Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cirrus SR22 GTS: The Perfect Plane?

Why Cirrus Aircraft’s successful single might be the ultimate cross-country machine

The Perspective Global Connect system includes an integrated satellite telephone, text messaging and worldwide weather.
Another brilliant option for 2012 is the $14,900 "Perspective Global Connect," which brings an integrated satellite phone to the Cirrus' cabin, along with SMS text messaging from the MFD and worldwide weather through a subscription service. We tested the sat phone by calling Michigan while we hummed along nearly two miles above Paso Robles and well out of reach of any cell-phone reception. Imagine the possibilities of flying over Central or South America; the remote deserts of Africa or even the Bahamas, and being able to call or text anybody around the globe or retrieve weather from locations not served by XM.

The descent and landing into San Carlos were easy events, with the SR22 trucking down final in a flat approach and flare. A good dose of practice would get me comfortable, though the side stick still felt a bit alien. The capabilities of the Garmin Perspective go without much comment here, other than it can do just about anything, and the Cirrus' FIKI certification and supplemental oxygen combined with the Perspective mean there isn't much the airplane can't handle.

Once the SR22T was prettified for her photo session, we launched for the Golden Gate Bridge with the sun sitting low over our shoulders. Against the backdrop of San Francisco and her radiant bay, the SR22T looked handsome. The year 2012 brings two color schemes: "Carbon" and "Platinum." The two appointments are targeted at different audiences, with "Carbon" being a more aggressive look, featuring carbon-fiber interior accents, two-tone paint, leather seats and a flat-black spinner. "Platinum" is the conservative (the marketing folks call it "distinguished") motif, with single-color seats, platinum accents and a polished spinner.

Cirrus feels good to non-aviation passengers. The interior is sumptuous and very un-aviation like, which reduces the shock that non-aviators feel sitting in the back of most GA airplanes. It's yet another thing Cirrus has done right, and another reason these airplanes sell. Between the air conditioning, big cabin, customizable audio feeds, and three-position reclining seats, flying in an SR22 is downright decadent. I tested that myself on the way back home as Ambats took the left seat and I spread out in the rear cabin, reclined with a book and enjoyed the irony of Carly Simon singing her 1977 hit, "Nobody Does it Better."

Ok, so the Cirrus SR22T isn't a perfect airplane—there's no such thing—but my epiphany stands that this is a supernal cross-country machine when you just want to enjoy the ride. It's true that if I want a pure, stick-and-rudder, wind-in-the-hair, don't-screw-up-the-landing, aviating experience, I'll take out the biplane (or drop the window on a Cub or Husky). But if I want to go to a vacation destination and arrive relaxed, or if I want to bring non-flying friends on an enjoyable flight that beats the airlines in almost every way, I'll grab the Cirrus keys every time.


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