Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A New Cirrus With A New Boss


Flight Into Known Icing is added to the SR22


cirrusWorking under the code name “Project Kiwi,” Duluth, Minn.–based Cirrus Design has been laboring over the last 20 months in relative secrecy to certify its first FAA-approved Flight Into Known Icing (FIKI) system on its flagship aircraft, the SR22.
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Working under the code name “Project Kiwi,” Duluth, Minn.–based Cirrus Design has been laboring over the last 20 months in relative secrecy to certify its first FAA-approved Flight Into Known Icing (FIKI) system on its flagship aircraft, the SR22. Cirrus has significantly differentiated its product from that of its competitors with this newfound operational capability, which is commonly accepted as one of the more difficult aircraft certifications a manufacturer can receive.

At this writing, Cirrus has submitted all the paperwork to the FAA and is expecting certification any day, as the comment period with the FAA has concluded. When asked if Cirrus thought that there was any technical risk with the FAA approving its certification, the company’s answer was “no.” That being said, let’s dive into this innovative new product improvement.

Flying The Perspective
During my introduction to the new FIKI-approved SR22, I got to test-fly the aircraft and feel my way around the Perspective cockpit, codeveloped with Garmin. The particular aircraft I test-flew was equipped with the turbonormalized engine, which provides for constant manifold pressure throughout the climb, making engine management incredibly easy: The mixture is set once after takeoff to the desired fuel flow, and that’s it. As Ron Popeil would say, “Set it and forget it.” Hot and high performance is significantly improved with the turbonormalizer, as the Cirrus maintains an almost constant rate of climb up to roughly 15,000 feet. With the additional air being pumped into the cylinders, cruising at a maximum speed of 219 knots, the turbonormalizer-equipped plane is quite a hot rod.

The cockpit layout in the Perspective-equipped Cirrus is well thought out, allowing for easy access to both pilot information and cockpit controls. The new flight management system (FMS) keypad on the center console significantly improves the pilot’s ability to input information into the FMS. Its physical location, however, is a little inconvenient—the pilot must raise his or her resting hand to input data, which can be uncomfortable over extended periods of time for a complicated flight plan.



Labels: Piston Singles

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