Flying a cirrus for a private owner

We will be located in the southwest. The owner is only doing day trips typically, with the occasional overnight. All travel will remain in the southwest. Because it’s typically just himself, he opted for this plane because it get get him there efficiently and he doesn’t need a lot of cargo.

He has done training and does know how to operate the cirrus aircraft systems.

My goal is to get my hours by actually flying, not sitting in the right seat and demonstrating a maneuver once in a while. I do understand the pro’s of being a CFI though. However, I have the opportunity to do fly with this gig and another one as well, so CFI is definitely not my goal, but always an option.

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More experienced folks will have a lot more to say, but day trips in the southwest might be a more favorable setup for this. The fact that the owner has been doing this is also maybe good, depends a lot on the prior pilot.

Regarding what one learns as a CFI, the fact that your hands aren’t on the controls doesn’t mean you aren’t flying the plane. The 8-hour n00b sitting in the left seat is basically an autopilot that will mostly try to do what you tell it to, but it’s really hard to program and filled with disastrous failure modes. And the really important choices, like when to take the controls on a stiff crosswind landing, or whether to try that cross country with OVC 035, you’re making all of those.

This is not to say that hours flying survey or zipping an owner from Scottsdale to Burbank aren’t perfectly good hours, but don’t underestimate what one learns when trying to avoid getting killed by their students…


Most pilots only have to wonder how will this airplane try to kill me today.

Instructors have to worry, in addition, how will my student try to kill me today.

This is a low paying high risk profession.


I’m not sure where in the Southwest you will be flying but if it’s over or in ANY mountainous terrain, you should get some mountain flying training with a CSIP or CFI experienced in such flying. Those shifting winds, downdrafts, updrafts can be unpredictable and deadly, even on clear sunshine filled blue sky days.



Sounds like a wonderful opportunity. I’m a low time, 360ish hour guy that came from the steam gauge 172/182 world, that has taken it very slowly and I’m training for my instrument now. Insurance obv isn’t cheap. I’m still learning after 110 hours or so. I have a G2. I have stuck to my personal minimums a number of times causing missed flight lessons, ( have to fly to my CFI) plans, etc. This is one plane you don’t want to fall behind on. But your ahead of me with your commerical and IFR so I’m just adding to the convo and excited for you. This is a great group of people, who are a lot smarter than me.

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Hi Nathan

Southwest is great place to fly. Mostly sunny days and gentleman’s IFR (marine layer).

Forget IFR in the winter (may as well tell the boss now) and you most likely will be go with most day flights.

Night is different with all the mountains…stay VFR.

Careful trying to impress the boss, and remind him that Mr Bryants helicopter pilot, aiming to please, has a really bad day.

Might be a good idea for both you AND the boss do the 30 day COPA trial.

It is as important for pilots and maybe more important for owners.

Good luck.



You got good advice already.
Mine is simple…. Study the POH, the FOM, the Garmin Pilot’s guide. Study it, not read it.
On a different thread I posted this picture fro. Facebook….

If you cannot tell what each antenna, probe, fuel sump, light, etc does… In my humble opinion you have no business flying commercially for any operation with that type!
Not an instructor. Feel free to hit me privately off line!

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I did some mountain training last year before flying to Oshkosh, as we were going to be near the Rockies. Definitely useful!

My partner pays his pilot $350 per day + meals and minimum of 5 days per month. My partner only flys VMC but his employee will be more aggressive. I saw one flight were they tried to break through a line and ended up back at the same place. I don’t think he’ll be doing that again, but you have to learn somehow. I’ve don’t some crazy things as well which fortunately I still around to talk about but won’t be doing again.

People I know that do this in the southeast get $500/day for a piston. Your cost of living is probably higher, and you might expect more than that.

$500/day is pretty standard here in the Midwest.

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Gonna own up. I don’t know what the top doofer is…thinking Sat phone?

Good systems knowledge is good. Good hands and judgement are more important. Ask any fighter pilot and he will tell you there was a beeps and squeaks nerd who knew how to build an Aim-9 but couldn’t BFM his way out of a paper bag.

When I was trained on the 727 under 121 appendix F rules, your orals were trial pursuit. T-38 IPs would ask us in UPT the number of rings on the trim switch…it was a “for fun” question but captures the silliness of some of the detail.

Most airlines have gone to AQP. You still cover systems but at an operator level. The emphasis is on teamwork, checklist use, and ADM. Most pilots won’t die if they don’t know if the pitot heat is AC or DC. As long as the antenna isn’t dangling and my radio works, I don’t care which aerial is used by Nav 2. But if you can tell me every nut and bolt on the bird but plunk the thing down at 85 knots on its nosewheel…we got a problem.


Your still ahead of me, I don’t even know what a doofer is… :wink:

The antena (roughly) encircled in the picture above is the active traffic antenna.

:woozy_face::no_mouth:. This makes me sad and angry.


That is utterly amazing to me. It’s essentially volunteer work, after taxes.


I fully agree. My original point was NOT to know every nut and bolt. It was to be able to find relevant information in the POH (or AFM).

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I suspect the market is anchored low as there are pilots trying to build time so look at it as an investment to get to bigger/more complex (read higher-paying) iron. For a ten hour service day that’s $50/hr. Probably more than the regionals would be paying on an hourly basis right? Challenge is how consistently you can find those hours.

In my piston Part 91 commercial experience, “days” usually meant about 14 hours front door to front door. And then there’s taxes, normally 1099’d at 33% taxable.

But I get it. Lots of young folks willing to fly for nothing…

This ^10.

For my 737-200 oral, the Fed asked “how many blades in the fan?” "How many ply in the tires?

Some other guys got the big one…“I’m a molecule of air. How do I get from the engine intake to out of the airplane. Tell me every system that uses air.”

That might have some relevance to ops, but not much.

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I have played a molecule of fuel in a system with interperative dance…