SR22 #127 was delivered in mid-December and flown cross-country from Duluth to San Diego via New Orleans. Now have 50 hours in 2 weeks with several additional flights in California. Here are some extensive comments on the experience.
STUDENT PILOT TUESDAY, OWNER THURSDAY
Owner pilot received Temporary Airman Certificate Tuesday evening, flew to Duluth Wednesday and picked up plane at Cirrus on Thursday. Not recommended stress levels, but complications from airspace shutdown compressed schedules. Pilot had 65 hours, mainly in low-wing Cherokee Warrior family with 1-hour instruction in SR20 at Wings Aloft in Seattle. Thanks to Bill Graham and Kevin Lane-Cummings for counsel on low-time experience in high-performance planes.
COPA forum postings provided an astonishing amount of insight into the Cirrus family of planes. Decided to buy based upon value proposition that met my need for high-performance, long-distance, modern avionics-assisted, cross-country flying. Also, enjoyed coincidence of 4 SR22 planes for sale around Sept 11 events! Thanks to many who shared their experiences, concerns and enthusiasm for Cirrus planes! (P.S. Never flew one before I bought one.)
After several conversations, insurance quotes were revised downward from approximately $10,000 as student to $8,400 as private pilot with SR22 restrictions of 20-hours dual-instruction and 30-hours in-type before passengers covered. Modest coverage of $1,000,000 liability, $100,000 per passenger. Anticipate further improvements with instrument rating in Spring.
On-plan from Cirrus notification of actual delivery date. Suzi Knox was gracious, helpful and professional throughout! Curious to observe contract administration whiteboard had smiliar gaps to COPA table of deliveries. For instance, where are SR22 #124, #125, #126? Perhaps they are fleet purchases that are impacting deliveriesÂ…
Cirrus folks in front-office were aware of and happy that #127 was such a Â“good planeÂ” to which I responded Â“You tell everyone that!Â” Apparently not. I took this as pride that their internal quality control efforts were working and that they were achieving success.
Worked from Cirrus acceptance checklist with additional emphasis from Dave BulmanÂ’s extensive checklist. Autopilot: Cirrus flight instructor, who flew acceptance flights, complained about off-heading adjustment only to learn that it was within specs and this is an in-flight adjustment that Cirrus Flight Ops should make! Door seals: obvious whistle in pilot door and squeaks while taxiing, mechanics fixed overnight. Overhead light button fell out: duhhh! Gap in left wing root fairing recaulked. Call-sign label too high on panel for tall pilot, so they added another label lower down. Door locks pretty cheezy, only ignition lock works smoothly, suspect poorly cut tumbler pins. Surprise rudder hinge bearing replacement overnight due to manufacturing mixup between very similar round and flat bearing parts (more internal quality control checks at work). Flap retraction motor adjustment. ThatÂ’s it. All squawks fixed promptly. 2 unusual squawks: Duluth ATC reported 200 foot variation on transponder on alternate sweeps (never recurred) and open-mike sounds as we crossed inner marker (never recurred). Both put us on guard for electrical gremlins that never surfaced during training or ferry flight home.
Prime 60 secs, throttle nearly closed (well below detent), boost on, start, donÂ’t touch throttle until running smoothly (longest 15-30 seconds in a new plane!). Worked 5 different times after being on ramp in M3 to M7 Celsius for 1-4 hours.
Prime 30-60 secs, throttle nearly closed, boost on, start, donÂ’t touch throttle until running smoothly. Several attempts with throttle open at detent or wider were inconsistent, as were various priming strategies. Amazing to me that engine starts and runs with throttle at idle! But not touching throttle until smooth running takes almost too much patience to bear!
Low ceilings and icing in clouds delayed acceptance flights. First acceptance flight was at night when skies cleared and first training flight was 3 touch-and-goes at sunset then heading south for 2-hour night cross-country to St. Paul, MN, to begin flight home! (Instructor missed both Cirrus holiday parties.)
Instructor, Matt McDaniel, was excellent and his flexible yet disciplined approach was a good match for my low-time experience and the challenging weather in Duluth and central USA. Still using Wings Aloft training manual. Recommend DO ALL THE WORKSHEETS before starting ground school. These provide valuable insight into conversations about the plane with the instructor, the mechanics, and the customer service folks.
TRAINING FOR LOW-TIME PILOTS
Highly recommend beginning training with a long cross-country flight. While weather forced me into this approach, it was an excellent introduction into flight instrument scans, fight systems, navigation, controls and situational awareness. Transition from low-wing Cherokee to Cirrus high-performance was pretty natural and basic maneuvers came easily after getting comfortable with what the plane was telling me. Intensive work on maneuvers and crosswind and performance landings were much easier on day 2 and 3 with this schedule. Emergency descent from 10,500 to 3,500 in 1:04 was pretty dramatic. And flying VFR in SR22 at speed in busy airspace in southern California demonstrated how wonderful a platform this is, with 7 controller hand-offs and 3 altitude assignments from from San Diego Class B through LAX Class B space in 25 minutes!
IFR EXPERIENCE FOR VFR PILOTS
Do it with this plane! Having instructor on ferry flight created opportunity for 2 actual IFR landings. Other than waiting out icing in Duluth and avoiding thunderstorms in Texas and central USA, filed and flew IFR over first half of route. Autopilot and altitude selector help with flying discipline. But appreciation for the capabilities of this plane provides ample motivation to learn more and instills confidence that I can read and interpret the instruments effectively. And it was a total blast to come out of the clouds at 1,000 feet over Lake Ponchartrain and land at Lakefront at night!
ARNAV VS AVIDYNE
Being a computer graphics wizard, I wish I had the Avidyne. But the choice of training with an aluminum plate versus an okay-but-not-as-good-as-it-could-be MFD, left me no choice but ARNAV. And I donÂ’t regret it, despite what it might cost or what I might defer from a later upgrade. For my transition, the integration makes the plane what it is. Could be better, but having the MFD was vital. I have a lengthy list of ARNAV squawks, wishes, database glitches. Any advice on how best to communicate these to the company?
Some engine vibration is noticeable as low-amplitude, low-frequency vibration. However, it is not visible on wing-tips nor obvious inside cabin. And novice passengers did not feel uncomfortable on 5-hour round-trip from San Diego to Palo Alto. (Will conduct suggested vibration observations soon.)
Not a problem. Wheels did bounce around and shimmy twice on high-speed landings, once with no-flaps during training and another where I failed to slow it down enough on landing that caused porposing and prompted an immediate go-around. Otherwise, over 40 mostly docile landings.
Noticed a few occasional small-amplitude Â“huntingÂ” effects with autopilot, especially when climbing or dealing with substantial headwinds. Only noticed when resting hand against yoke. Otherwise, no large-amplitude changes, and no cross-talk with electrical or communications stuff.
After first oil change, dipstick read 8 quarts right on. Unfortunately, I think the engine promptly blew out the top quart as I have had to clean up a substantial amount of oil and exhaust residue from belly of plane. Also noted inconsistent oil-level readings that differ by almost a quart after and between flights, perhaps from slope of plane affecting how fast oil returns to sump.
Experienced a bit of confusion from advice to wait 6 months for paint to cure before waxing. Wanted to clean off a few bugs and coating of dust from cross-country flights and needed to remove substantial oil and exhaust residue from belly. WashWaxAll Heavy Duty and persistence did the belly, diluted cleaner did the bugs and dust.
Experimented with Bose, Lightspeed, and Pilot Avionics, and my training headset. Noise reduction was best in that order. Battery power was a problem due to forgetfullness, so panel power will be the way to go. Light weight and fewer microphone problems made the Bose a clear winner for my passengers.
Very tempting, but California airspace has way too many interruptions. And passengers are still way too interested in whatÂ’s going on. Audio levels seem lower than I hoped for, so need to investigate Garmin audio panel rev status.
Amazing but true. Flew 2900 miles in 28 hours over 5 days in 12 legs with training along the way. Flying into headwinds most of the way from 10-43 knots. Total trip averaged about 14.5 gph with cruising mixture set to 75 degrees ROP. Maintained 75% power except when at 10,500 to cross 9,000 foot mountains on the southern route. Top cruising groundspeed noticed was 188 and slowest was 143. True airspeed consistently at or above 175.
Worth it! Worth it! Worth it! Flying in southern California haze at dusk is a challenge made more tolerable with Skywatch. Prize for most targets in 12 nm radius: at least 15 between Gillespie, Montgomery Field and Lindberg. Best feature: alert when overtaken by commuter plane descending from above! Worst feature: disappearing targets that pass under my wings (antenna placement on cabin roof may be factor). Curious feature: Goodyear blimp doesnÂ’t show up! (It was landing for Holiday Bowl during my approach to Montgomery Field!)
What a blast!
Respect this plane. Quality is good. Performance is excellent. Capabilities are amazing. Pilot still living within limits while learning. And enjoying every moment of the challenge!