Just got back from my Cirrus demo flight. What a plane! Simply wonderful.
Watched it land and taxi up to the GA ramp at Martin State Airport in Baltimore at 9 AM sharp on a beautiful VFR day.
The airplane looks great on the ramp and appears much bigger in person than it does in photos.
Got a walk around brief from Bruce Gunter, the (salesman/demo pilot) pointing out all the unique features, but my principal impression was of the great fit and finish. Everything’s perfect. This was aircraft #20 and was a full production model. It had the baseline avionics (A Series) with only altitude hold and a leather interior added.
The interior is just as it appears in the pictures – no disappointment there at all. The Arnav display is much better than I expected after reading some criticism of it on the SR20.org website. Looks good and has lots of useful info. The Bruce seemed to use it much more than he did the GPS’s display. One negative here though: Bruce said that it only gets it’s position from the GNS-430, so if that fails you loose all position info on the ARNAV. It seems to me that it would be a relatively simple matter to allow the backup GPS to feed it if necessary. Otherwise you will lose your two best situational displays at once if the 430 fails.
Start, taxi, runup and takeoff were straightforward. The engine is not as smooth as the old Franklin in my Siai-Marchetti (but it did start right up!). The noise level was better, though. The sideyoke became natural at once. The plane handles very nicely. VERY responsive, especially in roll. I was amazed that even a slight twitch of the wrist was translated immediately to the airframe. Gotta be smooth there. But it’s also very stable. Let go of the controls in a 30 degree angle of bank turn and it just stays there – no tendency to either roll out or increase the bank.
The visibility is great, as you’d expect. The seating position for me seemed a little awkward. I’m about 5’ 7" tall so I needed the seat pretty far forward to reach the rudder pedals. I settled on a compromise between stretching a bit for the brakes and having the sideyoke fall nicely to hand, but the power lever seemed a bit too far aft to my liking. I know I’ll get used to it, especially since I tend to sit further forward when I’m new to an airplane than I do later on. As to the single lever control, Bruce warned me that it took a bit of getting used to – it’s quite notchy. You can really feel it in the lever when the prop portion comes into play – the resistance increases quite a bit when it does. Also, the power changes at different rates as the level moves through the various prop controlling ranges. I was able to do pretty well with it, but I’ll reserve judgment as to whether a separate prop level might be a better solution, all things considered.
The electric trim works great, though Bruce said that some people have a little trouble getting used to it. (It seemed very easy and natural to me because I’ve flow military planes with the same sort of coolie-hat setup before.) One criticism, though, is that I think rudder trim would be very nice to have.
Slow flight and stalls were straightforward and the roll authority, even in a full stall, was amazing.
I shot two landings. The first I was high and fast and I had a little trouble getting it down. (Bruce said it was best to carry some power around but I guess I overdid it. Landed about 3000 feet down a 6000 foot runway, but at least it was smooth (thanks in large part to Bruce’s coaching). The next one was much better after I concentrated on not getting fast, but I a tended to flare a little high (again Bruce talked me down nicely). I can see where with a bit of practice the landings will be a snap.
During the postflight walkaround Bruce mentioned that the landing light is going to be moved from its current position in the left cowl intake to a dual light setup behind a new plexiglass window in the lower front of the cowl. He said this was being done to isolate the light(s) better from the engine vibration and to reduce prop reflection glare. He said Cirrus would eventually like to move them to the wings, but that’s well down the road (if at all).
My last item was to check out the back seat room. Very nice and comfortable back there. Feet are a little cramped behind the cross-wing spar but better than most GA aircraft.
All in all a very delightful morning.