Trading up to a Cirrus

I am looking to get more speed, more comfort, and AC in a plane and I haven’t really considered a Cirrus until recently and now I am poking around to get some advice.

Here are my musts:

  1. SR22 with AC (down here in Texas, it is a necessity)

  2. 430 WAAS, DFC90 preferred

  3. Price range ~ $230-250k

  4. I am looking for good flexibility from the plane – occasional cross-country flying to short hops.

I’d like to get some thoughts on what I’ve been reading though.

a) I’ve seen a couple SR22 2007/8 G3 GTS Turbos for less than G3 NA of the same model year. I would have expected the Turbo normalized versions to come in at higher priced than the NA versions. My guess is the maintenance costs are appreciably different between the two to drive the turbo costs down more quickly than their NA versions?

b) NA sr22s are “faster” at lower than 10k ft altitude than their counterpart Turbos. And, the speed difference only really starts kicking in at FL15. Do a majority of SR22 Turbo pilots fly at mid-teens normally? I have a hard time believing that I’m going to want to deal with an oxy mask everytime I go fly.

c) I keep reading that the G3 has a much different handling attitude than the G2. Should I expect a steeper depreciation curve for the G2 than a G3 over time?

d) Assuming the choices were to buy a G2 (lower time), G3 (mid-time), or G3 Turbo (mid time), assuming features were otherwise the same and adjusting TT hours, what would buy?

Any input is appreciated!

When I had my Turbo (TN), I almost always flew between 16,000-17,500. It is pretty hard to beat 200 KTAS on 16.5 GPH. Oxygen is a non-issue if you get an O2D2 and, especially, the OxyArm headset-mounted boom cannulas, which make O2 downright comfortable. I literally decided to buy my TN based on that comfortable O2 setup.

I absolutely loved the TN compared to the NA. The additional costs of $5-10/hour are in the noise compared to the comfort and capabilities that the TN provides, IMO.

The G3 handling is a little different; certainly not “much” different. That said, I’d opt for a G3, because there are many other improvements, not the least of which is an additional 11 gallons of fuel.

G3 TN, hands down. Loved that airplane.

Ditto what Gordon said

Note that both the above responses are from people who now fly Eclipse jets. That says that most of their flying is cross country, and often fairly long hops at that. That clearly colors their opinions.

The correct airplane for you is dependent entirely on your mission. If most of your trips are over flat expanses of country and less than 2-300 miles in length then the turbo won’t make that much of a difference. Conversely if you fly over high country and often make trips of over 500 miles the turbo can be a game changer. It allows you to find more comfortable altitudes and, sometimes tailwinds, and it allow you far more options in route planning.

I fly a NA aircraft. I hate using oxygen, even with O2D2 and oxyarm cannulas. While that system is certainly much better than the standard oximizer cannulas it still is a pain and I find the tubing very annoying at best. While Gordon feels that oxygen use with O2D2 is a non issue, it may be a non issue for him, but it’s still very bothersome to me. When I’m in the high country I can get to 15-16,000 fairly easily with the NA aircraft and while I go significantly slower than a turbo up there I also burn substantially less fuel (10.5-11.5 gph) allowing for impressive range. Because I only go to the high country (mountainous west) 3-4 times/year max, I don’t feel that I need a turbo for those unusual trips. I will admit however that when I leave Jackson Hole I wish I had the turbo for the ability to maintain a rapid rate of climb. If I did that trip routinely I’d certainly opt for the turbo, but I don’t so I didn’t.

But I also make lots of little trips including at least one flight a week where I just go and fly nowhere for an hour or two. There is no need for altitude on those flights and, in fact, most of the fun, is enjoying the countryside. For those trips a NA is a much better deal.

Finally there is no doubt (ask any mechanic) that the turbocharged airplanes are more expensive to maintain, and are less likely to make TBO than their normally aspirated counterparts. The engine runs at higher power most of the time (why get the turbo if you don’t use its ability to fly at 85% power or more at 10,000+ feet)? The compressed air going into the cylinders is hotter (even with an intercooler) and this does not help engine longevity. The engine compartment is much busier making access more difficult and therefore making routine tasks more time consuming and therefore more expensive. The difference may not be great but it is there.

So what you have to decide is whether you need or want the ability to go high on a regular basis. If you do then get the turbo. If you don’t the NA will do a fine job for less money.

Of course, Jerry’s right. That’s the most important input into the decision-making process.

One thing I often hear is that the Turbo should be considered only if you fly in the mountainous west and “need to” fly high. I disagree. In the Turbo, you fly high even in the flatlands because you can fly high, and enjoy the many benefits, such as 200KTAS, being above a lot of weather and being high enough to much more effectively see and avoid convective weather, much less traffic, smoother air, and better routing.

I’m talking about the high 'teens here. In the 4+ years I owned my TN, I only went into the flight levels twice, and both times it was at FL190. I am not a fan of operating the airplane routinely in the 20’s. Too nasty up there.

A practical example: within the last ten days, I flew two almost identical 400 nm trips crossing Germany from North to South, a trip pretty much across flatlands (no terrain above 3000 feet where I flew). This was in typical summery unstable airmass with lots of cloud and some showers. One flight was in an SR22T. We went at 14,000 in the bright sunshine all the time except for an ILS into our destination, breaking out at 1500. The other was in a Bonanza. We flew at 10,000, in the sun for about 50 minutes. Then we had to climb to 12,000 to avoid clouds, which took ages, made us slow(er) and we didn’t have oxygen, either. Finally, we got into the clouds up there, too, picked up some ice and descended below the freezing level at 7000. Spent another hour in the clouds, unable to see and avoid showers with associated turbulence. Finally broke out near our destination into scattered clouds as promised and descended.

if you like sunshine and hate headaches, the combo of turbocharging and oxygen equipment is hard to beat.

There are plenty of turbo Aircraft out there that have had $30,000 in work at around 1000 hours in time if they were run at the upper limit of what was allowed. Do a thorough prepurchase inspection.

Lots of good comments.

TN are about the same price as n/a because, G3 forward are almost all turbos. The rarity of the n/a keeps the price up.

I wanted an n/a. Couldn’t find one Ike I wanted, so bought the TN.

I’d never flown one and didn’t like flying high. I’ve now discovered the O2D2 system. Having built in oxygen in the TN is awesome. I don’t know how many times in the Bonanza that I wanted to climb over the afternoon buildup and my oxygen was in the cargo or hangar.

In short, I’m glad I couldn’t find an n/a. With that said, if I didn’t like it, I could drop an n/a in at overhaul time. The plus is I’d still have built in o2.

Oh yeah, I’m in Texas, too, and the a/c works incredibly well! Be glad to give you a ride, if it’ll help.

Over the course of the last 8 posts, I have gone from buying a NA, back to a Turbo, back to NA. I think I am leaning towards a Turbo. - Flexibility during the summer months in Texas with the cloud buildup in the afternoons and the unstable air down low. Gives me choices to help keep passengers a bit calmer. - It seems there are more turbos in the used market in 07 and '08, esp ones with AC. Must have been an equipment package or something. What I am concerned about are the maintenance and unforeseen expenses that may arise from Turbos. 1) To the outside world of non-Cirrus drivers, the criticism (possibly unwarranted) is that Cirrus Contis rarely make TBO and even less so in the case they are Turbo’d. Expect a top overhaul and replace a couple cylinders or three around that 1500 mark. 2) Annuals on Turbos can regularly be double that of their non Turbo’d counterparts generally speaking esp as they start to pass that 1000 hour mark. Any thoughts?
Btw, the feedback has been excellent. Thank you to the very thoughtful responses.

Nate, would love to take you up on a ride. I hangar out of Redbird. Where do you park?

I’m in Abilene. Come over and I’ll buy you lunch and we can go fly. Or we can meet for BBQ at the Hard 8 in Stehpenville. And then go fly. What have you been flying?

GK - ask a cirrus service center manager or mechanic the cost and maintnence questions TN vs NA. Most of the folks here think they can withhold there internal biases but I’m doubtful. Ask 5 competent cirrus mechanics and you will understand real fast the truth. A lot of folks on COPA have traded multiple cirrus before reaching 1000 hrs. Their advice to you on maintenance cost is not really statistically valuable. Only a few of us have owned one cirrus more than 2000 hours. Many here can speak to the operation and usefulness though of an NA and Turbo.

My experiences and missions are similar to Jerry’s. I have a 07 G3 NA and previously partnered in an '06 G2 NA. Both fly about the same with the G2 allowing for less rudder commitment and slightly easier to land IMHO, however barely noticeable. More fuel and other features make the G3 nicer, but late model G2s are a sweet spot of value in the market.
The turbo vs NA vs AC is well covered. I have AC (a must IMHO) and don’t miss the weight of a turbo for my usual short missions. My plane is 2385# (loaded all options x turbo and I have O2). Turbos with AC are pretty heavy so keep that in mind.
I think the added cost/maintenance of the turbo is way higher than $5-10/hr but hard to define. Many turbos with 1000h are getting new engines and have had pricey annuals making the added cost more like $50/hr. Perhaps still worth it but not to me. Many are well flown and it’s not always pilot abuse. All the other bits seem to take a beating and add costs to routing annuals.
Mission really defines the need, but no regrets with my NA. I suspect that’s why they hold value better in the used market.

Above, some great advice…Gordan’s is especially spot on. I have an 08’ TN and it is remarkable what this plane can do. My flying ranges from the weekend lunch run to the occasional trip to Cabo, Bahamas or Chicago. I think the turbo is something you don’t know you missed until you have had one. So far, mine has the original cylinders and has been relatively maintenance free with the exception of a pressure controller. Hire a well known CSIP and Service Center that truly understands how to run/work on the TN and it will minimize any issues. If you are around Houston, give me a call and I’ll take you for a spin. Good luck with the search!

Hard8 sounds good. I fly an experimental - a Glasair. Plane is in for its annual so won’t be for a week. Maybe we can shoot for something next weekend?
Will PM sometime next week. Appreciate your time. Lunch is one me. Gavin

Will take a good look at the G2s. Thanks for the info. I read an article recently talking about the differences between the G2 and G3, other than the wing spar and the rudder, saying that the G3 is appreciably easier to fly, i.e., trim for cruise. Seems to suggest G2s are “twitchy.” I fly a plane now that goes 165kts and is heavy at cruise, but when it gets to 115kts and trimmed for airspeed, it starts to get “twitchy” and doesn’t hold pitch without intervention.

Better yet, GK, instead of relying on anecdotal reports from a few of us or a couple shops, call up Savvy and ask them for some hard numbers. Since they manage the maintenance on literally hundreds of NA’s as well as Turbos, they are in a unique position of knowledge on this issue. You can reach Mike Busch directly at 805-489-1977 (w) or 805-878-4597 (cell).

Also, I strongly recommend having them manage your pre-buy if you acquire on the used market.

Remember that a turbo is 30 knots faster. Over 1000 hrs that is 30,000 additional miles. It takes about 175 more hours to fly an NA the same distance. The interval mx is more expensive but cost per mile is not substantially higher. I am approaching 1600 hours on my TN. Never a cylinder problem.

NA’s seem prone to stuck oil control rings, Turbo’s don’t seem to do that. Turbo’s eat exhaust parts.

Buying a used Turbo is trickier than an NA.

Ah the Cirrus dilemma! I’ve owned both, and I’d rather fly the turbo while I’d rather maintain the NA.[:)]

The simple truth is that turbos work harder because they are able. You make more power, and that’s more heat. This can be well managed, but we have learned a lot about making the turbo motors last well. If you learn the state of the art of Turbo management you will probably have a good MX experience. You will definitely have a great flying experience. One of the really nice things about Cirri is that everyone seems to really enjoy theirs, so you won’t go too far wrong either way. I agree with A/C, so I will caution you about useful load with a Turbo. Other than that limitation, the turbo will do everything the NA does and more. You will spend more for MX; even absent parts replacements there’s more to inspect and adjust. One additional caveat with the TAT turbos is the lack of warranty should you replace the motor. These conversions were never warranted by TCM, and as I understand it they won’t warranty a replacement engine with the TAT conversion. Cirrus provided the engine warranty on these birds originally, but now they are somewhat orphaned by Cirrus and TCM. The later TCM turbo motors won’t have this issue.

Whilst I follow the logic of this argument, and that made by Gordon, and my flying circumstances are broadly similar to Thomas’s with about 2 - 3 hour flights in Europe, my personal experience is a little different.

I fly a 2005 N/A SR22 and, on those flights fly typically at 16000 or 17000 feet with an O2D2. Making the altitude is no problem and, like Gordon, I see no attraction in flying an unpressurised SEP in the 20s, I am happy to forego the 200 KTAS at 16.5 GPH Gordon used to get and settle for 165 at 12 GPH or, if I get a nice tail wind, even 150 at 9.5.

That lets me run the engine really cool, and Avgas here costs about $13 a gallon so that’s a factor as well. I also save the downtime and increased maintenance costs associated with a turbo.

I’m not knocking the turbo, which is a terrific machine, but for me I would not see it as essential. Of course, as ever: YMMV!

I would strongly support the advice given above: whatever you decide, talk to Savvy and get a thorough pre-buy inspection which I believe they can manage for you.