Tuesday, April 21, 2009
A New Cirrus With A New Boss
Flight Into Known Icing is added to the SR22
|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. |
I wasn’t able to go out and find any icing conditions to test the new Cirrus’ capability—also, certification is still pending. I was, however, able to evaluate some of the features that make the Perspective so appealing. One of the first things any pilot will notice when sitting behind the controls of the Perspective is Garmin’s Synthetic Vision Technology (SVT), which provides a synthetic picture of the outside world on the PFD.
The amount of new information provided to the pilot by the addition of SVT is substantial: terrain, traffic, airports, ILSs, Highway in the Sky (HITS), you name it—it’s all in plain view of the pilot. For pilots operating in mountainous areas, the ability to see the rising terrain during night or instrument conditions is a huge bonus.
The Perspective offers icing-system status and alerts.
Icing protection has been added to the leading edges of the elevator tabs
The risk of one of aviation’s most common accidents, controlled flight into terrain (CFIT), should be significantly mitigated by this leap in technology.
The core to managing the system is understanding the GFC 700 autopilot and the FMS.
With an optional yaw damper to help for smoother rides in turbulence, the three-axis GFC 700 is, without question, one of the smoothest and most capable autopilots available.
| Windscreen icing protection is achieved by two nozzles in front of the windscreen. |
Of particular usefulness is the vertical navigation (VNAV) mode, which allows the operator to set predetermined altitudes at specific locations along a flight plan.
For example, if a clearance is given to cross 10 miles west of XYZ VOR on a descent, a simple input into the FMS, with an arming of the VNAV on the autopilot, will cause the aircraft to descend at the exact rate of descent, at the exact time necessary to cross the fix at the cleared altitude.
This is particularly useful in high-density areas when descending from high altitudes, which may be a pretty common occurrence with the SR22 Turbo’s ability to fly at 25,000 feet.
The handling qualities of the Cirrus are as gentle and responsive as they come. With its unique spring-loaded flight control system, it’s as if you control the SR22 by just thinking about it, without having to make large flight control inputs.
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