Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cirrus SR22T: Turbo Without the STC

Cirrus Design now offers a turbocharged model with a factory Continental

New features on the SR22T include additional NACA vents, larger openings for the exhaust pipes, an LED light (used to view potential icing on the wings) and a redesigned nose wheel assembly.
The result is a weight savings of 10 pounds, and that’s reflected in a slightly improved payload. All other specifications and the purchase price remain roughly the same as the existing Tornado Alley Turbo mod version of the IO-550 on the standard Cirrus SR22-G3.

The airplane I flew for this report was about as heavily equipped as a Cirrus could be. It included every option on the list: air-conditioning, the flight into known icing (FIKI) system, synthetic vision, infrared camera and probably a few other items I forgot.

Of these, infrared may be the most futuristic. On the test airplane, the infrared display was above the moving map on the MFD, to the right of the synthetic vision display on the PFD. It was interesting to watch the two, one a theoretical picture derived from a huge computer database (syn vis) and the second a similar real-world image of the same ramp, but with people and cars moving.

Infrared’s thermal-imaging camera utilizes heat signature for its image, so even night would not obscure the presentation of another aircraft on the ground, in flight or of a person walking on the ramp. Infrared penetrates haze, fog, smoke and precipitation eight to 10 times better than the human eye, so the system can be especially valuable in situations of limited visibility.

My first take on synthetic vision two years ago, when I flew the prototype system in a Diamond DA-40 Star, was that it was a neat feature, but more flash than substance. WRONG! Synthetic vision has benefits you may not notice unless you’re in actual IFR conditions. The Perspective system obviously allows you to keep the localizer and glideslope needles centered during an approach, just as would a standard HSI and ADI, but synthetic vision provides strong visual cues as to where the runway is ahead. Fly a normal VFR approach to a long IFR runway in good weather, and you have a representation of the airport environment right down final to the runway markings simply by looking out over the cowling.

Synthetic vision offers that same picture in IFR conditions, but you can’t appreciate it until you actually fly an approach using the system. A typical ILS seems far simpler when you have a clear view of all the airport’s visual cues as well as the ILS approach aids, no matter what the weather.

Infrared and synthetic vision are perhaps only the latest examples of the technology inherent in GA. Today’s aircraft are miracles of electronic and aerodynamic sophistication, and the Cirrus SR22T is near the head of the pack. With the Garmin G1000 to monitor all aspects of navigation, communication and engine operation, and the custom-designed Cirrus Perspective directing all parameters of flight, the SR22T is as sophisticated as many turbine corporate twins.

The new SR22 also is approved for FIKI. Dale Klapmeier says the FIKI system provides peace of mind in situations when ice avoidance is unlikely or impossible. There are three settings on the FIKI system: normal, high flow and max. Normal is intended to handle a minor buildup or the threat of icing, and endurance is roughly 150 minutes. With eight gallons of TKS fluid available, that means a flow rate of 3.2 gph. High flow is 6.4 gph for limited protection icing that’s already accumulated, burning away the rime or clear ice, coating the airfoil surface and protecting against future accumulation. The emergency rate is 12.8 gph, enough to last nearly 40 minutes.

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