Oxygen system approvals

In recent posts about service ceilings, it seems pretty obvious that the SR22 is capable of much higher altitudes than 17,000 feet. However, if the SR22 was certified based on the SR20 type certificate and never tested at altitudes higher than the SR20, then presumably we have to live with this limitation until Cirrus decides to certify it for higher (write in campaign anyone?).

But that got me thinking about oxygen for my plane. In re-reading the POH, the only oxygen system certified is “Mountain High” mounted in front of the right seat facing forward, making the SR22 a 3-place plane at high altitude. Seems unfortunate given the many recommendations by COPA forum postings.

To play devil’s advocate, to use any other oxygen system mounted in any other way would be technically in violation of the SR22 type certificate. I presume the FAA could bust you during a ramp check. And if an accident occurs with an uncertified system in place, what would happen when our insurance companies hear about it?

So here is a suggestion: does anyone have experience getting an FAA “field approval” for a Cirrus modification? Seems like a pretty simple request that could be inspected very easily after you installed your portable O2 system yourself. And in reading the FAA website info on field approvals via Form 337, they can become the basis for sharing approvals, hopefully, via the COPA Forum.

With only a single oxygen system certified that reduces the SR22 passenger capabilities, it seems highly desirable to get better alternatives “approved” before the consequences of non-compliance outweigh the advantages.


I also have been thinking about the oxygen system and have contacted one other manufacturer to see what they had to say about it. I picked up the following from Precise Flight which owns Nelson Oxygen Equipment:

  1. They are in the process of certifying their system for the Lancair and are interested in also certifying for Cirrus. They are looking for a Cirrus in the Oregon area to do the initial installation. Anyone in the area (I am not) who is interested can contact Chuck Payne at chuckp@preciseflight.com.
  2. Apparently one reason for not mounting a system to the rear of the copilot seat is to protect the forward G force capability of the seat. I assume the old “strap it on the back of the copilot seat system” that you see in older planes certified under less stringent rules, are not appropriate under today’s certification requirements.
  3. Apparently the Lancair setup is attached to a structural point behind the rear seats to avoid the seat G force issue. I don’t know how they deal with access to control valves and ability to view the gage.

Although it would be very nice to have the use of all four seats for situations when oxygen might be required, I think it is even more important to have the copilot’s seat usable. It does not make sense to have to put an experienced copilot or even an inexperienced spouse in the back seat when oxygen might be needed. That deprives the pilot of valuable assistance and reduces safety in the air. (However, the headline would probably read “Pilot hit over head with oxygen bottle by irate spouse”.) Logical people just are not going to do this.

Perhaps COPA can take this subject up with Cirrus with a target of getting one or more manufacturer’s oxygen systems certified in a way that allows use of all four seats and if that is not possibly at least something that allows the copilot seat to be occupied legally. We should not be stuck with a system that pushes people toward bending the rules.