Cirrus vs. Lancair

I am in the process of getting my private pilot’s license and intend to purchase an airplane for business/personal use when complete. I live in Fort Collins, Colorado (just north of Denver) and will generally travel not more than 600 miles away. I have a limited aviation background, but very much embrace the “newer” styles of aircraft, rather than updated versions of older ones. I have been doing a lot of research and am VERY impressed with the performance and avionics on the Cirrus SR-22. I have read all through the Cirrus website and also on here. I was wondering if anyone else compared the Cirrus to the Lancair (which claims 285 MPH on their website), and why they chose one over another. Thanks in advance.

There was a recent post but it is on the members only message board. The author mentioned the many advantages of the Lancair but in the end decided to buy the Cirrus SR-22.

The one most important to me was the cockpit size and price. Being 6’5" 280lbs I appreciated the fact Cirrus traded 10 knots in airspeed for a larger more comfortable cabin. I also think the Lancair was over 100K more than the SR-22 which would push me to the Cirrus even more.

He also placed better odds on Cirrus being around in ten years than he did for the Lancair manufacturer.

If you are serious about an SR20/22, the first thing I would do is purchase this $50 membership. I doubt I will be in a position to buy one of these for several years, but I consider the membership well worth it. You will find much more information on insurance and maint. costs which are a larger part of the ownership costs of this aircraft than I expected.

Hope this helps,


The answer for me was simple. I wanted simplicity, safety, comfort, reliability, and as many “whistles and bells” as my budget would allow. Many people have thrown around the “ford vs. mercedes” analogy. Well, I’d prefer to drive a ford, thank you very much! (In fact, if someone gave me a new mercedes, I’d sell it, buy a ford and pocket the change.) To me, its about business and personal transportation and enjoyment of a novel recreation outlet, not about having the “coolest” toy to brag about. Therefore, all the arguments for and against either aircraft based on “luxury” concepts are moot.
As far as the airplane itself is concerned, I’m getting reliable transportation that suits my needs, safety features not found in the other make, a more comfortable and ergonomic cockpit and flight controls (which makes it more fun and less stressful to fly - especially when its “playtime” flight), and at 1/2 the price, I can afford to sell it and get the next greatest upgrade in a few years!
It may not look as sharp sitting still to some observers (not me!), and the interior may not look like some has-been movie star should be hawking it on TV (can you say “corinthian leather”? [:D]), but I didn’t buy it to look at it or show it off to people who might be impressed by how much I paid for it. I bought it to fly it! Leather interiors and multicolored external paint schemes don’t make it easier, safer, more reliable, or cheaper to maintain and repair.
And the ace-in-the-hole: If my plane tries to kill me and my family at night, over harsh terrain, etc., that parachute means we’re several orders of magnitude more likely to be alive at home when the insurance check arrives.
Personally, I think the only bragging rights that Lancair owners have is having paid a whole lot more for very little airplane with questionable reliability (too few, too little hours to know yet) and an as yet nonextant support network, from a company that is still so unstable they may not exist this time next year. (Kinda like that car commercial where the guy in the leather pants, tiger print shirt, and bad hairdo is trying to stuff three women into a two-seater imported sportscar…)
Ask yourself one question: What can a Lancair DO or DO BETTER than a Cirrus can, based on the missions you intend to accomplish with it? (If you don’t have a firm grasp of your typical mission profile yet, better get that squared away before you think about buying ANY aircraft …[:)])


In reply to:

I am in the process of getting my private pilot’s license and intend to purchase an airplane for business/personal use when complete. I live in Fort Collins, Colorado (just north of Denver) and will generally travel not more than 600 miles away. I have a limited aviation background, but very much embrace the “newer” styles of aircraft, rather than updated versions of older ones.

Two years ago, I was in your situation. Be careful of what you ask for! [:$]

Now, two years later, I have my private pilot, instrument rating, an SR22 with 740 hours and travelled about 120,000 miles and crossed the US and Canada at least 15 times (it’s an odd number because I live in San Diego and picked up the plane in Duluth, MN [H]).

Since you “embrace” the new styles of aircraft, I presume that means that you welcome the new technologies with their increased learning curves and training challenges. Well, one of the deciding factors for me two years ago was this group of Cirrus owners and pilots. Their enthusiasm, candor and amazing breadth of experience, all revealed through what is now the COPA Internet presence, provided me with so much support for my decision that I bought an SR22 without ever flying one (you had to be there to understand the jockeying for positions [:)]).

I’ve never regretted my decision. I wish you the same pleasures – in whatever “newer” style of airplane that you purchase.

However, I strongly encourage you to never give up learning. Fly safely.


Let me add that 10 knots is about all that I could really find more with the Lancair than a SR-22. I recently purchased a SR-22 as a low air time, non-IFR pilot. I did so even with my local FOB being a Lancair dealer. Of course they were not thrilled, but there are 2 SR-22’s based at my home airport (CID) and no Lancairs. But this fact allowed me to see both models before buying and the Cirrus quality and craftmanship certainly out ways Lancair. Additionally the avionics package in the Cirrus is top notch versus Lancair’s avionics still looks like a kit plane that someone put together on the weekend.

My last suggestion is start out with an SR-22 not an SR-20. Before I purchase my plane I read thread after thread about which to buy for a low air time pilot; some suggested the SR-20 so the plane doesn’t get away from you and some suggested the SR-22 or you will soon be disappointed. I opted for the latter and with proper initial instruction it turned out to be the right move for move. Previously having only flown Warriors and Archers, first stepping into the SR-22 I was in awe. But after the original 15 hours of required training by my insurance company it seemed second hand to fly it now. Not that I have experienced a wide variety of conditions, but if things get a little hairy you can always pull the speed back to Va (130knots) as if you were flying the old trainers again. Side note: If you spend anytime reading posts on this web site site you will be amazed at the number of SR-20 owners that are trading up.

Terry D. Cooper - SR-22 - N319MP

Braun: You are in an enviable position to be choosing between the two. Both are outstanding airplanes and you will not go wrong with either choice.
I am clearly biased as I have an SR22. You asked why I bought it, well, when I placed my deposit there was no such thing as a Lancair certified airplane, nor had one been announced. Once Lancair announced their intentions, I still had a choice: I could choose between two comanies which said they were going to design, certify and produce an airplane. I still chose Cirrus because I believed in them more.
If I were to make the choice today, I’d make the same one. If you go to the Lancair Pilots web site and ask the same questions, you will get very different answers. D’uh! Their site is good and they even have a few Cirrus owners on it. [;)]
The real question is for you: What is your intended use for the plane and which plane fits it better? Lancairs are marginally faster (except for the 400, which is yet to be certified, which will be turbocharged and therefore a lot faster at higher altitudes). At a difference of about 5% faster, the time saved will be very marginable. On your 600 NM trip, the time saving will be about 10 minutes.
Since they have the same engine, Lancair gained speed by making the cross section smaller, which means less drag, but also less room, especially head room in front and a lot less back seat room. (If you are 5’8" and have no friends, this won’t make any difference to you.) The Lancair, due to more fuel, has better range. But will you and your bladder be flying further than 700 - 900 NM often? As it carries more fuel, the Lancair is slightly better in being able to substitute range for payload.
In general, I fly LOP and have a TAS around 165 - 170 and burn about 12.5 -13 GPH. I could go a lot (10 - 15 knots) faster, but at the cost of 5+ GPH net. As you can see, speed isn’t everything to me.
I am very sure that both companies will be around in one or two years, but 10? 15? I am still pretty confident about Cirrus. Lancair? I don’t know. There is a huge benefit to having produced and sold over 1,000 aircraft. That is a lot of parts, experience in service, etc. and that is growing everyday. Last I recall hearing Cirrus was delivering over 1 plane a day and expanding. Lancair, over one plane a week. Does this make Cirrus better? Not necessarily, but it is something to consider.
Lancair has a mixed history with price increases, making them retroactive to existing contract holders. They have allowed, and even encouraged, new buyers to jump ahead of existing ones if they place large deposits (>65%). Lancair is a very aggressive company, both in marketing and design, and that seems to have worked for them. Cirrus is much more of a family business, but still a business. The different attitudes are noticeable.
Lastly, you will find that the parachute really makes your passengers and their families a lot more comfortable.

In the end, the questions is what are you looking for in an airplane? Enjoy making the decision.

Thanks for all of the great feedback; that is EXACTLY what I was looking for. I am continuing to do my research and working hard at becoming a safe and qualified pilot. Thanks again.

Hello Braun,

I was in the same place last year that you are this year. I purchased a new SR20 in Feb 03 and have a position in for a C400 for sometime in 2005.

Here are some of my thoughts as a low time VFR pilot:

  1. 350 vs SR22.
    a–The 10 knots won’t make much of a difference in the end.
    b–The parachute I saw as somewhat of a novelty a year ago is now a huge plus.
    c–The Lancair has a tighter cabin, but it is not cramped like a Mooney. On the otherhand, it is not spread-yourself-out-on-the-loveseat big like the Cirrus.
    d–IMO Lancair wins on trim, Cirrus on comfort.
    e–I prefer the side-stick to the side-yoke for hand-flying.
    f–Both are finely crafted, well thought-out and highly able planes.
    g–Lancair is inconsistent in their pricing, and most C400 position holders don’t have a clue what their final pricing will boil down to. This is rather disappointing.
    h–Cirrus has significantly better communication with its customers and position holders. Lancair is now finally coming out with a monthly newsletter and LOPA members are hopeful that this means better communication to come, but some are skeptical given Lancair’s closed-mouth dealings with position holders over the last 18 months.

  2. 400 vs. SR22. This is not apples to apples, unfortunately. Should Cirrus announce a turbonormalized 22, many a Cirrus owner, myself included, would begin drooling over their calculator as the work out how to make it work. 235 kts is just FAST. Even 225 or 220 with the wider Cirrus body would still be FAST. Granted, my first time over the numbers in my Cirrus at 80 kts was FAST, so its all relative (and partially due to UND training haha).

  3. Experience. I transitioned from a C172 at a little over 100 hours to the SR20. While now I am much more confident, the difference in speeds was a handful.

I wouldn’t expect that to be much different in a 22…but you would have to remember to slow down a lot sooner.

Though you may have twice the natural skill I have, don’t count on a 10 hour transition, especially if you trained in a high-wing. The way I look at it, if you can afford a Cirrus or a Lancair, you can afford a CFI flying right seat drilling you silly. I have 170 hours now and still I try to fit in as much CFI time as I can. (Just got back from CPPP, and beginning IFR training this week).

Should I have gone straight for the 22? No, not me. It would have been too much for me to chew. I am happy to build experience in the 20 over the next two years while I decide whether to step up to an SR26 (TN please!) or keep my c400 position.

  1. Insurance. While pricing has been dropping, insurance for a new VFR SR22 pilot might be 14-18k per year depending on hull value. I would count on at least 10k for the 22 and 5k for the 20. (This is not an efficient market, and prices can vary widely from co to co and in relation to the length of time from the last fatal accident).

  2. The benefits of COPA. COPA is imo the single strongest asset that Cirrus has over Lancair. I read the COPA threads religiously and my education has benefited greatly. LOPA is pretty much just getting started, and while there are some great people there, LOPA and Lancair have a long way to go to reach the critical mass of access-to-information afforded by COPA. Hell even if I flew a Diamond I would still be a COPA member. It is well worth it.

Edit: I notice you are in CO. I would probably recommend the 22 over the 20 even with the additional learning curve and ins. costs in this case. The 20’s climb rate might not cut it depending on your requirements.

836C SR20