SR20 for New Pilot?

I am a student pilot nearing my PPL. I am interested in buying an SR20. My flight instructor advises against it - says I should wait until I have 300 hours. He feels the speeds leave too little margin for error for a new pilot and is afraid I’d have a hard time staying ahead of the plane. And as a new pilot I would be harder on a new engine/airframe than an experienced pilot.

Can anyone offer any advice (ammunition) that would allow me to ease his concerns. I’d also appreciate any advice confirming his concerns. Could I limit myself to 130 kts to alleviate risk and still get good performance?

Also - any SR20 partnerships in the Raleigh-Durham area?


Buy a million dollar life insurance policy on yourself and make him the beneficiary. That’ll ease his concerns…

(Seriously…your instructor is absolutely correct. Get yourself a Warrior or 172, get instrument rated, build time, then sell it and buy a high performance plane)

Listen to your instructor. Your instructor is probably the best judge of your
abilities and limitations at the present time.

If your instructor hasn’t flown in a Cirrus, you should ask him/her to do so and
see if he/she changes his mind.


I agree with Michael - but at the same time think a great deal of the decision process has to do with " your decision making process! "

I don’t know much about you - but if you are a methodical logical precise pilot and utilize those skills while flying, you might be just fine in an SR20. I also know that a 1999 plus Piper Archer w/dual 430 Garmins is a terrific learning and entry level platform with max speeds of 125 +/- to keep you from getting behind the airplane while developing your skills as a pilot.

Scott Prinz

I did my first 20Hrs in Warrior/ Next 20 in a 172. Finished and did my checkride in a sr20. did all of my instrument in a sr20. why waste your time learning to fly a 30 yr old outdated wreck? sort of like the people that believe if you can’t do an NDB hold you can’t fly - reality is they are turning those off in a few years so you better be really good in w/GPS. at this point I have 250 hrs and i show the proper amount of respect for what i am doing with the plane but on every level the sr20 is safer - you have so much better situational awareness - the plane is easier to fly - and there is the parachute for emergencies. don’t take my opinion - have your CFI call Rex Davison at ISO Aero at JQF (Concord NC) He has taught in all three planes and would have a good perspective. Good luck!!

Your instructor is right.

A high performance aircraft is not necessarily difficulty to fly…the Cirrus is a very easy aircraft to fly. But like many high performance aircraft it is also much less forgiving of mistakes than, say, a Cherokee or a Cessna 172 or 182 in part due to the fact that it is very slippery. It is also has very complex avionics, so you are much more likely to be distracted from FLYING THE AIRPLANE now and then…and during the inevitable lapses of attention while you are gaining experience bad things can happen very quickly. (This has nothing to do with cruise speed as such – flying slowly in cruise is not a solution.)

I have no doubt that some Cirrus owners who bought their airplanes with relatively low time may disagree with me…but I’d wager most of them have found themselves behind the airplane with a significant pucker factor while gaining experience. The sad situation IMHO is that statistically this aircraft is much riskier than lower performance aircraft for low time pilots. And, sadly, a number of relatively low time pilots have died.

Just ask an insurance company for rates on a Cirrus and one of the other models mentioned above. Do the math - they are telling you how much riskier they think it is. (Actually I believe you will find it extremely difficult or impossible to insure a Cirrus without some significant time and an instrument rating.)

If you want the goodies, by all means get yourself into a nice newer aircraft with good avionics. You’ll have plenty of fun and before too long you’ll be ready to move up.


Thanks to all for your helpful responses.

Based on your collective wisdom I will probably accede to my instructor’s advice - somewhat. There’s a local flying club that has a 172 and an Archer. I’ll build some time there before buying a high-performance plane.

But I definitely agree with Stuart - I don’t want to spend any more time in old technology than needed for safety (hopefully a lot less than 300 hours). I work in the technology sector and thrive in information-rich environments. I think I can manage the distraction factor the technology would pose.

And thanks Michael for the advice to take a demo ride. I’ll try to schedule one with my CFI along so we can both make better judgements as to how much additional time I need before moving up to the Cirrus.

I do look forward to joining the Cirrus owner’s community. You have proven how enthusiastic and helpful you can be.


I would heed your instructor’s advice, at least for the most part. You really should not be turning yourself loose in an SR20 as a newly minted PPL with minimal unsupervised PIC time unless you have experience with technically advanced aircraft and avionics (of course, if you did all your training in a DA20 or DA40 with a full Garmin stack, you may take this with a “grain of salt”).[:)]
My advice would be – use the aircraft you have been training in to fly A LOT. Rack up a hundred hours or so of unsupervised PIC time. Concurrent with this, start your IFR training to get the additional precision control, navigation, weather assessment, and decision-making skills you will need. Fly to many places you have never been before - short cross-country (1 to 2 hours each way) and long cross-country (all day each way with multiple stops) flights, plus local flights with lots of basic skills practice to stay sharp. Basically, build experience and confidence in your own abilities. (I made it a game - to land at every public GA airport in NC using as few flight hours as possible.) Then push on and finish your instrument rating. With about 150 hours beyond your PPL, you MAY feel ready to take on an SR20. How will you know? Arrange to get some left-seat time in a rental SR20 with a good SR20-experienced instructor and ask for an honest evaluation of your skills.
Another thought. It also depends to a certain extent on what type aircraft you have been training in. Before buying my Cirrus SR20, I flew C172 and C172RG aircraft almost exclusively (with brief stints in Archer and Archer II’s). I found the basic transition to be quite easy over the week-long training (25 hours dual instruction flight time plus many hours ground work) I bought from Cirrus with my aircraft. From the basic aircraft control mechanics perspective, an SR20 is MUCH easier to fly than a C172RG once you get used to it. However, it took several months to be completely at ease with the avionics, and I’m STILL learning tricks and quirks of both the aircraft and the avionics 18 months and 350 flight hours later.
If you decide to go ahead and get an SR20, I would suggest that you (a) Buy a LOT of dual instruction time with an experienced SR20 instructor (don’t bother with any instructor who has less than 300 hours LEFT SEAT (i.e. non-instruction PIC time) time-in-type, because he/she is still learning the airplane him/herself.) (B) Get your instrument rating ASAP. The extra training, with emphasis on precision control, navigation, weather assessment, and decision-making, will help you a great deal. It will also help with the insurance issues you will face being an SR20 owner. © Set VERY conservative limits on the type of flying you do until you have logged at least a couple of hundred hours of unsupervised PIC time.

My $0.02 worth.

BTW, I noticed you asked about the RDU area for partnerships. Although I’m not interested in taking on a partner, if you’re ever over in the HKY area and want to go for a spin to see what you might be getting into, drop me a note and we can set something up.

This thread from last October covered a number of views on training in the SR22.

I bought my first SR22 as a 120 hour freshly minted private pilot. I did 20 hours of dual before soloing, and immediately went to work on my instrument rating. My view is after the private licence you start to learn how to fly cross-country. It doesn’t matter really if you learn at 120kts, 150kts, or 180, you have to develop the skills. So long as you treat it as seriously as you did the private (even though it doesn’t come with a rating) with plenty of dual, the transition can be made safely.

But bear in mind, the riskiest times in flying are your first 300 hours total time, your first 100 hours in a new type, and any time spent before your instrument rating. All your energy should be devoted to getting through those killing zones safely.


Dear Todd,

I learned to fly in 1987-1988 in a 182 Cessna which I flew for 15 years. I bought a Cirrus SR 22 last year. My Cirrus is easier to fly than the 182 Cessna that I owned and learned to fly.

There is absolutely no reason not to buy a Cirrus. There is also no reason that you have to fly full throttle if you are concerned about flying too fast.

With what ever plane that you choose to fly in the future, I highly recommend that you get your IFR training now. If you are concerned about safety, that is much more important than the make and model of the aircraft that you are flying.

Good luck,
Mary Helen


There is sound advice here, but don’t let anyone talk you out of getting your plane.

My experience is this:

I learned to fly in 11 months, pushing hard. At first I couldn’t handle the radio and taxiing at the same time. My “Envelope” began to expand, as I learned more and got more experience. I soloed in 14 hours, and got the PPL in 55.

I had 67 hours in my log book therefore (the others was just logged business trips in helicopters that I logged as PU/T) when I picked up N147CD

I got my SR20 4 weeks after I got my PPL. I had only flown once between my Skill test and me owning N147CD.

My first flight, was like learning to fly all over again, I was not sure if I could control the thing in flight and nothing was working. My instructor said “Let Go”, I did and the plane flew perfectly. I was over controlling her.

It took me two days flying circuits and stuff with an instructor, before I was totally comfortable in the plane. My “envelope” expanded once again.

The question is once you get your PPL, do you want to stop learning? Probably not. If your attitude to staying inside your ability/comfort envelope is mature, you have nothing to worry about with an SR20. In fact you will be safer and better.

My envelope expanded with my plane, I took people with me for my next 7 hours or so of flying. I did’t try my first long solo cross country (London/Glasgow) for 4 weeks, and then spent a night in a hotel in Liverpool (half way) because it was “Misty” over the water north of liverpool, and I was worried I would loose my horizon!

I got there the next day. Took someone with me on the return trip.

That was all a year last April, now 14 months later I have clocked nearly 300 hours in my plane, got my IMC rating, my night Rating and am about to be FAA IR rated.

I carried on learning and expanding my envelope. I can still Taxi and use the radio at the same time, so I have lost nothing. If I had delayed getting my SR20, I would not have had so much fun, or learned so much so quick, and would never as been as HAPPY.

Just have the right atitude to safety, learn the systems in the plane, slowly expand your comfort zone, an SR20 is nothing to be afraid of for a new pilot.

And its a great platform to get IR rated on. Go for it.


In reply to:

Get yourself a Warrior or 172, get instrument rated, build time, then sell it and buy a high performance plane)

I find the SR22 an easy plane to fly. I did buy a Warrior, got instrument rated, built time(and money) and then purchased a high performance airplane.


In the end insurance is a big issue. Before you have your instrument rating and 100 HRS TIT it will be very expensive. BTW, i am very glad i did my instrument rating in the sr20. Strategies in the plane can be quite different from a 172 which has two VOR’s and maybe a NDB. Most of these guys will tell you about all their formative time in a cessna or piper - reality is that the sr20 wasn’t an option to them when they did their training. It can cruise at 155 but it is not high performance or complex. Having flown a 182 and an Arrow I find the sr20 much easier. Two people rightly told me that I would not want to own something for any amount of time that cruised at 110 KTS if I had any cross-country ideas. It can be very difficult to get the same rental plane so you have consistency in platform. Don’t forget that the first 3-4 hundred hours are statistically your most dangerous. I think having a consistent plane to fly that you know well and building TIT and confidence is the most important thing. I wouldn’t be so quick to give up on the sr20. Be careful.

Have been in your shoes and will happily discuss in more detail over the phone – 619-920-2120.

Trust instructors – but find out how much they know about the SR20. Two years ago, I talked with the folks who started the Cirrus training program and got a very helpful perspective before I decided to go ahead. Then I chose instructors who really knew the advanced avionics and systems to transition to an SR22 and ultimately get an instrument rating. Every step of the way, my instructor limited what I was authorized to do.

Know yourself – you like tech stuff so the gadgets may encourage your learning but question your decision making capabilities. Are you conservative and prudent or impulsive and aggressive? Do you have the discipline to fly the plan? We think several low-time pilots have died in their Cirrus planes because of poor decisions.

Match your mission – flying around NC for weekend jaunts is very different than flying from San Diego to Seattle to visit my daughter.

Know the plane – COPA members are enthusiastic yet brutally honest about these planes. The planes have problems, pilots have problems, the system has problems. To really enjoy flying, you need to accept and overcome them – moment by moment!

Budget the whole experience – good instructors charge good rates; insurance may now cost you $10,000; maintenance on an out-of-warranty SR20 may be significant; and flying a lot costs a lot. In my case, I budgeted to gain a lot of experience in a short time and spent over $50,000 to fly 500 hours the first year.

Welcome to COPA – in my experience, one of the best Internet resources for flying – and a great bunch of people.


OK - I retract my advice provided earlier and second all of this advice from Mary Helen Dunnam !

Scott Prinz