My 1 1/2 hour with the Columbia 300

I know there seems to be much interest in both planes and not many Cirrus owners have had the chance ‘to fly’ the 300. I met with them yesterday morning and thought I would post my reaction to ‘their comparison’. For the record, I’ll ‘know better’ after I fly a 22. Here is Barbara’s email to me and my reply below. This will also give you an idea where Lance feels superior (there is more but she didn’t post) as well:

Thank you so much for the opportunity to demonstrate our Lancair Columbia 300. You did a great job in a fairly complex airplane! ( Better landing than Mark!!) I would love to get your comments when you have a moment.

Here are some items I wanted to jot down for you as you take the time to next demo the SR22:

  1. The Columbia is controllable ( ailerons included) in all corners of the flight envelope in the stall, including uncoordinated flight. The Cirrus could not meet even normal spin recovery requirements. That is why they must have a current (10) year CAPS on board in order to fly the airplane legally. Which one would you rather be in on a tight turn to final approach?

Our doors are clearly superior easier to operate, we are more stable as an IFR Country Platform in Turbulence. Our Columbia is dual spar which can withstand design limits loads in the utility category.

Columbia has a lower stall speed than the SR22, our flap speed is 25kts higher, 130 vs 104kts for the first notch. Much better manners in the pattern.

Redundancy in that the airplane can be flown/landed using the trim.

The Cirrus nose gear is designed to displace along its column so on a rough field , the gear tends to “stick” and resist the airplane, likely to cause damage. The Columbia, as we mentioned during our demo displaces up vertically when it hits a bump.

As you also found out today The Columbia Power Level is 2700 rpm, our engine is capable of 350HP but we limit to 310.

Our structural integrity, fit and finish of leather and accessories are far superior as you mentioned it is the Mercedes of the high performance category in every way!!

I look forward to hearing your comments good and not so good, they are important to me and to Lancair. I want you to test fly the airplane again after you finish your SR22 demonstration. I will be happy to block off a couple of hours for you!!

Best regards,
Barbara Lisiewski
Lancair Mid Atlantic/Lancair Southeast LLC
office 757-877-4977 cell 757-344-4597 fax


A couple of negatives to an otherwise terrific plane:

  1. the seat as ‘upright’ is reclined too far . I have minor arthritis in my back and felt it tightening because I had to sit up unsupported and ‘reach for the stick’. If I had moved my seat closer, my legs would have been too cramped.
  2. The visibliity was much less than the Cirrus but probably because of more support structure across the top.
  3. The center beam that holds the reading lights is an unwelcome structure and seems to reduce the size of the interior…when I looked over at Mark, it seems I had to lower my head. I can’t imagine anyone taller than me being comfortable in the pilot seat. It ‘seems’ the front cockpit is smaller than the Cirrus and although beautifully appointed, not nearly as comfortable to me.
  4. Besides having to ‘reach’ for the stick, the movement seemed heavy to me and I had to ‘work it’. I also felt to be comfortable with the stick you had to hit the trim after every move. Others have complained about this as well on the Lancair pilot’s site. I now know what they mean.
  5. The absense of BRS it still an issue for me. When I was 4, mom said it was difficult for me to give up my ‘security blanket’. At 43, I still have this problem!

But, the planes features, interior appointments/decor and structure seem superior to the Cirrus and it was incredibly smooth and vibration free. I could tell I was flying what seemed to be a stronger plane than my cirrus sr20. I am wondering if the 22 is going to ‘feel stronger’ than the 20 because of the increased weight. AS far as overall ‘sex appeal’, it is a toss up.
I appreciate your offer to return after I test fly the 22…We’ll book a few hours so I can go over the machine in more detail.
Don Rennie

Hi Don,

Thanks for your post. I am surprised to see an official representative from Lancair make so many negative comments about the Cirrus. I would hope that the Cirrus sales reps don’t say the same sorts of negative things about the Lancair - they’re both fine planes and I don’t really think either should have to talk negatively about the other in order to make a sale.

I wonder how the Cirrus folks handle it when someone comes up to them trying to decide between the Cirrus and Columbia. Hopefully they’re able to sell more on the benefits of the Cirrus rather than the negatives of the Lancair.

Anyway, most of what she said was subjective, but when you speak again, you may want to correct one factual point she got wrong:

Columbia has a lower stall speed than the SR22, our flap speed is 25kts higher, 130 vs 104kts for the first notch.

The first notch of flaps in the SR20/22 is actually deployable at 120 kts, not 104. (104 is the full flap operating speed, but first notch are available at 120 kts.) So it’s really just a 10 kt difference, not 25.


My understanding is NOT that Cirrus COULD not meet spin requirements but rather that because of the BRS they chose to use that method to meet the requirements. I do know that during my training the ailerons were effective all the way to the stall.
It’s also my understanding (although I admit I’m not sure) that the Cirrus was tested and did demonstrate normal spin recovery using standard techniques. It just didn’t go through the FAA spin certification because of the parachute. Again, this is what I’ve heard. I do not know that as a fact.
Nonetheless, while I’m sure the 300 is a great airplane I think that giving clearly incorrect information about the competition (like the 50% flap speed that really is 119 KIAS) is very poor form.

When you take your demo-flight with both manufacturers, try stalls with C-G at the forward end of the envelope. A better test is without alot of “brochures” or heavy tow bars etc in the baggage compartment or backseat passengers.


I think it’s an indication of a severe lack of self-esteem on Lancair’s part that they find it necessary to denigrate the Cirrus aircraft, particularly with misleading or just plain inaccurate information. It’s reminiscent of Lance Neibauer’s reported comments about the CAPS, so I suspect that the immature attitude stems from the top. Lance, and Lancair, should just relax and accept that they have achieved a tremendous amount with both the kitplanes and the Columbia, sell it on its merits, and stop thinking they have to chase and badmouth Cirrus.

Rule #1; never mention the competition
Rule #2; if you have to mention them, find something positive to say, then repeat rule #1.

It seems that the Lancair is a fantastically engineered airplane. Hopefully the GA market will be able to sustain both. If not, I suspect we will see a VHS/Betamax denoument. It is clear that Cirrus has a dominant lead in production and marketing, while Lancair has a better engineered product (except for BRS).

I suspect that Lancair’s strength in kitplanes has cut both ways in their introduction of the Columbia. Their experience has clearly helped in the engineering of the aircraft. But I suspect that fact that they have a viable kitplane business has pulled urgency from the launch of the Columbia. For Cirrus launch of the SR’s has been do or die and has commanded every resource of the corporation. Lancair has had to divide their efforts between the two businesses, and delays to Columbia volume production haven’t been life or death. But it has cost them market leadership.


ALL YOUR POSTS WERE OUTSTANDING. Nothing needs to be sold they way they were/are selling it! I remained professional, they weren’t…
But, if it weren’t for all those dam cirrus squawks, they’d have much, much less. Cirrus can and must do better and not give the competition ‘the opportunity’ to bash them.
My points in my reply to her was to let them know…'you ain’t all that! I could have puked on their leather interior from ‘all the good about their plane and what cirrus doesn’t have’. As I said in a private email to Brig…if its THAT good, you never have to sell it that way!
I can’t wait to test fly the 22 and maybe shoot a little more back their way! Anybody around Va. who wants to show off their ‘machine’, I’ll be able to reply more quickly!


 In regards to Lancair and their "sales" technique I find that their "way" is in poor taste. When I go car shopping the salesman extoles the virtues of their product and points outs the "special features" that their vehicle may have and vica versa. The saleman knows better than to berate another car manufacture especially when he is trying to make a sale. Why mention the other product when that just leaves the image of the competition in the mind of the buyer. It would have been different if you would have asked for them to point out the differences in the two aircraft. If you would have asked the least that they could have done was to give you the correct info. As pilots, aircraft owners and purchasers we tend to be as a whole, intelligent and educated people. (Yes there are exceptions to this as there are exceptions to everything) Most of us in comparing the two (or more) products would more than likely already be aware of the differences (pros-cons) in the different aircraft we are considering. As far as the front gear is concerned, Lancair may have an advantage due to design over the Cirri in "rough field" conditions, however how often have you taken your 20/22 into a grass strip? Is that even a valid issue? Also due to their design being a "conventional" oleo strut would it not be prone to more maintenance issues than the Cirri gear?

 In regards to the certification/spin issue I'm not sure how much of an advantage that the utility category would be except for the higher G limits. IMO that does not in itself make for a safer aircraft. Also, even "normal" category aircraft are tested beyond what would be their expected design limits and a margin of safety is built in to those design limits. It is also my understanding that Lancair went about the spin certification differently than Cirrus. I believe that Lancair uses a "limiter" to control the amount of rudder that can be applied in certain situations i.e. low airspeed etc. and I believe that this "limiter" is what Lancair used in the certification of their spin resistant design. I personally don't want to have any of my control surfaces limited in their travel when I may need them, stall/spin recovery, cross wind landings etc. I would want to have the ability to apply the full amount of control surface movement and not be "limited" because the plane "thinks" I meet or don't meet certain requirements.

 I have had the pleasure of flying a SR20 and it is without a doubt the most advanced and safest aircraft I have ever had the privilege of flying (not to mention its sexy good looks). I have not had a chance to fly a Lancair production or other wise so I can't compare the two, but as you say Don I would have a hard time giving up my security blanket!

Everything you said is correct Don. Some salespeople will say anything to get a sale, even if it’s is not true. Shame on Lancair. Spin recovery was not required in the Cirrus, but it is the same as the Columbia on spin recovery. Lying about that and the flap speed makes everything they say suspect to me.

I don’t think the Lancair salesperson was being dishonest. Early models of the SR20 had a max speed of 101 knots for 50% flaps. You can say that the Cirrus spin recovery is the same as the Columbia, but my SR20 POH says very clearly the only spin recovery in the SR20 is the parachute.

I don’t think the Lancair salesperson was being dishonest. Early models of the SR20 had a max speed of 101 knots for 50% flaps.


This salesperson was making a comparison with the SR22, not an early-model (serial numbers 1005 through 1019) SR20. A salesperson who’s going to make comparisons needs to get his or her facts straight.

The Lancair folks make a superb product that should sell itself. It saddens me to hear that some of them feel they have to denigrate the competition to make a sale.


i was wondering why they had all that shit back there for an hour flight up to Richmond!

A data-point on Cirrus/Lancair differences. When I was doing the reporting for my airplane book, I (obviously) went to Duluth a number of times, but I also went to the Lancair factory, took a test flight, and interviewed Lance N.

The data point: in dozens of hours of on-the-record interviews and off-the-record conversations, no one from Cirrus slammed the Lancair airplane.

In my few hours at Lancair, slams at the Cirrus airplanes were a recurrent theme. (Slams at Cirrus customers part of this theme too – what kind of wimps are they, if they pay attention to the parachute.)

The Lancair airplane is very nice, but this cultural difference weighed (for me) in Cirrus’s favor – including a number of not-quite-fairly stated comparisons, from the erroneous “flap speed” previously mentioned to Lancair’s insistence on advertising its speed in MPH rather than Kts. And, in any fair comparison, the Lancair planes cost more.

Again, both very nice airplanes, but the cultural difference in promoting them is dramatic.

Jim: In my less than scientific perception and without many person to person experiences, I agree with you. Here is what I see.

Lancair seems to feel that speed is the holy grail. Speed at all costs.

Cirrus looks at safety, comfort and ease of flight first. Then speed.

Lancair, their sales force and buyers seem to sell negatively, especially against the Cirrus. If you read the Lancair club BB on Yahoo, there are numerous threads which just tear the Cirrus to shreds, even one continual theme by a distributor. And, for some reason, accuracy is not valued in this conversation. One of the silliest comments is that Cirrus has sold more planes because they’ve tried harder! How can that be a knock against a commercial manufacturer?

(Apparently, a Lancair Sales rep or distributor typically shows up at west coast Cirrus fly-ins. While I have no problem having them join us, and for the record would love to have a few joint, regional fly-ins, ‘crashing’ the party seems to be an overly aggressive and seemingly desperate sales strategy.)

Cirrus would rather sell their airplanes on their merits.

I have always stated that these two airplanes are probably the best single engine GA aircraft made today. Both want to advance the state of technology in the industry, and by-in-large, have been very successful at it. Furthermore, What is good for one manufacturer is good for the industry and the opposite is always true. A good product can be sold on its merits, not by bad mouthing the competition. But selling by pointing out real, perceived or fictional weaknesses in the competition is a loser, for all. Both companies would do better by working together to promote GA.

For the record, I think Cirrus Design supports “Be a pilot”, the Lindburgh Anniversary as being a major sponsor, and probably numerous initiatives that I am not aware of.

My $0.02



And just to complete the record, I spent a good deal of time with the Diamond folks when I was considering the DA-40. They were extremely complimentary about both the Cirrus and the Lancair. They are suffering from the same disease as Lancair in their marketing: lack of urgency. Both Lancair and Diamond have ongoing businesses without their 4 seater certificated planes. Cirrus too is discovering it is very hard for small companies to do more than 1 thing well. Fortunately we are customers of their 1 good thing!


For the record, I think Cirrus Design supports “Be a pilot”, the Lindburgh Anniversary as being a major sponsor, and probably numerous initiatives that I am not aware of.

I’ve just started seeing a couple ads which have something to do with the Lindbergh foundation, and Cirrus being a major sponsor (even giving a free 1-year lease of an SR22 to a winner) – don’t remember the specifics of the promotion, though.

Interestingly enough, Lindburgh’s grandson, who will be “recreating” the famous transatlantic flight (only with GPS, satellite phone, etc. this time!) chose a Columbia 300 to make the flight!

No, I don’t really have any point in this message, but just thought it was interesting…


Steve is correct - Cirrus Design is a major sponsor of the Spirit of St. Louis 75th Anniversary. (Like our airplanes, Charles Lindbergh was born in Minnesota.) Alan K. is the Honorary Lead Pilot for a part of the celebration called Landings for Lindbergh. According to The Charles A. and Anne Lindbergh Foundation web site, “Pilots across the country and around the world will celebrate Lindbergh’s accomplishments, and all that is good about aviation on May 18, 2002, the Saturday before the 75th anniversary of his non-stop, solo flight across the Atlantic. They’ll fly and land their aircraft at airports everywhere.” For details, including how to participate and contribute, here.
According to an ad in the February 2002 issue of Flying (page 78), as part of their sponsorship of this event, Cirrus Design is providing the Lindbergh Foundation with a free one-year dry lease, including transition training, on a new SR22. The Foundation will award the lease to a lucky pilot to be selected at random on May 31, 2002. For more information, call (763) 576-1596. The ad also points out that you can enter the drawing (open to licensed pilots only) by sending a 3" x 5" card with your name, address, e-mail address, phone number, and pilot registration number to
The Lindbergh Foundation
2150 3rd Avenue North #310
Anoka MN 55303
Sorry, only one entry per person!
As part of the 75th anniversary, this would be a wonderful year to read (or re-read) Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, published by the Minnesota Historical Society.

Another “must read” is the relatively new biography, “Lindbergh”, by A. Scott Berg.
It’s a fascinating book about a fascinating and controversial man.

Pilots everywhere flying on May 18 to commemorate Lindbergh. Hmmm, lots of people dusting off those old licences. And the pattern is nutty on a regular Saturday!