Outstanding service from Cirrus

It was a dark and stormy night …

… when I flew to Green Bay, WI, last Thursday, to attend EAA Airventure in Oshkosh. As Murphy’s Law would dictate, the Stormscope in my SR22 started failing just before I got to the worst of the storms.

Both Garmins would indicate an “Error 50” from the Stormscope. I pulled the breaker to reset the Stormscope several times. The first couple of times, it worked for a whiile before getting the error again. Eventually, it would get the error immediately on startup.

Thanks to advice from Flightwatch and vectors from ATC, I made it to KGRB in one piece.

On Friday morning at the Cirrus booth, I mentioned the problem to a Cirrus employee, who steered me to Peter Powell. Peter’s title is Manager, Field Services.

Peter got the particulars and promised to get a replacement Stormscope processor and install it in Green Bay. I dropped my airplane keys at the FBO on Friday evening.

Early Saturday afternoon, I got a call on my cell phone from Peter. The Stormscope had been replaced and the replacement was working, as far as they could tell on the ground. Peter asked if I would mind flying close to some thunderstorms to test it out. I told him I would get back to him on that [:)].

On the way home on Monday afternoon, the new Stormscope worked perfectly, and helped keep me clear of the ugly stuff.

I received a sticker with the airframe logbook entry in the mail today.

Folks, I don’t think service gets any better than this. I had a ten-minute conversation, dropped off the keys, and it was fixed the next day!

Thanks to all the Cirrus folks who did such a great job.


I had a similar experience with Powell last year with the MCU in my '22. He was new to CD at the time but the only one reachable because it was during OshKosh. In 24 hrs he had a replacement MCU shipped and I haven’t had another MCU problem since. He is definately THE go to guy.


Was it just a bad Stormscope? Not wiring, antenna or something else? Never heard of a Stormscope going bad. That’s a first.


Cirrus actually did some investigation on this before replacing the processor. The Stormscope manual says that error 50 is “Illegal Heading Value”, and the fault source is the MFD. It’s listed as a nonfatal, recoverable error.

Cirrus consulted with L3 (formerly Goodrich) at Oshkosh, and in L3’s opinion, the fault was not in the processor, but elsewhere. Cirrus decided to roll the dice and replace the processor anyway.

I’ve only flown it once since they swapped the box. That flight was 3.7 hours, and there was never a hiccup from the Stormscope. I’ll just have to wait and see if it stays fixed.

I don’t know in what form the heading is presented to the Stormscope, but if it were in analog form, for instance, I can easily imagine a hardware failure mode in the processor box that would cause this error. Even for digital input, an intermittently stuck bit could cause the problem.

Time will tell.


I often get a message on the Garmins when I start up - “Stormscope heading failed” but the system subsequently works fine. I chalk it up to a timing/sequence issue as various components come on line. Do others see this as well?

I see “Lightning Failed” frequently on stratup then it is fine after all the boxes are intialized.

I usually get this, too, and came to the same conclusion that you did. I suspect the PFD is the original source of heading information and doesn’t output it until it is completely initialized.


I see the same message but not with every start-up. I have ignored it as the Stormscope heading in fact has always functioned well. I too attribute this message to a coming on line sequence variance.

I see this intermittently as well. I think it occurs when I wait too long to hit OK on the 430 (thus delaying the 430’s acquisition of satellites?). Once everything is up, there are no problems despite the error message.