Plane & Pilot
Wednesday, November 30, -0001

Our 10 Favorite Cirrus SR22S

Airplanes that stand out from the crowd and make us take notice

Best Owner’s Touch

Best Owner’s Touch

Anisa Shahin was tired of FBOs asking where her pilot was whenever she’d show up to go to her SR22. So she did what any smart female airplane owner would do: She painted her airplane purple and added swirls and “curly-Qs.” The result? “Nobody tells me ‘your pilot isn’t here’ anymore,” laughs Shahin. “I just wanted a personal touch so I’d know it was my airplane. When I see it, it makes me happy.” Shahin helped design the color scheme, which was done by Air Graphics in Middleton, Wis. “I’ve always loved purple, and it looked good with silver.” Shahin’s original inspiration came from her own company’s logo and an athletic T-shirt she owned. The two combined create a soft and pleasing look. “But it’s subtle,” adds Shahin. “Guys will come up and say, ‘Yeah, I’d still fly that plane.’”

Most Useful Retrofit

Most Useful Retrofit

Florida-based Paul White ordered his SR22 in 2001, and had to wait two and a half years to get it. After putting 2,000 hours on the airplane, White lost his medical in 2005, and ended up selling the airplane to his medical examiner. White regained his medical certificate in 2008, and bought the airplane back again. Today White says he has the unique distinction of having bought the same airplane twice, and waiting two and a half years each time to get it. White got rid of his original steam-gauge six-pack last year, and installed the three-panel Aspen glass cockpit. “It’s fantastic because I have two electrical busses and two more batteries in the MFD and PFD,” he says. “I get about one full-hour backup if I lose everything.” White says the dual AHRS gives him peace of mind, and the entire system is intuitive. “The Aspen really makes this a great airplane.” White uses the Aspen three-panel system to its fullest, having flown to 47 of the 50 states in his Cirrus, and still flying more than 120 hours a year.

Hardest Working

If anybody would know airplanes, it’s the National Test Pilot School. Based in Mojave, Calif., the school attracts the best of the best, from foreign military pilots to American test pilots and flight-test engineers. The National Test Pilot school also has a fleet of three Cirrus SR22s it uses for a variety of missions. “The SR22’s main role is flight training and avionics testing,” says the school’s Director, Greg Lewis. “Interestingly, out of our 37 aircraft, The SR22 is the highest-ranked for its purpose.” The SR22 isn’t used to teach pilots how to fly, of course, but serves as a test bed for evaluating and measuring flying qualifications and systems. One example is workload evaluation. The SR22 is used to develop tests to measure cockpit workload. The school’s fleet of SR22s (Generations 1, 2 and 3) also assesses systems and trains flight-test engineers. “We use them for evaluating terrain warning systems, TCAS, FLIR and even takeoff and landing performance,” says Lewis. The school’s SR22s are in the Experimental category, with nonstandard modifications like FADEC and removal of the Cirrus aileron-rudder interlink.

You’re In The Air Force Now

In a historic milestone, the United States Air Force Academy recently selected the Cirrus SR20 as the training aircraft for its Powered Flight Program. The Academy had used the Cessna 172 (Designated “T-41”) as its training platform into the late 1990s when it contracted out the task to civilian entities using Diamond DA20s and DA40s. The USAF Academy will take delivery of 25 SR20s (designated as the “T-53A Trainer”) beginning now through 2012.

“We’ve been studying the replacement of our existing trainer fleet since 2010,” said Lt. Colonel Brad Oliver with the academy’s 557th Flying Training Squadron. “The T‐53A meets or exceeds all of our performance and operational criteria, and is very well‐suited to our mission. And, while we hope that we never have need of it, our cadets and instructors will now have the option of pulling the ’chute if it’s needed.”

The Academy’s SR20s will be equipped with the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), integrated fuselage roll cage, cuffed wing design, Cirrus Perspective by Garmin, airbag seatbelts and other safety features that are standard equipment on all Cirrus aircraft. The Academy’s T-53As will have the rear seats removed. The trainers will be powered by the Continental IO-360 engine.

Each aircraft will be “militarized” by receiving the famous USAF “stars and bars” paint scheme that will separate them from all civilian SR20s. The T-53As will be based at the Air Force Academy’s airfield in Colorado Springs, Colo. Recently, the U.S. Air Force sent test pilots from Edwards Air Force Base to fly the first two T-53As delivered to verify their performance and characteristics. More T-53As will be arriving into next year in the purchase deal worth approximately $6.1 million according to Cirrus.


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