In dire need of a warm fuzzy!

Since I started flying in 2001 I have had a Cirrus poster up in my office. It’s my dream plane. I have heard from many Cirrus pilots how wonderful they are. Now that the little woman has given me a bright GREEN light to buy a USED one things are getting really blurry. For 24 hours I was the happiest guy in the world. Then I started reading things about Cirrus aircraft and now I’m getting cold feet. Not a big fan of cold feet so I have come here for a Warm Fuzzy. I PROMISE I will join the day I get my plane!

I am looking at a 2001-2004 SR20 with less than 900 hours. they are out there and and in my budget. I know about the chute repack at ten years and I can either budget to get that done or buy one that has had it done already. I currently fly a 1981 Piper Warrior II with a Garmin 430W so the 6 pack, MFD, Autopilot and Duel 430’s is a huge upgrade for me and I will be very happy with that configuration.

What has me worried - Things I’ve read and heard: 1) Always in the shop for AD’s etc. {3-4 month a year} 2) Hard to fly without the auto pilot 3) no fun for just some occasional sight seeing with friend (only good for long hauls - and then it is too hot in the cabin) 4)VERY LOUD in the cabin. 5) The Continental engine is junk.

I understand that any plane is going to have issues. But one article I read (written by an owner with 800+hours in hers) made it sound like the plane from hell…and I think she was trying to make it sound good!

I’m planning on an annual budget of about $10,000/year which would include annual and reserve for chute repack (which I would not use because I only plan to keep it for 4 or 5 years and the upgrade to a 22)

I live is Wisconsin - No mountains - so should I look for a 2 or 3 blade prop?

I plan to use this plane for local flights and some trips around the midwest. The wife would love the speed and I just love the plane! Any help Info I can get would be great!


Tony Sobczak (Future COPA Member!)

Tony: You’re going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on an airplane and you are shy of spending $65 to join COPA and get access to literally thousands of posts and threads that address the exact same “Should I buy?” question you have? Join. Don’t wait until after you buy. Get informed before you buy.

I can say that most of the things that you have read and that have you worried are BS. The airplane is a joy to fly, A/P on or off, not particularly louder than any high-performance single (uh, that’s what noise canceling headsets are for). In the shop 3-4 months a year? That’s crazy. You have read some BS from someone with a hard-on for the airplane.

I have flown dozens of aircraft types over 38 years and 5500 hours (including professionally and as a CFI) and I can tell you that the Cirrus is fun to fly, comfortable for long trips, easy to own and operate, and is a safe airplane if (like any airplane) it is flown by a safe pilot.

First of all, join COPA. It’s $65. Once you do, you will be overwhelmed with the amount of information available. Reading through that information you will learn that your fears are unfounded. The first one in particular is a joke. No need to take my word for it. Look up the number of ADs yourself. They have been very rare for any given aircraft. There are horror stories and whiney pilots for every type of aircraft. The stories you have heard are not representative of Cirrus.

Secondly, since you live in Wisconsin, get to know Wisconsin Aviation, a large Cirrus SC. In particular Pete Schroeder Director of Maintenance and Kevin Fenske, Shop Manager at RYV. I have used them for all maintenance on an SR20 for four years and an SR22 for five years. They service 60 or more Cirri regularly. They will assuage your fears.


I bought a used SR22 of a similar vintage (2002) a little over a year ago and have had a great experience with it. Previously I had been in a flying club with and Archer II and there is no comparison between the two planes. Several of your concerns would be addressed by taking a flight in a plane and trying it out. If I lived closer to Wisconsin I’d offer to take you up, but there is a good FBO (Wisconsin Aviation) that rents Cirruses and does instruction in them. Unfortunately they only have 22s on the line right now according to their website, but its the same airframe and handling is very similar. If you are thinking of spending this much money to buy a plane, it is really worth going and trying one out to see how you like it. I’ve flown with Jim Quinn at Wisconsin Aviation and would recommend him as an instructor there. Spend a few hundred dollars before you spend $100K+.

Regarding the $10,000 annual operating budget, that gives me a little pause if that really includes everything associated with the plane. Realistically, I’m not sure I could actually operate a Warrior on $10,000 a year when I factor in all of the operating expenses (never mind the cost of the aircraft). We all account for our flying expenses differently and many of us choose not to look at the full cost on purpose. However insurance, hangar, annuals, fuel, regular maintenance, etc… are likely to total quite a bit more than $10K from my experience (albeit in an SR22) if you are putting hours on the plane. My fuel bill alone can easily top $1000 in a month if the plane is getting used (again that’s a 22 and not a 20, but 20s still need gas).

Also, if you buy a 2003 or 2004 Cirrus, then in the next couple of years you are guaranteed of spending the $11,000 to repack the chute and replace the rocket. Servicing the CAPS system isn’t a decision like overhauling an engine at the recommended TBO, its mandatory when it comes due upon the 10 year expiration of those components. All of the 2001 planes and many of the 2002 planes have had this already done or they wouldn’t be flying. This might cause you to favor the earlier planes or negotiate harder on the price for the newer ones in the 2001 to 2004 range you are looking at.

Good luck trying one out and hopefully it will live up to the dream.

I see the problem already Tony. For 12 years you’ve had a poster and a dream, and yet you haven’t spent $65.00 to LEARN about the aircraft from those who know it best. You say you are worried about, “Things”, that you’ve read and heard, and yet you’ve read NOTHING, an heard NOTHING, from the COPA owners; curious. I’m not surprised that your are nervous.

So, I’ll leave others to pacify your anxiety. But consider that there are 5000+ Cirrus out there, manufactured over approximately 12 years. Aircraft ownership isn’t for everyone, but if you are going to be an owner, LEARN from other owners . . . and spring for the $65.00.


I think you may have been listening to the brand C sales guy [;)] (actually they have been known to brutally bash the Cirrus to make their sales). In order you listed:

  1. AD’s, that is pure BS. BS on steroids actually. I have a 6 pack 22 and its been years since an airframe AD hit mine. The plane does get service bulletins from Cirrus, which may be wise to do, but they are not mandatory. Even at that, the SB activity on older planes is pretty rare these days. The type is stable. Even when my plane was new I did not endure 3 or 4 AD’s per year.

  2. The plane is hard to fly OUT OF TRIM. And some argue trimming it more art than science - you do have to develop a touch for it. Many folks that do not learn to trim rely on the AP. I flew to breakfast yesterday, about a 30 minute flight plus or minus each way. I never turned the autopilot on. Trust me, I am lazy and would have turned it on if it was so much work to fly. But I enjoy looking out the window flying hands on. Learn effective use of trim in any plane and life is easier as a pilot, perhaps a bit more so in the Cirrus with its spring centering trim cartridges.

  3. See my comment above. I do think the Cirrus is a great cross country plane and others may be more fun for local hundred dollar meal runs. But those are Cubs, RV’s, Wacos, etc… and not good for cross country. The cirrus is a great compromise. I fly out of Phoenix AZ. Hot is relative, but if it was miserable I certainly wouldn’t fly a cirrus in the summertime.

  4. Composite planes transmit noise more effectvely than an AL one, so they are a tad louder. That said, I would not fly any airplane without headsets. And as I age, to protect what I have left of my hearing I don’t fly any airplane without ANR headsets. With ANR headsets the cockpit is completely acceptable. No complaints from my family or passengers. The 20 is considerably quieter IMO than the 22, something about 50% more HP I think [H]

  5. The particular engine in the 20 is not Continentals best engine. OTOH, while it has had a few issues (the occasional cracked case being the most onerous - which is serious) it has served many folks without issue. I can recall a dozen or so reports of cracked cases, so it still is the exception rather than the rule. And TCM has actually helped with less expensive exchanges on many of those.

I fly a 22. My actual out of pocket costs of operation for about 120 hours last year was right at 15K and that includes fuel (does not include interest or depreciation - it is paid for) - I do not know if your 10K includes fuel or not. It will be easy to hit that if you did not include fuel, more difficult if you include fuel and fly much. My biggest required expense (by far) has been the chute repack. That leaves out optional upgrades like avionics work. Of course stuff will happen at some point that will be expensive, but that is true on any airplane. BTW, I need to disclose I do most of the work on my plane which keeps the cost lower. I recommend you find and A&P that will let you assist to learn and also reduce your costs IF you are at all mechanically inclined.

That is more a personal thing than a performance thing. The plane climbs a tad (I do mean just a tad) faster with the 3 blade, but the 2 blade cruises a tad faster. Of course the 3 blade has ramp appeal. My personal opinion is you should search for the plane that fits most of your requirements and take whatever prop is on it.

Wow, Tony, my experience with my 2003 SR20 couldn’t be more polar opposite from what you are reporting! Seriously!! I have a little over 800 hours on my airplane and it is 3-bladed.

To address some of your concerns:

In the time I’ve had her, I’ve never had downtime due to an AD. ADs have been fairly mimimal or just a quick fix, nothing major. Maintenance has been very reasonable, and frankly all the maintenance has been the ordinary wear and tear, nothing really out of the ordinary. Annual takes maybe 4-5 days at best, so that is the longest I am down. Parts can sometimes be an issue but the one time I was looking for a ‘scarce’ part, COPA and Cirrus themselves came to the rescue and I had the part quickly.

Not sure what your budget includes but my maintenance only including annual runs about 5000 year (oil changes, occasional CHT/EGT probe, annual including the stuff they find/fix, usually rather minor.) The SR 20 is very fuel efficient and my fuel bill is a dream compared to others at my airport…they are jealous…LOL! My insurance is about 1500/year and I am instrument rated. The SR22s have a higher insurance rate, though.

As for flying with the auto-pilot off, she is a joy to hand-fly and very responsive. The cherokee I was flying before I found her was like flying a dead log. As for fun-flying for sight-seeing, I do a ton of that. I do, however, do the long trips as well. She has been perfect for both.

The only time it is hot in the cabin is on the ground taxiing and doing run-up in August when it is in the 85+ range here in Pittsburgh. As soon as you take off, the air comes in vents and the aircraft is more than comfortable. I usually leave the door open on the ground during that 2-3 week hot period/year until I am ready to make my ‘ready for take-off’ call. Not sure where you are from, but if you live in the south, the heat on the ground would be more of an issue. But you will also have the same heat issue on the ground with the cessnas and pipers unless you are fortunate enough to have A/C.

Loud in the cabin? The quietest single engine I’ve been in. I do have good headsets. Maybe that helps? One of the comments I get from other pilots when they first fly with me is how quiet she is.

Continental engine? I’ve had NO issues with mine. Like the energizer bunny. Takes a licking and keeps on ticking. I even air race mine and run it to full throttle for thousands of miles. She loves it.

My chute repack comes due this spring, so I can’t address that yet.

Also, I will say unequivocally that having looked at and test-flown numerous aircraft prior to purchasing my Cirrus, the decision to buy her was the best.decision.ever. I have never looked back and don’t have a single regret. Kinda like winning the lottery…

I am living in Pittsburgh (PA) and have a place in For Myers FL, so I am in FL periodically. If you are handy to either, we could arrange to meet to go flying so you can see first hand. You could also see if there are other COPA members more handy to your location to meet up with, or even go find a local place that does dual instruction in Cirrus so you can do some actual flying to dispel the rumors you are hearing and decide for yourself. If you have specific questions, fire away as it appears mine is the vintage you are looking for, so I could probably answer questions based on my experience. Please feel free to PM me as well, in case I miss your responses here.

Hope you have good luck finding your new bird, I enjoyed the search and hope you do as well!


I joined COPA about a year before I bought my plane (and also joined BeechTalk to learn more about A-36 Bonanzas). The annual dues were well worth it to get access to all of the information about the airplane. It made the purchase decision much easier and I was a lot better informed when it came time to actually make offers on planes. I’ll add to the list of people who have commented that you are better off joining before you buy rather than on the day you buy.

Still, my priorities would be: spend $250 on some dual instruction in a Cirrus (any Cirrus of any generation, although the closer to what you are looking to buy, the better), then spend $65 on a COPA membership if you like what you see, then spend $100K+ on a plane if that goes well. However, if you do it right, you may find that the $65 COPA membership gets you access to someone in your local area who will give you a ride in their plane and take care of the first priority that way without spending the $250.

Still, all of this is way cheap compared to the act of buying a plane.


I’ve flown an SR-20 since 2003, when I purchased it from the factory. Folks will weigh in on your question from far and wide, with a variety of backgrounds and experiences. All come from a good place. But do note that these posts are responses to how you’ve specifically posed your question. Since you seem to be interested in making an informed decision, you’ll do better to get the 360-degree view achievable by reading member responses to others’ question, plus discussion directly on issues mentioned in your post. Being routinely visited by bouts of poundfoolishitis, I empathize with anyone’s reluctance to shell out sixty-five bucks. But considered against the overall outlay, the ROI isn’t simply worth it, it’s ridiculously, absurdly, high.

You should also feel free to call me if you feel more comfortable privately voicing rather than publicly typing out questions. My phone number is listed on the member’s directory.

I bought a new Cirrus in December 2002. It was the last of the SR22 models without the PFD, so it was relatively old in terms of design and hadn’t been fully shaken out yet. So, while mine was a SR22 (not SR20), my experience is probably apropos to what you can expect. So, in order of your comments:

Not my experience. I had a lot of maintenance year one for shake-down kinds of things (and an occasional AD or SB), but nowhere near 3-4 months. And after that it has been as reliable as any other SE plane I am aware of (like my 1982 182 or other friends aircraft. A more likely prognosis is that you’ll do oil changes 2-3 times a year, an annual ($3,000-$5,000), and perhaps one other thing. Figure 3-4 weeks max.

This is not entirely false. My old 182 was less squirrelly in the air, no question. Trimming is harder due to the too-fast servos attached to the coolie-hat trim controls. And, no rudder trim. But, let’s put this in perspective. First, it is also a WAY more responsive aircraftt. On sightseeing flights it is a blast. Second, if you practice you WILL be able to trim it up just fine.

I don’t want to gloss over this point because it is a bit more work to keep straight and level and oncourse without the A/P. My personal minimums were I would not take off on an IFR flight without the AP. But that is not say I couldn’t fly IMC without the AP … I did it all the time.

But, VFR, it is no trouble at all and lots of fun.

It is an AWESOME long-haul aircraft. One of the best. But, don’t think that means it is not a great $100 hamburger aircraft. It is also great for that.

Too hot? No hotter than a 182. And it is easy to get above the heat.

It is, but again, compared to what? My 182 was as well. Are there SE aircraft that are not? With noise canceling headsets this is a non-issue.

That has not been my experience. If you join COPA learn about running lean of peak and I think you’ll find that your engine will be very reliable indeed. Plus, you can tell your friends your are running LOP and they’ll go crazy!

Should be more than enough.

I’ll let a SR20 driver answer that one.

Now, here is what you haven’t mentioned …

  1. Amazing visibility. It is almost like flying a helicopter. You mentioned flight-seeing … this is a great platform for that.

  2. Situational awareness. I know of no aircraft with better avionics in terms which lead to excellent situational awareness. Some are just as good, but not better. But, make sure you get the Avidyne, not the Arnav (IMHO). Best would be Avidyne with the PFD.

  3. The parachute. Rick Beach can provide the actual numbers, but there are quite a few Cirrus pilots and families walking around today because of the parachute. I know there are plenty of naysayers when it comes to the parachute, but here is a great example. One of our early members had an undiagnosed brain tumor and passed out in flight. He woke up disoriented in a descent. He regained control, but realized he had no idea why he had passed out or whether it would happen again. Easy decision, he pulled the chute and is alive today.

Another story … a Canadian pilot took off with 3 friends over the Canadian Rockies at night in extremely windy conditions. He flipped on A/P and dialed in a climb. My suspicion is he didn’t have his foot on the rudder and suddenly, in a strong downdraft, flipped into a spin caused by an A/P stall. At night. Over the Rockies. He pulled the chute and lived to sue Cirrus! Sure, he made some egregious mistakes, but because of the chute he didn’t pay for them with his life (nor did his friends). Instead he used his cell phone to call for help.

  1. Ramp appeal. Yeah, this doesn’t matter ([:)]). But nonetheless, the Cirrus is a great looking aircraft. Think Lexus versus Chevy Vega.

  2. COPA. Really. This is the best owners group of any aircraft.

Good luck!

Which requires joining COPA to get to. Very sneaky! I like it!

Okay. Okay! I’m a member!!! One of those things that you never really think about. Thanks for your input and advice. Hopefully before long I will be a proud Cirrus Owner.

I Joined! Thank you for your advice. I own a Hangar at one of Wisconsin Aviation’s Airports (Dodge County (KUNU). Only a 15 minute flight to the Watertown Cirrus Service Center. I have already been in contact with them and they seem very nice and knowledgeable. I actually live closer to Madison so I might be looking to move the plane down here.

Thanks! The $10K figure I had did not include Fuel. I own my own Hangar and operating expenses on that are roughly $1800 annually. I thinking with the amount of flying I do the fuel could be between $5K & $10K…hopefully closer to 10K which would mean I’m flying more!

I am already in contact with Jim and he has been a wealth of information. I plan to take my Cirrus Transition Class with him. So do you think if I fly the the 22 it would be a good representation of the 20? I was thinking of doing that next week.

Thanks Again!

And Tony . . . COPA isn’t Cirrus. We don’t “sell” Cirrus Aircraft. We are owners. We don’t get a commission to be nice or encourage ownership. Don’t be shy (after you’ve looked for the answers) to ask for help and insite.

Welcome aboard

Oh, you cut me deep! I get it and I’ve joined. I’ve done more research than I posted but the post was long enough as it was. I really didn’t want to get into my life story…I have only had the privilege of being friends with one person whom has owned both a 20 and a 22. After all the research I have done I felt it was time to ask more current owners. To be fair, I have not MET a Cirrus owner that did not love the plane. But, I think I would be a fool for not posting these very valid concerns to those people that fly them the most. In hind sight, I should have joined first, then asked the question. For that I apologize.

Have a great Sunday and I hope to be flying a Cirrus very shortly!


Thanks for the great information! I did not include fuel in my budget, nor did I include payments/interest, I was more thinking only about maintenance issues.

I was leaning the same way on the prop.



Glad to see you joined COPA.

If the $10K/year doesn’t include fuel and you own your hangar then your estimate is probably reasonable. Just be aware that if you buy a plane that is almost 10 years old, then you have a big service bill coming in the near future when the parachute needs servicing. As long as you have your eyes open, I wouldn’t let it scare you away from those planes, just factor that in to what you can afford to pay.

Jim at Wisconsin Aviation did my transition class and I was very happy with it. As for renting a 22 to simulate a 20, it depends on what you want to learn. Its the same fuselage, similar avionics package (if you find a similar vintage aircraft), and very similar control feel. Climb performance is a lot better in the 22 and that won’t be a realistic depiction of a 20. In flight, you could throttle the 22 back to produce a similar amount of power to a 20 to cruise around as if you had the 200hp engine. Ideally I’d recommend finding the closest plane to what you plan to buy, but I’d also compromise on what is easiest for you to get time in. Flying a 22 isn’t perfect but you’ll still learn a lot and Jim can probably count that as the start of your transition training.

Wisconsin Aviation used to have an identical aircraft to my SR22 at Watertown. It was a 2002 model with the 6-pack panel with Sandel HSI and it was G1 model which is the era of SR20 you are looking at. I’m not sure if that plane is still available for rent, but if it is, that might be the closest you can find easily if they don’t have a 20 at any of their locations.

Enjoy the test flight.

In everything except cruise speed, climb rate and takeoff roll, yes. I’ve got about equal time in both, they’re wonderful planes. Those extra 110 hp in the '22 are really nice though, especially on hot days. If you are aiming for a '20 but can only test-fly a '22, make sure you’re prepared for the performance differences–mostly from a pilot satisfaction perspective–when you buy the '20.


Welcome to COPA. The information on the member side is amazing. As one of our former COPA presidents once said, it’s like drinking from a fire hose in there.