New Pilot Confused on Plane Purchase

Hi, I’m just about to finish up my private pilot - hoping to get a check ride in by the end of November. I would like to buy a plane before starting on my IFR, which I want to get going on right away. I’ve been really intrigued by Cirrus, but am not sure if it’s the right plane for me.

I intend to use the plane for vacation and weekend travel with my family of 4 (kids are about adult size, with the 4 of us weighing in at about 670 lbs), as well as occasional business trips and joy rides. As far as range goes, we’d like to make it at least 400 nm on a tank of fuel. I’d love to have something that would do 200 ktas, but it may be out of reach in terms of price once the wife weighs in.

I have friends encouraging me to look at the M20, but I’ve also thought about a Piper Cherokee 6 or Lance. I’m also open to other suggestions. Another consideration, which I’m unsure about, is how much of a factor fixed or retractable gear will play into insurance costs, especially for a new pilot who trained in a C172.

If I do go with a Cirrus, the next question is new or used, and then which model. I’m worried that I’d be disappointed with the SR20, but am unsure if the difference in cost between the SR22 and 22T would be worth it (or affordable).

Any thoughts, suggestions, or insight would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance and looking forward to earning my wings very soon.


i would do some serious reflection on the benefits of the chute. For me, I would not regularly fly a piston plane without one, especially a traveling plane, rather than one that primarily flies around the pattern.

You can control weather related go no-go decisions, and many other factors that affect your safety. But you cannot control an engine failure. An engine failure in daytime VMC is a challenge. Throw in IMC or night and, in my opinion, chances of survival are slim without a chute.

Read the Beechtalk forums over the past 6 months. They have had a very unfortunate series of tragedies while Cirrus fatals are remarkably low, much of which I attribute to Rick Beach’s success with his Pull Early campaign.

Good luck in your decision.


Join copa.

I joined in November 2003 so I could learn about Cirrus. At that time, there were 20,000 posts (at least). I read most of them and learned a lot. Two months later, I put down a deposit for a new plane. I was sure that was the plane I wanted to own.

It’s a great time, full of possibility, the adventures just about to unfold.

Good luck, and be careful.

Here you’ll get advice from all quarters, mostly comes down to “Do what I did. I love it!”

Which is a good sign- everybody did something different, almost everybody is happy, so you can’t go wrong.

After you get your PPL, rent a couple different kinds of plane, and take your wife. See what she likes, and what you like.

I don’t think a Mooney is going to fit the four of you and much gas…though they are fast.

The SR 20 is going to be tough if you want to put 670 lbs of people in it.

A Lance, especially a turbo Lance, will be comfortable and reasonably speedy, and 670 and pretty full fuel is possible.

Cherokee 6s can carry the four of you and some cousins- a little slower, but a very stable instrument platform- it’s a good plane to get an IR in, because of that stability. You can trim them so precisely they’ll fly with your feet on the floor, hands in your lap- a very useful thing when you are overworked on an instrument approach.

200 knots is going to require a 22T up high, or a twin. But what’s the rush- 175 is plenty, and opens up more angles. People who live and fly around the brown chart districts, with altitude and DA problems, may need 22T’s, otherwise the NA models are fine.

I trained in a 172, and bought a used SR20 for instrument training and learning how to fly for real, later upgraded to a normally aspirated SR 22 because my wife said I could.

My vote for you? Used SR 22, G2 model. Pretty good price range, pretty good useful load, pretty fast, pretty much all the plane you’ll ever need.

Good Luck!

And get the IR ASAP.

CAPS. Make it the top of the decision tree and the rest is easy. Those who own Mooneys or the like are trapped by the momentum of ownership. You aren’t. Piston engine singles have inherent risks that fresh eyes can see clearly. CAPS mitigates almost all of those attributable to the airplane.

The old saying goes “Insurance goes up with the gear”.

An SR22 G2 will give you about 60 gallons of fuel when you have the whole family of board. That’s a range of about 4 hours (When leaned properly). Assuming no wind you will easily be able to travel 400 NM

The SR22 will true out between 165 and 175 kts when running Lean of Peak.

Please feel free to join COPA. (Click Here) I promise you will get your money’s worth the first day. Lots of content is the members only section which can help you make a decision.

I agree that a SR20 may not fit your mission

Good Luck!!


Your situation and mission profile is identical to mine in 2007 down to the last detail except that I live in the UK. [:D]

Shortly after getting my PPL, I travelled to the US to buy my aircraft and do my instrument rating which I did with the Flight Academy who also helped me with the purchase of the aircraft.

The logic that I followed when I bought my aircraft was that the SR 20 was not powerful enough for what I wanted but that, because I live in Western Europe and don’t fly much in mountainous areas, nor do I have the sort of serious thunderstorms that you get in parts of the US, a normally aspirated SR 22 was the right choice, given its lower cost and easier maintenance. I have never regretted that decision.

I would also emphasise strongly the point made in an earlier post about the CAPS system. Whenever I fly with my family, it is very reassuring to know that if something happens to me, they will almost certainly be okay.

Although I have only ever pulled the parachute in a simulator, when I fly on my own it is still reassuring to know that it’s there and on the two occasions when I have had an in-flight emergency, although in both cases I landed the aircraft safely on an airport, I was very glad to know the I had CAPS available if I had needed it and actively considered using it throughout both emergencies.

By the way, one of the earlier posters to this thread actually has used CAPS for real and I am sure would confirm what I write here. There are over fifty others who would say the same.

i bought a G2 from a COPA member and it worked out perfect for my family of four.

My family of four weighs 600 and with 70 pounds of bags I can still load up 56 gallons of fuel. If we need to go farther I just ship our luggage and add it back in fuel. Shipping the luggage usually ends up being pretty nice as we can send larger heavier stuff and we invariably buy stuff while there.

My G2 has a useful of 1005 pounds and has AC. If you don’t need the AC then you can save another 80 pounds or so. I prefer to ship stuff and stay cool Here in Oklahoma.

At full Gross I usually cruse at the high 160s when light I’ll see 170-172 knots true LOP. Not bad.

400 miles should be an easy trip for your required load in a G2

I have upgraded mine, done some refurb to the panel and interior just to make it mine. G2 price point puts it at a place where it was no stress to own and I can fly it and maintain itl upgrade it to be as nice as a newer model. For my usual load I couldn’t use the bigger fuel tanks of a G3 anyway And 4.5 hours range is all we can stand anyway before we wanna take a break.

good luck on your shopping and Join COPA you will make that 65 bucks back in spades by better decisions.

Given your load requirements (which probably are pretty hard to change), the best choices in the Cirrus line are a G5 or a NA G2. Big difference in price, but the G5 is a nicer plane. The SR-22T will give you 200Kts, but you will have to breathe oxygen to get it. Given your payload requirements, you will have difficulty with a T-model that isn’t a G5. The difference between 200Kts and 170Kts on a 400 nm trip is about 20 minutes.

My missions are similar to yours, and we opted for the G2. Cirrus built a lot of G2 aircraft, so there is plentiful supply now at reasonable prices. Round numbers, I would figure about 40 gallons for a 400 nm trip. I’d like to have 18 gallons in the tanks afterward, so that 58*6 = 342 lbs. At 670+342 = 1012. A G2 with a useful load of 1050 will carry 38 lbs of luggage (11 lbs and a full TKS tank). For my missions, useful load was my starting point.

Based on recent safety data, it appears that the combination of the strong safety culture and the parachute are giving Cirrus owners a higher level of safety compared to other aircraft of similar performance and missions. When carrying the familty, safety is my top priority.

Insurance on any high performance plane will be expensive until you get more hours and an instrument rating. But a lot of the cost is based on hull value, so a less expensive plane will help keep the cost down in the beginning.

If you are willing to give up speed, the Cessna 182 might be attractive. It’s a great family hauler and can meet your other requirements. It will fly a lot like the 172 that you learned in, but it’s noticeable slower than the Cirrus. There is an aftermarket parachute available for that aircraft.

My final comment is that the my wife and children really like the Cirrus. I would suggest you test fly anything you are interested in with your wife.

I agree with William: G2. I have a G3 TN and useful load is 940 lbs., and I don’t have AC. The AC would drop me well below 900 lbs. G5s are great, if you want to spend $850k. (Personally, for that kind of money, I’d rather have half of a Meridian or an Eclipse than all of a G5.)

All light aircraft involve trade-offs between range, payload, and speed. However, only the Cirrus offers CAPS. I won’t fly in a piston single without it, and I won’t fly in a piston twin with anyone who doesn’t fly that model twin for a living. Piston aircraft engines are reliable, but not reliable enough to bet your life on for hours at a time. We’re all vulnerable in the first and last 1000’ of altitude. Non-Cirrus drivers are just about as vulnerable in all phases of flight at night, in IMC, or over mountainous terrain. Additionally, any of us can make a mistake in IMC or hit wake turbulence or get into weather we shouldn’t have. CAPS gives you an out you don’t have in other planes.

The range, payload and almost the speed you want can be found in a turbo Bonanza. Those planes provide great utlity. Until something goes wrong at night, in IMC or in night IMC. People are dying in Bonanzas at an alarming rate. I’ll bet there are a lot of Bonanza owners who would be in a Cirrus but for the inertia of ownership. I don’t hear of any Cirrus drivers trading to a Bonanza. All that said, show your wife a couple of CAPS videos, and the Cirrus vs not-Cirrus decision will be made.

Good luck.

My mission profile was/is very similar to yours. The four of us come in around 515#s so I can fly four with full fuel. To the tabs I can add some over night bags. I bought a G2 for a great price and have not looked back. I came from a C177, which could almost not be over-loaded. However, I also went from 125k to 165k (that is what I flightplan but often fly at 175k or better) on little fuel for the additional speed. You are getting some great advice here…


You are in really a great place right now and have gotten a lot of good advice. The only thing that I would add from what was said in the replys to date is the following:

If you are the kind of person that wants to drive a sportscar instead of the towncar then a Cirrus is the way to go. We went from a Cessna Skylane to the SR22 G2 because we wanted to get where we were going faster plus the G2 for me is just a lot more fun to fly! The longer we have had it the more I enjoy getting in it! The side yoke for me makes the instrument scan easier and is not claustrophobic like a Mooney.

Good luck and enjoy flying,



You’ve come to the right place to hear about Cirrus models! [:D] Like many of our members, I’ve owned and flown several other aircraft. So, let me throw out some thoughts based on your projected use model:

  • For most people, the Mooney interior is cramped. I owned an M20K - great plane, handles beautifully, and was quite fast (turbocharged) on only 210 HP. But, it was basically a 2-person plane, three at the most. That’s from space and W&B points-of-view.
  • I have no experience in a Lance - nice ramp appeal though.
  • A Cherokee 6 can certainly carry your family and then some! And, the entire family of Cherokees is easy to fly. But, they aren’t very speedy… Depending upon the engine (260 vs. 300), the plane might fly ~135 ktas. Maybe. Newer models probably go faster … and cost more.
    From a performance point-of-view, my G1 2002 SR-22 could manage your mission pretty well. It has 1125# of useful load. And, loading up your family of four (670#), some luggage (80#), flight bag (15#), oil & misc. (10#), I can fly with full tanks (81 gal.) cruising at 165 kts. lean-of-peak. Depending upon altitude, I may burn as much as 14.5 GPH. (My engine is normally aspirated.) With no winds, I can easily do a 700-725 nm. trip and land with an hour of fuel in the tanks. The 400 nm. you mentioned is just a short 2.5 hr. hop requiring only 40 gal. of fuel (inc. a 6K’ climb/descent).

Now, my early model Cirrus is barebones - “just” dual Garmin 430s, STEC 55X autopilot, an Avidyne MFD, and 6-pack of flight instruments (including a electronic Sandel HSI). Early on in my ownership, I added an engine monitor. And later, I added a traffic avoidance system. No TKS (anti ice). No turbo normalizer or turbocharger. No air conditioner. Just lots of useful load that lets me take four people all over the place … weather permitting, of course. As potential aircraft owners wanted more features/accessories, Cirrus Aircraft added them … and the useful load went down and down. Later, Cirrus tweaked the design a bit (actually quite a lot), took out some weight, and upped the MGW from 3400# to 3600#. Now, the airplane’s utility was back to four seats, luggage, and lots of fuel.

Finally, consider the parachute. It truly saves lives. Stuff happens. Stuff can happen to you, the pilot. When I bought my Cirrus, it was for the useful load and the speed. I had already flown several other types of planes and currently owned a Mooney M20K; I accepted the risk associated with flying. Now, I fly the same missions that I did previously but with much greater safety margin solely because of the parachute. And, if something happens to me while my wife is in the right-seat, she knows how to pull the chute…

Blue skies,




When flying my wife and daughter, the main factor for me is CAPS. Everything else is secondary.

I have 2 boys, youngest 14. Have been on many long trips with all 4. Generally stopping at 2.5 -3 hrs as my wife says she wants to, and I am no dummy…I do as told.

CAPS always my backup plan, and My wife has done Partner in Command so she is well aware of when and how, as are my kids, especially if I “check out” while up there.

I have G2 with A/C and believe it will likely be my last plane… planning new paint and other upgrades as time goes along.

Good luck

I’ll never forget reading the story of the man with his family travelling in a King Air and the pilot died! The man had gone through a few flight lessons and ATC amazingly talked him down to a perfect landing.

However, the part of the story that really stuck with me was that his teenage daughter was in the back of the plane vomiting.

I pictured my daughter (and wife) in the plane cruising at 9000’ and I have a heart attack…what now? The sheer terror that they would experience, and almost certain death in any OTHER aircraft, makes me shudder.

Cirrus and CAPS is it for me!