Cirrus SR20 perspective but NO AutoPilot

I recently purchased 2010 SR20 with G1000 ( perspective) but it does not have any autopilot. Does anyone here have any suggestions on how I can get one installed?
It was originally purchased by Purdue University as a training plane without AutoPilot

… hard to believe. Do you have a photo of the panel?

I heard about these airplanes, but never saw it. Stupidity of institutions (Purdue) never ceases to amaze me.

I would start with Garmin dealers in your area.

Thanks for the photo. I had no idea these exist … and I even less understand what that configuration is good for. A full glass cockpit without autopilot? HOW do the students learn how to use an A/P? … and we all know how important that is.

Now let’s hope that the rest of the Garmin installation allows for an easy installation of the GFC700 (500?) and that it’s not some G1000 “light version” …

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Wonder if they paid money not to install it?


Why would you need an autopilot in a primary trainer? A GFC700 accounts for 10% of the cost of the plane. In a fleet, that’s a tremendous amount of money.

I’m glad I was introduced to autopilots many years after I started flying. Way too many people out there using autopilots as crutches.


I agree.

The ideal is to learn to FLY without the crutch of an autopilot and once you do, then learn about the autopilot.

I would make the same argument for instrument training.

An ideal training fleet would have autopilot less aircraft as well as otherwise identical aircraft with a full autopilot.

While I know that you could simply ignore an autopilot that may be there, the temptation to use it is simply too great - and if it’s in the airplane, it’s fair game for the examiner, so you have to learn how to use it properly.


Genius! Don’t get an autopilot for a couple of years, fly a lot in the interim, and become the best Cirrus stick in existence!


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I don’t agree when it comes to instrument training. If you don’t learn how to use an autopilot as part of that when will you?

A friend of mine was once flying into an airport and got a heading to fly from approach as he got close. He dialed it in but got a call from approach a few minutes later to confirm his heading. He then realized he had turned the heading knob but not switched the autopilot from NAV to HDG. That seems like a mistake that’s better made in a training environment than hard IMC.


I almost “bit” on that same plane, except it didn’t have the GFC700 and no real way to add an AP that was economical.

I’m not suggesting you don’t learn about autopilots during instrument training. I’m just saying that before you even know what an autopilot is, you need to be proficient in basic control in IMC, and hand flying approaches.

There’s a whole aging generation of instrument pilots who learned that way, and who can still fly instrument procedures if the autopilot fails or if they screw up programming the navigator or autopilot.

Being able to fly in IMC without an autopilot is an essential skill for anyone who chooses to venture into instrument conditions.


I totally agree. However, by removing the AP from its training aircraft, the flight school denied the students an opportunity to learn about AP operations. This is unfortunate.

All those who cheer the “no AP” aircraft, may I humbly ask you to not use the AP on your next 3 hour coross-country in a Cirrus, and report back how much you loved this genius act?


This is the aviation equivalent of “in our days, we walked to school 5 miles in a snowstorm, uphill both ways.”


I don’t know anything about Purdue, but I don’t think that’s the case. In my school back in Brazil, the primary trainers were super simple. Then as we progressed in our “career”, we would transition to more “advanced” airplanes, IFR capable, multi-engine, autopilot, etc. That was intentional, so students learn the stuff in order, without skipping important steps.

A school doesn’t buy a fleet to fly 3-hour cross countries. Those planes spend 8+ hours per day flying primary training near the airport.

I love my autopilot, just like I love the adaptive cruise control on my car. If either fails, it’s just an inconvenience and I won’t fear my life because of that.

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I assume you are aware of cross country requirements for a commercial certificate, right?

Yes, I’m going through that right now. Certainly comfortable to do on autopilot. Generations have done without it also. A student must be able to do that with and without it. It’s a convenience feature.

I don’t have a yaw damper and oh, I really wish I had. Like really, on those 30-minute climbs. That said, I think it’s a big problem people learning to fly on an SR22 with automatic yaw damper. Those folks will never learn to use their feet.

This is like typing looking at the keyboard, instead of looking at the screen. Your brain needs to be focused always on the outcome (the HSI), not on the action (the HDG bug).

I remember some ATP time building schools that removed autopilots in their planes, so that two students could log time, even though they both weren’t PIC.

Here’s some info:

Autopilot Regulations

For operations under Part 135, FAR 135.101 and 135.105 state that two pilots are required when carrying passengers under IFR unless an operative and approved autopilot system is installed, in which case one pilot is required. Nowhere in the regulations does it state that the use of the autopilot is required. Because of this, a Part 135 operator can elect to either:

  • Fly under IFR with one pilot using the autopilot system, or…
  • Fly with a designated SIC without using the autopilot.

According to a 2009 FAA legal interpretation “when the certificate holder elects before IFR flights not to use the autopilot system, two pilots are required by Part 135. Thus, an SIC may log flight time. This is one way that airlines like Cape Air, Tradewind Aviation, Mokulele Airlines, etc. are able to operate single pilot airplanes with both crewmembers logging flight time.”

I’m betting that Purdue uses this setup, to help ATP students get to their 1500 flight time requirement.


The SR20 is not being used in a Part 135 operation.

That’s exactly my opinion.

When I did my IFR (in 2002) the autopilot of the schools C-172RG was always INOP, so I hand flew the complete 35 hours required. While that was good for my hand flying competence (after all the required precision was +/- 100 ft and max 5 degrees off course, no idea about the FAA rules!) … by the end of the course and even much later I had no idea how to use an autopilot on an IFR flight …

And: you can always switch it off for practicing hand flying. To me the autopilot is a basic tool for real IFR flying.