You’ll be reading a lot about the Cirrus Jet (officially, the SF50 Vision Jet) in the weeks and months to come, but nowhere except in Plane & Pilot will you read the real story behind the story. Look for our coverage of this remarkable little jet in our upcoming August issue. And for now, a quick look at five surprising takeaways from flying the world’s first production single engine jet in more than half a century.
Most of the time when we fly new planes, we might be somewhat surprised by how much we like them or how well they perform compared to our expectations, but in the case of the Cirrus Jet, we were wide-eyed from start-up to shutdown.
Here are five big takeaways from our recent flight in the Cirrus Jet. For our full fledged flight report, with details and conclusions you won’t read anywhere else, be sure to get our August issue. (Not a subscriber yet to the best light GA magazine in the world? Click here!)
Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet: Five Takeaways
1. The Cabin Makes Sense: If you’ve had the chance to peek inside the cabin of the SF50, it’s a bit of a discombobulating experience. While every other jet—or turboprop for that matter—is designed from the airframe in, Cirrus went the other way around with the Cirrus Jet, designing the cabin they wanted and shaping the airplane to match. It works. The way the seats are arrayed and the way they reconfigure with the flip of a lever or two…once you fly it, you’ll get it immediately.
2. It’s Totally a Jet But Not Really: The SF50 is a jet that flies like a turboprop, which is to say that it lives in the 20s (FLs 270 and 280 are its sweet spots), it goes through Jet-A sparingly, and it isn’t going to bust through 250 knots on departure, but it is jet like in a few important ways that will make pilots’ lives easier than they’ll ever be in a turboprop, at least any turboprop on the market today.
3. It’s Got Weird But Real Ramp Appeal: One of the inarguable appeals of buying a Cirrus Jet is that, well, it’s a jet. They even put it in the name. The plane attracts attention everywhere you go, so Cirrus’s Matt Bergwald, with whom I’ve been trying out cool new Cirrus planes for about ten years now, tells me the company’s demo pilots all build extra time into their flight plans to account for letting people sit in the pilot’s seat and get their picture taken. It happened to us on both stops. Don’t think it would ever get old.
4. You Can Fly It: One of Cirrus’ claims to fame is that with the Cirrus Jet they work hard to take the complications out of flying, so more people can do it more safely. The SF50 has great avionics with cool new features, including vertical profile view for terrain clearance awareness during arrivals and approach, and it’s got true single-lever power, yes, FADEC, for remarkable ease of operation, and it flies really slow, too, for easy landing and short field performance. Trailing link gear, great visibility. It’s an attractive package.
5. Magic Carpet?: I’ve always thought the whole magic carpet reference was silly, but in the case of the SF50, I think it might just apply. It’s not an across-the-continent kind of jet, the Cirrus Jet, at least not for regular missions, but for shorter hops with a few friends and bags or bikes, there’s nothing as easy, as comfortable or as smooth. Will turboprops get you there faster and on slightly less fuel burned? Some will. With more payload? They’ll do that too. But for the overall experience, ease of use and comfort, the SF50 is seriously hard to beat.
All of sudden, those 600-plus orders make a lot of sense to me.
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