I finally got my Private ticket last Thur, Part 141, at 147 hours total time (all but 21 dual) 60 hours at my first school in an Archer, 23 in my SR20 (more on that in a second) and 64 in a C-172. Total cost was about $16,000.
As I said in a previous posting, my insurance cost is $7050 for basic $1M/$100K coverage with 5% hull value deductible on any damage. My insurance company required factory training PLUS 15 additional hours dual from Wings Aloft and no solo flight allowed until private license in hand.
I arrived in Duluth on 6/20 and did the acceptance flight that day, no problems then except transponder consistently 100 ft. off despite repeated re-checks by the Cirrus factory pilot. I started my factory training with Chris Baker of Wings Aloft the following day; weather was so bad we could only do the ground portion. Next day (6/22) we got up for a good part of the day under a gradually lifting 3000 ft. overcast. Let me say right here, that Chris is a great instructor and any of you will be lucky to get him for your factory training! Although we started back to California on 6/23, that day of flight in Duluth was critical and I urge you all to stay close to Duluth for your first 5 - 15 hrs.
Here are the problems we encountered/discovered that first flight day:
Transponder still consistently off 100 ft.
Tow bar holes drilled incorectly(minor/replaced)
Garmin 430 (NavCom 1) defect (scale switch inop)
Flaps became inoperable (relays replaced)
Electric fuel pump inner gasket leak (Chris
noted Blue stain from “wrong” outlet on belly)
According to Cirrus this is the worst experience they have had with anyone’s plane, some of the problems like the fuel pump and maybe the Garmin? were first time experiences with the SR20. The flap relay problem is more common (still less than 20% of owners have experienced). I’m just glad they all occured while still in Duluth. The Cirrus team was GREAT in responding to all of these problems:
Tow bar replaced not just re-drilled
New Garmin 430 installed and both units(C model)
updated to then latest Map rev.
All flap relays quickly replaced
Electric Fuel pump replaced and tested
And most appreciated of all, the Cirrus team
went thru an adjustment of the transponder to
correct the altitude encoding even though it
was technically within spec despite the lengthy
procedure and considerable personal/family time
sacrifice to ge this fixed before I left the
following morning. Many thanks to Rick and team!
This is a great airplane and a great value but the true success of CD, I believe, is coming from the vision and leadership of the management and the combined teamwork and great attitude of everyone at Cirrus. It was great to put faces to all of those names and voices over the phone.
The flight back to San Jose was accomplished in one long day. Duluth to Billings, Montanna in one hop. Billings to Idaho Falls (to complete some paperwork advantageously), IDA to Logan, Utah where I have a home and friends with promised rides, and finally into San Jose by 9:30 that evening. The trip was easy and uneventful (saw Yellowstone/Old Faithful from the air) until the last few hours of threading our way thru moderate thunderstorms/lightening in growing darkness over the Sierra Nevadas into California.
Chris clearly knew what he was doing, but I wouldn’t have attempted those last few hours alone.
We completed the factory training and insurance required training in the Bay area over the next two days. I also paid Chris/WA to train two of the Flight schools in my area on the SR20, both ground and in flight, so I can begin IFR instruction with them in my SR20 in the near future. Then Chris returned to Seattle (he’s now based in Duluth for Wings Aloft) and I put N893MK in my hangar(private not county) at RHV to continue work on my private in the C-172.
I ran up the engine into the green every 10 -14 days to keep engine and gyros healthy but couldn’t fly or solo due to insurance restrictions. This last weekend, with my Private ticket finally in hand, I tried to give a Bay tour to my visiting Japanese (wife’s) relatives together with a chief pilot that Chris had trained since I had not flown the plane for so long (6 weeks) only to find the battery essentially dead (wouldn’t turn the prop over even once). Don’t think there is anything wrong, just ran the battery down with preflights and starts with no flying time to charge it back up.
My impressions of the SR20, mostly from long term memory, are: (for a new pilot)
My C model empty weight came in at 2108 lbs, 8 more than the max I was hoping to receive. I am really looking forward to that gross weight increase (when??) for a better useful load. Don’t have enough experience yet to quote climb or cruise performance. Range seems good/as advertised.
Castering nose wheel/toe brake steering and transition back and forth to rudder steering is sonmething I will have to learn to appreciate
Spring loaded controls and trim still felt odd and un-natural right up to my last hour of flight and I am surprized you long term pilots could adjust/be comfortable so quickly?!
I am not saying I land well in the SR20 yet but I tend to land flater than optimal in a C-172 and so find the modest flare of the SR20 easier
I appreciate the speed of the SR20, I passed a few C 172’s (safely) like they were hovering or flying backwards. But I also had to adjust to the need to think ahead to slow down/come down and one poorly executed approach to RHV resulted in me almost “buzzing” the field more than executing a go-around. Chris had me well trained before we finished; I hope all is not forgotten.
In terms of Avionics and systems, I am glad I chose the C model. The Garmin 430 is a fantastic piece of technology but has a steep learning curve. I plan to upgrade the transponder to 327, add Ryan TCAD, and possibly in-flight satelite weather. The S-Tec 55 is a great autopilot with only one problem for me, I have unintentionally engaged it 2 - 3 times and found myself fighting a varying and out-of-trim condition in the pattern. I think this happens when I bump the HDG button with my knee without noticing it. I am thinking of pulling the autopilot circuit breaker (after a full successful preflight test) until I decide to engage the autopilot. Thoughts?
Arnav MFD?? Great potential with, I have to say, very disappointing realization. The potential to use all that screen real estate for situational awareness is fantastic and it looks like the engine monitoring may finally be out soon. But for many innovations that I want to utilize (Ryan TCAD, Satelite weather) our only current option is too make the 430’s due triple or quadruple duty on their much smaller screens.
So, sorry for the delayed report. Thru no fault of Cirrus, this has been a trying and frustrating experience. I plan to get re-familiarized and re-trained with my plane starting this next weekend and hope to really start enjoying my plane and flying. I’ll try to give updates periodically if I haven’t bored you all to tears?
Scott k. (3 AM - slow/poor typist)