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?