Cirrus salesman Tom Bergeron took me up in the SR20 last week, in Palm Spring. Bouncing around the desert thermals isn’t too much fun, but the SR20 is a champ.
The SR20’s only weakness — but it’s a big one if you live in the South or Southwest — is its useful load. By comparison, earlier that day my CFI, wife and mother-in-law had just flown up in my A36 Bonanza to Big Bear Lake (MSL: 6,700 feet) from Palm Springs. On nearly full tanks and against sweltering 8,500-ft. density altitude, we had no trouble getting aloft. Down at 500-foot Palm Springs, though, Tom B., who was eyeing worriedly his full tanks and the 105-degree temps, wouldn’t allow both my wife and mother-in-law aboard for the demo ride. To add salt to this wound, we taxied to the runway with the gullwing doors flapping wide open to get air. It barely helped.
Comparing the SR20 to a Bonanza isn’t fair, unless you’re comparing a $200,000 used Bonanza (1988 or so) with a new SR20. Still, I was struck by the drastic difference in useful loads. I hope Cirrus wins its fight to add another 100 pounds of useful load to the SR20. The SR22’s bigger engine will help, of course. Load, more than speed, will be the SR22’s true virtue. Four adults with suitcases, full tanks, hot day or mountains (or both) . . . go as you please. That’s the dream, anyway.