Autopilot woes fixed (mostly)

If you read the story of our autopilot woes, I’d like to share the results of the latest rounds of fixes.

I last wrote that the plane was on it’s way to Duluth to have the factory see if they could figure out why it was flying to the right of course. Remember though, we had several other autopilot problems as well, all resolved, but this one couldn’t be fixed.

Cirrus suspected the rigging of the airplane, but the template sent to our service center to check the rigging wouldn’t even fit so they asked us to bring it back. Ian offered to pay for our trip back to the factory for this warranty item.

About 1 week before it was scheduled to go back to Duluth, my partner mentioned that the autopilot “disconnected” while on an approach. I mentioned that before I believe in this forum. He and I were stymied, and both figured it was disconnected somehow by him.

On the trip to Duluth, he noticed that the autopilot worked for about 2 hours, then disconnected again. This time he mentioned, it just didn’t disconnect, it completely turned OFF. In other words, the lights were dead on the front, and it wouldn’t work at all. He pulled the breaker and reset. It came back to life, but immediately went out again.

After about 5 minutes, it just came back on in standby mode. The green light was shining. He put it back on and it worked again for a couple of hours, then turned off. It would come back on by itself within about 5 minutes.

After reaching Duluth, they were told of this problem and of course the reason it was there (to fix the flying right of course problem)

They spent over 8 hours working on the plane. The problem with the right of course, indeed turned out to the aircraft rigging. They flew it for about 2 hours total and pronounced it working fine. They blew off the turning off problem because they couldn’t reproduce it.

My partner takes the plane home and on the first leg, the autopilot turns off after about 2 1/2 hours. It would stay off for a little over 5 minutes, turn itself back on, stay on for a short time, and turn off again.

He called Cirrus and they told him that it may have been because he wasn’t trimmed up before he turned on the autopilot. I took great offense to this after hearing the story, because of course, the autopilot trims the airplane, and in any case that would have no bearing on it completely losing power.

I called them and we all agreed that the autopilot WILL trim the airplane, because that’s how it works. (It’s an STEC 30 with Alt Hold on an SR20 B) I am assuming that there was just a communication breakdown between the two of them.

I flew the airplane next on a long day trip to Jekyll Island Georgia (498 nm each way). On the way down, I decided I would keep a log. The autopilot worked for 1 1/2 hours exactly, turned off for exactly 8 minutes then turned itself on for 4 minutes, then off for 8, on for 4. After our fuel stop, it worked for 1 hour went off, then never came back on for the rest of that leg (<2 hours). On the trip back, I decided to not turn it on. The green light stayed on for 1 hour, then turned itself off and never came back on, until after our fuel stop. Without even using it, it turned off.

This was on a Friday and on the next Monday, I was taking the plane to Indianapolis. Contacted Cirrus and they were very nice and accommodating. They were at a loss though as they had never heard of the problem. We found a shop at an airport near where I was going in Indy that would replace the autopilot. Called Cirrus and I asked for a complete replacement and they had no problem with that. and they said “no problem, we’ll ship it to them.”

I flew out there and the autopilot worked for 40 minutes, then never again.

The autopilot arrived on that Wednesday (as we had asked) and was replaced. The shop was called Montgomery Aviation at the Indianpolis Terry Airport (TYQ). The owner of the shop, Dan, was outstanding.

They had a car waiting for me and were even going to accomodate my late night arrival. They placed the plane in a hangar for several nights at no charge, did all of the work requested and were very fast.

I had Dan, change out the autopilot, fix the HID light bracket (2nd time it’s broken), change the oil, and clean the fuel injectors.

He did a great job and was super nice. He is trying to become a Cirrus service center as a gent on his field is buying one. My experience with his shop was very favorable.

On the trip home, the autopilot worked like a champ with no problems. The last remaining problem is the autopilot oscillates the stick from left to right slightly while in cruise (you can’t really feel it) We’ve had this problem before and I’m not sure what they did to fix it. So at least though, we can now use the NAV mode and everything.

Did I mention that I love this plane?



That gent in Indianpolis that is waiting on a Cirrus would be me.(Gent is using the term pretty loosely, though). Dan Montgomery has always done the work on my plane for the last 10 years. Highly recommended. Glad he took care of the AP problem successfully.

Which brings up a question, what work , if any, would he not be allowed to do, not being a Cirrus Service center yet?


Derek, please advise if you fix or recall what is was that remedied the rocking autopilot. I have had this for a while, and have never heard a solution.

thanks, Jim

Derek, please advise if you fix or recall what is was that remedied the rocking autopilot. I have had this for a while, and have never heard a solution.

thanks, Jim

Hi Paul: Dan did a great job. I commented to Cirrus about him today to let them know I was impressed with his work and to let him know he was very customer oriented.

I’m not sure what they would and wouldn’t allow to be done under warranty with a non authorized service center. They’ve been very good to us in this regard. I’ve had several repairs done at non authorized service centers.

You getting a 22 or a 20? If you’re getting a 22 will you have room in those tiny open T hangars or are you putting it somewhere else?


I was flying with a gentleman out of Columbus, IN (BAK) in a 20 and we experience the same thing you did (wing rocking). We flew to Muncie IN (MIE) and worked with Muncie Aviation there on the field. We were told that it is a resistor problem and that there needed to be a resistor to “match up” with the auto pilot. I flew the plane with one of their avionics techs and he had hooked up a small box that simulates different resistor loads to the A/P. We flew around for about an hour to “tweak” the setting and then returned to the shop. They installed the correct resistor and viloa the wing rocking stopped or actually I should say greatly reduced. I hope this helps.

Jim, I frankly don’t remember what was done before when they fixed it. In this current case, I called Cirrus and they suggested lubricating some points within the ailerons. I will try this and report back.


****You getting a 22 or a 20? If you’re getting a 22 will you have room in those tiny open T hangars or are you putting it somewhere else? ******


I will be basing the plane at MQJ, closer to home, better hangers, but using Dan for maintenance.