Plane & Pilot
Sunday, February 1, 2004

The NEW Cirrus SRV


The people who put certified composites on the map now offer an entry-level airplane with an all-glass panel


cirrusDownscaling an existing model isn’t a new trick. Piper has done it a number of times with the Cherokee 140 and Warrior. Maule offered a less powerful, nosewheel trainer version of its M7 bush bird taildragger. SOCATA continues to produce an entry-level model in the Tampico, essentially the same airplane as the Trinidad sans retractable gear and constant-speed prop, and with 90 less hp.
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Unlike most automobiles, airplanes must be designed with concern for aerodynamic drag, so there was no realistic way to duplicate the Beamer’s dimensions in the sky, but Cirrus came as close as it could without increasing equivalent flat plate area to unacceptable extremes. Cirrus has done everything possible to make the cabin feel upscale-automotive in concept, and it shows. Student or ATP, the pilot is bound to be impressed with the roomy, uncluttered flight deck.

Long before Cirrus designers Alan and Dale Klapmeier began building on their idea of the first Cirrus, they surveyed a number of student pilots to determine the students’ worst fears. In answer to those concerns, the ballistic parachute helps allay the greatest fear of new pilots, an off-airport, emergency landing following an engine failure. The standard Garmin GPS satellite navigation system and Avidyne PFD address the second greatest fear, getting lost.

The side stick controller also should be a special joy to new aviators. At this writing, only Cirrus and Lancair have embraced side sticks for roll/pitch control on production airplanes, but don’t be surprised if you see them popping up more often in the near future. Adam Aircraft will be using a side stick on its new centerline thrust twin. When properly executed as on the Cirrus SRV, with forearm-fitted armrests and angled handgrip installation, side sticks can be nearly effortless to operate. The stick shafts translate forward or aft automatically with any pitch trim change, and the trim position indicator is mounted on the side stick shaft. All the Cirrus models employ a light breakout control force, a soft spring-loading that returns the stick to neutral in both pitch and roll when released. That should endear the airplane to new pilots, as well.

Transitioning pilots usually find the switch from a yoke or joystick to a side stick easy and comfortable, and ab initio flight students will probably enjoy that indefinable feeling of being one with the airplane rather than merely an operator. Side sticks most often are associated with lightning-fast control response in jet fighters such as the F-16, but the Cirrus’ controls strike a happy balance between too quick and too heavy.

The SRV maneuvers with more enthusiasm than virtually any other fixed-gear non-aerobatic single, not quite in the Bonanza/Bellanca class, but quick enough to make flying the airplane fun. Specifically, pitch responds at something like five pounds per G and roll rate is nearly 50 degrees/second. Landings are no more challenging than in a Skyhawk or Warrior, appropriate since that’s the competition.

Every aircraft design represents a package of compromises, and the phenomenal success of the Cirrus SR20 and SR22 suggest the pilot public agrees with Cirrus’ choices. Yes, it’s true the SRV isn’t what manufacturers love to tout as an “all-new” design, but Cirrus is hoping its entry-level price and innovative features may just serve to introduce it to a whole new class of buyers.

For more information, contact Cirrus Design Corporation at (218) 727-2737 or www.cirrusdesign.com.

SPECS: 2004 Cirrus SRV - N936CD



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