SR20 B or C ?

It’s getting close to the time I must make up my mind - SR20 B or C?

I know one difference between B & C is the Garmin 420 v 430, which gives me another VOR/GS. Do I need that?

The autopilot difference I can decide for myself.

The HSI. I’ve never used one. So I have questions. Will that give me another VOR or not? I’ve read great things about the Sandel, so should I upgrade to that? Again what are the benefits/uses of either beyond the VOR / GPS? Is the C model way overkill when it comes to the dual 430’s = dual VOR/GS’s and the HSI ?

Lastly I’m definitely getting a Stormscope for S Florida living and want the engineview and perhaps the upcoming Garmin GDL.

Thanks for your help!

Dear Bruce,
I’d like to share my thoughts about your questions.
Our SR20 is C model SR20, 3 blade prop.
In contrast to the B version, the C version will give you 2 nav radios by adding a second GNS 430 and by replacing the gyro with an HSI. Though we don’t really need the second display of the GNS 430, it can still nowadays be helpful to have two nav radios, maybe not for redundancy, but to have the chance between HSI or CDI presentation in some cases, for example on the ILS. I like the HSI, on the ILS, during holding, or for course interception in general. However, some peolple pefer the CDI on the instrument approach because they seem to get the message more quickly and clearly from the CDI. The C version will always give you the choice.
Also, at least in Germany, some SIDs are complicated, and if you want to fly them using nav radios, you do need two of them.
However, choosing the Century HSI installation is a bad idea, because its quality is so poor. We currently have the fifth in our airplane after less then a year and I wonder how long it’s going to last this time.
Although I have tested the Sandel already, I can’t say it’s good or bad. I personally don’t need it, because it’s too sophisticated for our purposes and bears the risk of overcrowding the panel with redundant information. However, others have reported being really happy with it.
The C version will also give you the dual alternator installation. Difficult to decide on this too. I don’t know if it really adds redundancy because recently, I had a complete electrical breakdown in flight, probably resulting from some faulty electrical wiring or so. The dual alternator installation didn’t help a lot in this situation!
The “B or C question” also is a question of cost and weight, too. I’ve just heard about C-versions rolling off the line at weights up to 2150 lbs, which is way too much (ours weighs 2085 which is still too much!).
A weight factor is also the three blade prop. Though beautiful, it adds weight, adds no performance and adds to the forward CoG, thus readucing cruise speed, just because of its location of course.
Having flown both the B and C version, I think you should really opt for the 55x autopilot, because it’s much better to have a separate AP control unit on the radio stack than just the 30 autopilot with just the one yoke-mounted control button.
Talking about stormscope, engine monitoring, leather, preheat etc. I can’t tell you much because we don’t have all that.
However, take your time to consider your final configuration because factory installation is so much less complicated than modifying after delivery.

Best regards

Bruce: while I have the '22, I hope a few of my comments may help you.

First, the twin 430 installation allows crossfeeding of flight plans and such. Some people set it up so #1 talks to #2 but #2 does not talk to #1. This allows for 'what ifs" without risking changing the flight plan until you want to. You can override the default for #2 to send the flight plan you just worked on to #1 by hitting about 2 buttons.

Secondly, I think the Sandel is overkill. So far, it has been very reliable (better than many comments about the HSI). I have use few of its more sophisticated functions over and above the displaying the stormscope and the basic HSI functions. I wish it was brighter and the polarized glass makes wearing polarized sunglasses difficult.

The Stormscope also displays on the ARNAV, so I use that for the 50 -100 mile ‘tactical’ range and the Sandel for the 100 - 200 mile ‘strategic’ ranges. (I partly do this as my wife lights up faster than the stormscope on the first hit. Even if it is 200 miles away and 50 off our flight path. Keeping the ARNAV on a shorter range allows me to see the big picture without unnecessarily alarming my wife.) I could live without it displaying on the Sandel.

Third, having twin 430’s allows you to only learn one GPS’s operations. I’m sure the second Garmins in the “B” config is similar, but when things are rushed, the easier the better.

Bruce, you live in FL - the land of the PM thunderstorms - you need the stormscope!

The 3 blade props look better, but do you wnat to pay for it? It weighs about 15 - 18 lbs and is located way out in front. From what I hear the SR20’s tend to be front heavy anyway.

The S-tec 55x is fantastic. If you have a choice, go with it. The altitude pre-select is also very good and I’m not sure if it is available or what the cost, but I would strongly consider it as well.

I also don’t know the cost of the HID light, but given the trouble others have had with the conventional bulb, I’d go with that as well.

From my perspective, here are the priorities I would place on many of the upgrades or options in the “C” package:

  1. Dual Alt.

  2. S-Tec 55x

  3. Stormscope

  4. Twin Garmins

  5. Altitude Preselect

  6. HID Landing Light

  7. 3 blade prop (yes, weight (useful load) is very important to me)

Just my $0.02 worth. YMMV.

Marty (sorry about the ‘annonymous’ user name - I’m really Jatiii)


Please email me – there is something I’d like to discuss with you.



Just a couple quick notes. Some of the above posters gave these reasons for upgrading to the C model:

  • an HSI
  • able to crossfeed the flight plans from one 430 to the other
  • dual alternators

Just for the record, unless things have changed, the B model DOES come with a Century HSI. You are able to crossfeed from the 430 to the 420 and back, and dual alternators, while not standard, are an option on the B model.

I have the B model with dual alternators, and it seems to work well for me. For me, the reason to go with the C model would be to get dual ILS capability (in case either the 430 or the HSI goes kaput and I need a precision approach) and the nicer A/P. But for me personally, it wasn’t worth the extra cost.


Regarding the Sandel brightness, Sandel has a newer display technology that they’re using in their ST3400 TAWS/RMI product. It is significantly brighter and has a bulb that lasts a LOT longer (MTTR of 3500 hours). This technology will probably be available in the SN3308 EHSI early next year. I do not know if there will be a retrofit for existing units. I am hoping to get this in my SR22 #234 in May or June '02.

Thanks Steve.
I definitely will get the 2nd alternator, stormscope. I’d like to upgrade the autopilot if possible.
I wondered if the 430 - 420 crossfed as you said, so really the only thing missing is a second VOR/GS.
I trained IFR (years ago) with dual vor’s so I’m used to that. Right now I’m getting current with 1 and I miss the dual vor’s.

Only thing I don’t fully understand (read-never learned) is the HSI. No matter which model HSI, does that give me a second VOR or what? May be a stupid question but not fully cognizant of the HSI.

Like you I’m not sure of the extra cost for dual glideslopes, but I do like the dual VOR, however I would imagine I still have that with the GPS - as in a CDI ?

The HSI substitutes for the #1 CDI/GS indicator. On the “B” configuration, the second CDI is only linked to the GPS. Therefore, not legal for VOR or ILS approaches.

I’ve had problems with the HSI, especially the glidslope indicator. Having a second glideslope indicator to cross-check the HSI is a big advantage.

I’ve owned the S-Tec 30 (prior plane) and the 55x in my SR20. Both are great. If you get GPSS, which I’d strongly advocate, to me the main difference between the two is the ability to capture the glideslope on approaches. Personally, most of my sins are left/right, not up/down.

Hope this helps. Whatever you choose, you’re gonna love it.


Thanks Andy, now I got it. And thanks to everyone else. Of course more ideas are always welcome.
Bottom line I would like to get it all, but at least the B model, dual alternator, and stormscope.

I am not scheduled to take delivery until next summer but I have been also confused about what is the best “bang for the buck” with the “B” vs “C” configuration. The “C” has dual alternators, 2 430’s and an electric rather than vacuum HSI. The dual 430 configuration also means a different vor/gps head with a glideslope. With the high degree of HSI failures noted, having a backup VOR head in case the HSI fails is a big plus. But that is coming from a guy who has always flown IFR with VOR alone as I have never had an IFR GPS.
The extra alternator is a must for hard IFRand the autopilot upgrade I think helps as well in IFR. When you add the costs of those items to the “B” package, the difference is not that great in price from the “C” which then gives you the extra VOR capability.
I have not made up my mind yet but, based on that analysis, the “C” is not looking so expensive anymore.

We took delivery of our SR20A “B” Model yesterday. Actually, yesterday was the first day we could fly it after some squawks. My very first flight in an SR20 was in IMC. We took off and were in the clouds by about 800’ and shot three approaches at two airports. 2 GPS (1 to minimums) and 1 ILS. Our equipment we decided on based on value and how we fly was:
B Model
Dual Alternators
Altitude hold on Stec 30 autopilot
Sandel HSI
HID light
2 Blade

I had never flown with an autopilot, HSI, or the Garmins before (I owned a 172 for several years with an Apollo GX60 IFR GPS).

While in the soup for the flight, I found the only thing I looked at was the Sandel. I occasionally glanced at the Arnav for any Stormscope info (boomers were about 150 miles away) and looked at the Garmins for freq changes and and a quick glance at the map to orient myself. I was surprised at how much I LOVED the Sandel. The reasons I wanted to get the Sandel were:

  1. Autoslew (The unit will move the OBS for you from one way point to another)
  2. Color - It will automatically differenciate VOR from GPS so you always know what source the needle is from
  3. Overall Situational awareness. With the ability to put a map right on the HSI and have an arc view (which I didn’t use yesterday as I’m still learning how to spell HSI) I think will greatly enhance my instrument approaches and other IFR flights.
  4. I know I have a number 4, but frankly can’t remember what it is!!!

Anyway, after 2.2 hours IMC on my first flight in my new SR20, I LOVE the Sandel.

The C model’s extra VOR radio was not an issue for me. I NEVER used the ONE I had in my Cessna except for ILS approaches and frankly I never really did that many. I used my one GPS for everything. Now that I have TWO Garmin GPS units, I couldn’t see needing it. I also didn’t think I’d use the extra capability of the System 55 autopilot either. So, we chose the B model, with upgrades. And did I mention what a cool plane it is? We’ll have a full delivery report probably next week.



Off topic, but, I am SR22 #250. I just sent in my color choices, etc. , but no mention was made of delivery date. My contract was stated delivery of 6/02, but has never been updated. Has yours, or is 5-6/02 what was on your original contract?