP. Mine could. Not as lean as I can with my GAMI equipped SR22 but lean enough. 75degrees lop would be smooth enough. To get there required tempest fine wires, and a new ignition system.

Lovd my 40. Love my 22 significantly more. More comfort, wife can land with the chute if I crump. Better range than my 40, AC, more adjustable seating options, better long flight comfort, smoother engine shutdown, handles turbulence better etc…

if I were looking at a 20 it would be a harder decision but after a few years with my 22, I’d think hard about the 20 over the 40.

Oh oh one last very important thing, Diamonds support of the 40 sucks. They are not interested in legacy customers.

Thanks for adding A/C!! How could I have missed that!! It was brutal doing flight training during the summer months here in Middle Tennessee, especially given the full-plexi canopy of the DA40. A most welcome addition the factory-installed A/C in the SR20.
Another data-point: the -20 is considerably quieter in flight compared to the -40 with its very noisy air-vents. And did we mention the seat-adjustments available in the -20 but not at all in the -40? Another factor that enhances comfort in the -20, especially on cross-country flights.

you may want to investigate a portable AC unit…I think the permanent unit adds 60-70lbs to the plane…I’m in INDY and I’d trade a few sweaty days for the extra payload any time!

How did the A/C got into this thread? This is for SR20 and the OP said:

Not important factors: speed, comfort, ramp appeal, glass cockpit

Also, this is Bay Area and there is no need whatsoever for A/C here. Really no point. We pay high taxes so that we can have nice weather, not too hot, not too cold all year long.

Thank you all for your thoughtful insights. I have heard much about the high quality of COPA and am likely becoming a paid member soon even if I’m undecided on my first plane.

Thomas and Sanjay, thank you. It’s nice to know local pilots/owners of SR20/22. There seems to be lots of Cirrus planes around the Bay Area. I’m planning to try both the DA-40 and SR20 soon. I’ll PM you separately.

Lou and Paul, thank you for sharing your experiences. It seems that you both didn’t have any problem flying the Cirrus when you were still pretty low-time.

I appreciate the comments about comfort. Yes, it doesn’t matter to me, but you’re right, I shouldn’t assume so for my wife or kids. As in most households, the wife holds the veto power. :slight_smile:

Overall, I love having CAPS for low-probability events. But basically it points down to this–for a low-time pilot, do the docile handling characteristics of a PA-28 or DA-40 outweigh the safety benefit of a chute-equipped SR20 that is supposedly more slippery and not as docile, especially when considering low-altitude, low-speed maneuvers?

I’m leaning toward the SR20 but still appreciate any more input from you all. Thanks again.


You will love a 20 it is a great plane and I recommend A/C if you can get it. The cockpit of a cirrus tends to be a green house, and you and your passengers will be much more comfortable. I would also say that as much as I loved my 20 I started taking longer trips and found the speed and payload not to be adequate for my missions. I would consider buying the most plane you can for your budget and look at a 22. I sold my 20 after a year. Let me know if you have more questions about my experience. I’d be happy to talk it over on the phone.

Thanks for adding A/C!! How could I have missed that!! It was brutal doing flight training

I would point out that flight training is done at relatively low altitudes. Once you are spending your time going places the A/C becomes less important, and useful load more so. Not sure if you can get it in a 20 anyway.

via COPAme

A few more considerations, if you’ll still working through the decision-making re: a SR20 versus a DA40…:
Several months ago, a very close friend and his wife were visiting and he wanted to go flying with me (in a DA40). Off we went. When settled at cruise, he suddenly went “Oh, sh.t! What did I do…?!” as the autopilot disconnect tone sounded and the plane begin to do its own thing re: flight path, though nothing drastic. I was immediately on the controls; got us back on course; re-engaged the autopilot; then explained to my friend what had happened: he was changing position in the right seat, and inadvertently bumped the disengage button on the control stick as he was moving his left arm and hand…
I recount this incident to indicate how easy it is for an inadvertent movement by someone in the right seat to affect flight controls; consequently, the need for passengers in the right seat to be particularly aware of, and cautious regarding, the right-side control stick. Doing so will constrain their seating and movements, particularly if the right-side passenger is an energetic and excited Little Person.
I’ve thought about this in terms of having my wife, or any female, in the right seat. First, whether they could fly comfortably in the presence of the control stick while wearing a dress or skirt. Imagine checking the full motions of the control stick just before run-up and having to ask “Excuse me, Ma’am, but could you open your legs a bit wider…?” Imagine a right-seat female passenger having to ‘keep her legs open’ during a flight, not being able to relax and cross her angles during a cross-country… Or, what if, like my wife, the right-side passenger chooses to read a book? How would they hold the book comfortably without interfering with the control stick?
None of these issues emerge in a SR20 with the side yoke. And I find it very helpful being able to adjust the seat (forward and backward just a bit, the entire seat or just the back) on cross-country flights, including being able to stretch my legs yet be able to quickly readjust the seating to best positions for controlling the airplane. And I will definitely be assured that my wife (or any right-seat passenger) will be able to read, lower the seat back and take a nap, stretch and/or cross their legs, move around in the seat and gesture at will—all without the impediment of a control stick between their legs or the danger of accidentally disengaging the autopilot. I take comfort, too, is knowing that no female right-seat passenger will be made uncomfortable by having a phallic object sticking up between her legs for which she must ‘keep her legs spread’.
For your consideration, Good Sir.
Lou Outlaw


That’s a very persuasive argument against the control stick. If my wife were to read your anecdote, she would veto the DA-40 in the heart beat. :slight_smile:

I’m an SR20 fan. My mission was similar to yours and flew it everywhere in the US (except Alaska/Hawaii) and Bahamas. I had a 2001 model for 14 years and am happy to discuss whatever you need from my experience. I had it through a chute repack, engine work, many repairs, etc.


I can relate an even more dangerous story from my DA40.

We were flying to Texas and my wife decided to get something out of her purse. When sh went to put it away, she somehow managed to catch the flap switch and activated one notch at 140 knots. Got my attention quick as we suddenly pitched nose down and slowed dramatically. Quick flip and we were back in our way but it could have been a real problem.

much more room for a fidgety passenger to move around with out screwing something up in a SRxx

You consider that a NEGATIVE?? [6]

Now, Sir Paul, I trust that you are both an officer and a gentleman!
Let’s just say the request of the lady is especially appropriate on the ground and properly situated (oh, the memories of high school in my dad’s '56 Ford Fairlane hardtop, on many a Sunday evening or after the Friday night football games…), not while endeavoring to pilot a single-engine plane…

My first plane was a beautiful '99 Archer 3 with 55x and 430w. I added a Garmin mfd etc. I planned to own her for 5 yrs. I completed my ppl and IFR in her and sold it to buy a new (2007) 22. It was amazing and cheap and friendly, but too slow and small to be family friendly. I owned it a long and wonderful 13 months … Choose for the mission u can and will have in a year or two. 20 or perhaps better a 22. No substitute for chutes and HP.

I still keep in touch with the guy who bought my archer 9 yrs ago … He and his son got their IFR and fly it a lot around TX. N813DC

No bad choices.