I’m multi-engine, instrument rated pilot who recently made transition to SR20. Given several recent tragedies, including the SR22 crash, I wanted to raise an issue with those far more familiar with the airplane.
My main concern about the SR20, which I absolutely love, is that it is easy for unfamiliar pilots to become fixated on the Garmins, at the expense of looking out the window or keeping up an instrument scan. In reading the preliminary NTSB report on the Lexington, Ky., non-fatal crash, what seems clear is that the pilot was distracted from an active instrument scan when the plane got into trouble. ``The pilot was in the process of selecting the (GPS RW 04) approach in the airplane’s global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver,’’ NTSB said. We don’t know what happened in the SR22 crash this week, and we may never know. But what we do know is that the plane crashed vertically – the pilot had lost control.
Based on my own first 20 hours or so in the SR20, I find it easy to become engrossed in the Garmins. Loading an instrument approach given to you by ATC can take some work until you get very proficient at it. I was surprised that the factory training I received didn’t focus on that more.
Too much head down in the cockpit certainly isn’t unique to Cirrus, or to general aviation. The American Airlines crash in Cali, Columbia, a few years back resulted in over-reliance on the flight management computer. An incorrect fix was entered (not verified by pilots as required) while flying down a valley, and the plane started a turn back. Pilots realized that was wrong, but lost situational awareness focusing on the computer, and crashed into mountain top. It’s the peril of too much automation.
My question is this: Do others share concern that the wonderful avionics, which provides so many benefits in situation awareness and safety, pose a significant danger to low-time Cirrusites? If so, does Cirrus factory training, or even COPA’s recurrent training course, address that sufficiently?
Scott SR20, N262GM