As dozens of Cirrus Owners/Position-Holders saw, Ian Bentley was kind enough to give us an hour of rapid-fire Q&A. What follows below are my notes of new items or new devlopments for old items. Since Ian promised a Customer Update will go to press soon, please rely on it, not this, for the official word…
Production is now at a “solid” 1/day. SR20 Production will re-start in August at a 50/50 ratio with SR22 (Separately, Bruce Gunther said new sales are running 50/50 as well).
The ARNAV engine monitor will be added to production (rather than service center) as soon as ARNAV gets the STC. Ian said this should be no big deal, but we all know about ARNAV punctuality…
Ian would like to see all headset manufacturers standardize their power plugs, but there appears to be NO interest among them. For now, 1 in 4 deliveries are getting retrofit for their headsets
own by the Factory Service Center. Ask Chris Dixon for details.
There are now 33 Service Centers nationwide; Mike Busch is trying to ensure quality by “allocating” adequate service volume (and therefore experience) to each. It’s likely there will be 45 by year-end.
The big news was here (at least for me!): when production resumes,the following enhancements will be made to the “new SR20”:
3000 lb Gross Weight
Monochrome Leather option
Integrated Headrest (seatbelts?) like SR22
Updated Exterior Graphics
SR22-like Lower Cowling to fix Landing Light!
C-Model with S-TEC55X with GPS Steering!!
Optional BFG Skywatch on GNS430 (not ARNAV)
Sandel HSI Option for C-Model!!!
New cylinder fuel drains to correct the hard starting woes!!!
Ian hoped that those of us who were bumped out of line will find all of this worth the wait (I certainly do…)
Two SR20 retrofit kits will be available, both will increase the Gross Weight, the difference will be the landing light solution–new bracket or new lower cowling. It seems the problem was traced to propeller pulse, not engine vibration.
Continental sells the new cylinder drains already (~$45) and Ian says that they make a world of difference in starting.
The glareshield has been spec’d with an alternate material to prevent warping.
Down the road, the SR20 will get an altitude preselect option.
FADEC won’t be available till (at least) year-end. Ian said the complexities are similar to starting up an entirely new model and most of their engineering talent is being dedicated to Production Volume issues. However, he is dead certain that ALL Cirri will eventually have only FADEC engines.
The TurboDeisel is still beyond the horizon and will come well after FADEC.
Air Conditioning will be added as well, but Alan K’s top major enhancement is de-icing. Rather than settling for a conventional solution like TKS glycol or boots, He wants an electric mesh to be installed just beneath the outer composite layer. While it would only need to heat the surface to 35 degrees F., Ian observed that the biggest challenge of this system will be providing enough power. He stressed that this will be an experimental research-only project for some time.
Ian said that the production shifts have enable them to pass the point of needing any more OPERATING capital. The focus now will be on cleaning up the balance sheet, retiring convertible debt, etc. He said that they recently turned down a financing offer, which seemed like an expression of financial confidence.
The meeting concluded with Steve Lin (who graciously organized the forum with Ian and AOPA) urging everyone to sign up for Mary’s Owners Association list. Thanks Steve!
I’m quite sure Ian would have gone on and on till our questions were exhausted, but we were displaced by another speaker. If you haven’t caught it, look up the latest Aviation Consumer article on Cessna’s “QC by AD.” In a sidebar on page 7, the editor contrasts his impressions of plant tours in Independence, KS and Duluth, MN (as well as some wry observations about the two towns). He notes the difference in the openness and vision of Cirrus’s corporate culture–Ian is certainly a leading exponent of that! I’d thak him profusely, but of course, he’d never see it here…!