Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Cirrus SR22-G3: Brazil Or Bust!

After our first flight in the newest Cirrus over San Francisco, we couldn’t wait to fly one all the way to Brazil

cirrus sr22-g3Wow, now that’s a lot of trees. I’m 9,500 feet over the Amazon rain forest, and the only thing I see from horizon to horizon is a bumpy carpet that’s toned British-racing green. A couple days ago, I set off from the Cirrus plant in Duluth, Minn., for what was then a distant port, pointing the nose of this spanking-new Cirrus SR22-G3 south and saying to myself, as I climbed to my initial cruise altitude, “São Paulo or bust.”" />

Cirrus SR22-G3: Brasil Or Bust!The whys and hows of the extra fuel are thus. Many of the changes to the G3 models have been to the wing and related structure and components, resulting in an aircraft that, to some, looks a bit more substantial and aggressive. I feel it’s got a bit more ramp presence, and we all want that. Though the wing’s planform and span remain unchanged, the internal structure of the wing, which now sports a stiffer, carbon-fiber spar, has been significantly altered. The spar is also longer and lighter, so the wing itself is actually longer and the wing tips are shorter, which translates into more space for gas. In the new wing, dihedral has been cinched up from 4.5 to 5.5 degrees. This increase in dihedral enhanced the SR22’s lateral stability, allowing Cirrus to remove the aileron/rudder interconnect, providing pilots with a more harmonized control feel and improving takeoff manners. In earlier-model Cirrus aircraft, unless a pilot held aileron against the rudder during takeoff, a wing would usually dip briefly upon rotation. This is no more. And ground handling has improved, with rudder forces required during taxi being noticeably lighter.

With the uptick in dihedral, there’s also more wing in the pilot’s peripheral vision. But it’s not just the wingtips that are higher, as the G3 is two inches taller nose to tail. Most of this is because the main gear attach points were moved inboard and reengineered to give the aircraft more ground clearance. What this means to you and me is that the G3 will turn tighter, and there’s less chance of a prop or tail strike.

cirrus sr22-g3Yesterday, we began our day in St. Maarten, a little Dutch and French oasis in the Caribbean, and after a brief fuel stop in Grenada, we made landfall over Guyana, crossed the corner of a seemingly verdant Venezuela, and landed for a top-off and to clear customs in Boa Vista, Brazil, three degrees north of the equator, and boy, was it hot! It’s true what they say about the equator—I was schvitzing, as we say in Brooklyn.

The Cirrus G3 is available in two flavors: turbonormalized and normally aspirated. The plane I’m flying to Brazil isn’t a turbo, and the only turbo-related change to the G3 from the G2 is that air-conditioning is now also available on turbo G3s. (It wasn’t on turbo G2s.) The only problem for me right now is that the nonturbo model I’m flying also doesn’t have A/C. (What was the owner thinking?!) Although ventilation has been reworked on the new G3s, and air travels through the system more efficiently, it’s hot in here. And climbing to altitude barely provided any relief. I took these numbers right as we crossed from north to south latitude. At N 00°00.00’ (How often do we see that?), we were cruising at 7,500 feet (after an easy 1,000 fpm climb to keep engine temps in order), clipping along at 181 knots true and burning 18.4 gph best power, with the engine putting out 73% and 2,530 rpm. I later found a sweet spot on this plane at 2,600 rpm, which worked out to 184 knots true. Outside at this altitude, it was 16 degrees C. I wished I could open a window. With the G3, it seems cruise and climb performance are largely unchanged.


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