There’s been lots of discussion about quality, and after a good deal of thought I put forth my two cents worth.
On a superficial basis, there’s plenty to be frustrated about. My plane has been in the shop very frequently - probably 4 to 1 over my 2050 hour Warrior that was 50 hours past TBO. A good deal of the problems came from outside suppliers, (Century, S-Tec, Arnav), and some came from what I could consider Cirrus issues (the glare shield, nose gear problems, moving seats). Probably at the top of my frustration list is having to pay for things that, in my opinion, were reasonably expected to have been “standard” (easy to start engine, engine that doesn’t overheat, and importantly, ability to carry “final” useful load; I’m still not sure who’s paying for bracket and installation thereof to assure normal landing light life).
At the same time, I feel that there are some factors that are relevant to the equation.
The SR20 is more complex and utilizes newer technology than conventional airplanes. Given a constant focus on quality, I’d contend that the SR-20 is going to have more quality-related problems than a 182, for example.
By its newness alone (and resulting relatively low fleet flight hours), the Cirrus is more prone to problems such as the melting glareshield and moving seats. As annoying as these things have been, I don’t feel that there has been a material safety compromise. Unfortunately, given how much goes into a new airplane, I don’t know how you prevent these things without an impractical cost implication.
I am very mindful that to get the closest thing to a comparable plane from someone else, it would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars more expensive. This has impacted my zeal to go after everything that I have felt the company ideally would have covered, but didn’t. Yes, I realize that a case can be made that I reasonably expected a plane without the issues I’ve mentioned. At the same time, I’m trying to be somewhat pragmatic about things, especially given that I don’t think N2578B has been profitable for Cirrus. I also attach a very high degree of importance to maintaining a good relationship with the CD people.
Importantly, I feel that the people at CD have overall been very good to work with, and have made what I believe are appropriate tradeoff decisions between what’s right for the customer, and what’s right for the company. (Of course, if they are too drastic in doing what’s not right for the company, they’re not doing the customers any favors.) My experience, which seems to mirror many other owners, is that CD gets a good grade for doing what I subjectively think they “should” do (an A- perhaps), but on many occasions they have done things I wouldn’t have reasonably expected them to do (an A+ here). Overall I’m happy with the partnership, and on the things that I have viewed as high priority they’ve been very very good.
[Remember, I said this was too long]
Putting it all together, the marriage between Andy and N2578B hasn’t been perfect. Rolling in all the unexpected costs, I still feel that I have an incredible value. Maybe not quite as good as I thought it would be, but very good nonetheless. I believe that being on the cutting edge requires some flexibility, which normally isn’t my strong suit. At the same time, the alternative would be either old technology or very high cost, and I’m happy with where I am on the tradeoff curve.
Call me a blind optimist, but I do believe that once I’ve completed the up-front investment (frustration and dollars) I’ll be flying a reliable, safe, and unbelieveably fun airplane. Older and wiser, I’d do it again, given the choice.