Preparing for Flight: Pushing Back an Airplane
Aircraft · 7 min read
While pushing back airplane sounds quite straightforward, there are a number of steps involved in the procedure.
For the aviation community and aviation enthusiasts, the Cirrus SR22 may be a well-known aircraft since it has become the most produced model in the light aircraft category. Yet, for some people, it may not ring the bell.
Moreover, this Cirrus aircraft model has so many interesting features to talk about that we have decided it is worth a whole guide.
Keep reading and join us as we discover all the details of the fascinating Cirrus SR22 starting with the creators.
Formerly known as Cirrus Design, the Cirrus Aircraft Corporation was founded in 1984 by Dale and Alan Klapmeier, two brothers who started working on their barn in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
From the beginning, the Klapmeier brothers were decided to disrupt the industry and decided to introduce the first Cirrus aircraft known as VK-30 as a home-built kit airplane that was bigger than any other of its kind since it could house five passengers.
With a very interesting design for low drag and an all-composite construction, the VK-30 was very successful but also had some setbacks. One of them was an accident involving retired astronaut Robert F. Overmyer, who died when testing the aircraft.
Only a few kits were completely assembled and flew from 1988 to the mid-90s when the brothers discontinued production.
Then, they moved to a more conventional approach, launching their first certified production aircraft and the predecessor of the Cirrus SR22, the SR20, first delivered in 1999. Now the two models are at the top of the most popular general aviation aircraft, and they have even won the Robert. J. Collier Trophy for developing the first single-engine personal jet in the world, an award that is considered the most prestigious one by the global aviation community.
Since launching the SR20, Cirrus Aircraft Corporation has been focused on innovating by refining its designs and striving for improved safety. And this takes us to the next point.
As we said, Cirrus has focused on both performance and safety, so we are going to share some of the most relevant specifications of the Cirrus SR22 models.
In general, the SR22 series is equipped with a nose-mounted engine. In the case of the SR22, we can find a six-cylinder Continental IO-550-N 310hp engine that allows this light aircraft to fly at a maximum cruise speed of 183 ktas.
For the SR22T model, a turbocharged six-cylinder Continental TSIO-550-K 315hp engine is mounted, allowing this Cirrus SR22 version to fly at a maximum cruise speed of 213 ktas.
The stall speed for the Cirrus SR22 is 60 KCAS (calibrated airspeed) with flaps, and the SR22T version has the same stall speed.
With the 310 horsepower engine, the Cirrus SR22 can fly at a maximum operating altitude of 17,500 ft, while covering a maximum range of 1,169 nm at 55% of the power. On the other hand, the SR22T gets an increase in max operating altitude thanks to its 315 horsepower engine, being capable of flying at 25,000 ft. However, the turbocharged engine only allows this general aviation aircraft to cover 1,021 nm at 55% of the power.
The Cirrus SR22 has a base weight of 2272 lbs (1028 kg) and a useful load of 1328 lbs (605 kg). The cabin payload with fuel capacity for a 3-hour trip and 45 minutes reserve is 963 lbs (439 kg). The SR22T version has a base empty weight of 2,354 lbs (1068 kg) and a useful load of 1,246 lbs (565 kg).
With a safety record above the average when compared to other aircraft, the Cirrus design of the SR22 integrates a series of systems to make sure safety is guaranteed.
Let’s take a look at some of these systems.
Cirrus owners created the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System or CAPS in the late 90s. The system is described by Cirrus Aircraft Corporation as “a revolutionary whole-plane parachute system”. They include this system in all Cirrus aircraft models, and it was the first one and still the only one to be used in any FAA-certified aircraft.
This innovative idea came to light from Alan Klapmeier’s frightening experience when his flight path crossed another, crashing mid-air in 1985. Cirrus’ perspective of aircraft development changed dramatically to focus more on safety.
But how does the system work?
Let’s begin with some relevant details first. CAPS is a ballistic parachute system that involves the use of a 17-meter parachute.
The name ballistic comes from the fact that it is deployed by a small rocket that is housed in the aircraft frame together with the parachute.
To shoot it out, the pilot or any passenger must pull a handle located overhead. Then, the parachute is fully deployed within seconds.
Of course, there is a lot of debate around this system, even after the first emergency that saw the system in use resulted in a pilot leaving the airplane unharmed.
This is the one-million-dollars question. We said that the safety record is above average, with only two models being above the Cirrus SR22 on the list with a better overall accident rate.
Yet, a review conducted in 2011 by the Aviation Consumer magazine discover that the fatal accident rate for the SR22 was 1.6 per 100,000 flight hours, which meant it was higher than the average rate of 1.2 for general aviation aircraft in the US, even with CAPS being used. This fact may bring up other questions like the next one.
While we do not have the exact total number, we can shed some light on this topic. For example, from 2001 to May 2014, 147 Cirrus SR22 airplanes registered in the United States were involved in accidents, and 122 were fatal.
In 2011, there were sixteen fatal Cirrus accidents. From then on, the number has been dropping. There were ten in 2012, nine in 2013, and only three in 2014. And there was a correlation between the drop in fatal accidents and an increase in the number of CAPS deployments.
With 12 deployments and 3 fatal accidents in 2014, it was the first year where the number of deployments exceeded the number of fatal accidents.
So, how can this correlation be explained?
Well, the fact is that the Klapmeier brothers noticed the main reason for the accidents happening was the pilots having a lack of training on the use of the CAPS, so they only saw it as the very last resort.
During those years, Cirrus introduced different options for training with their partners to get pilots familiar with the process of deploying CAPS. What’s more, they kind of coach pilots into changing their mindset, so they could start considering CAPS a part of their overall emergency training, and not just as a last resort when there was nothing else to do.
Judging by the numbers, it definitely paid off. According to a report from March 2015, CAPS had been deployed 65 times in Cirrus aircraft, and it worked successfully 52 of those times. CAPS being successfully deployed resulted in 105 survivors and only 1 death. The report also mentioned that there had not been any fatalities or anomalies when CAPS has been deployed within the certified and specified speed and altitude parameters although one exception was still being investigated.
Another important aspect of safety when flying an airplane is being sure it is capable of flying under different environmental conditions, including icing conditions.
To achieve this, the Cirrus SR22 is equipped with an FAA-certified Flight Into Known Ice (FIKI) system on the leading edges of the wing and tail. This system includes
Speaking about the last point on the list above, the Cirrus Perspective is a flight deck developed in partnership with Garmin, which includes many important features.
Of course, the safety of the Cirrus SR22 includes many other things. Other safety features include airbag seatbelts and the Electronic Stability and Protection (ESP) system.
Let’s talk about avionics now.
There are many innovative features in the SR22 avionics. One that calls pilots’ attention is the side yoke. This is a unique configuration that may be new to even experienced pilots, but one the manufacturers claim to be easy to dominate. The unique configuration allows maximizing the cabin width, thus improving comfort
However, the most relevant feature would be the flight deck created in partnership with Garmin and called the Cirrus Perspective. Let’s take a closer look at it.
This flight deck offers a series of simple and intuitive controls. From air conditioning controls to dual flight displays to obtain real-time information about the flight and things like battery voltage and fuel monitoring, this is the golden egg of the SR22 avionics. Here are two of the systems included in the flight deck.
This system uses infrared technology to create a nice visual of the world outside the glass cockpit. This becomes very useful to fly during the night when the light is limited.
This technology creates a three-dimensional virtual image of ground and water bodies as well as any possible obstacle and traffic. Intelligent pilot alerts present critical safety information in the pilot’s immediate field of view at the appropriate time. Moreover, you can have the synthetic vision technology and the enhanced vision system active at the same time thanks to the dual flight display.
After seeing everything the Cirrus SR22 offers, you may want to know how much it will cost to have one.
Currently, the SR22 starting price sits at 722,900 US dollars, reaching the 902,900 US dollars price in the GTS version. And this is without considering any add-ons that are sold individually or in different packages.
Of course, an alternative to the high prices mentioned above could be finding a used Cirrus SR22. However, a “modern” second-hand 2016 G5 base model with the latest avionics and features could cost you around 575,000 US dollars. This is still kind of pricey considering a new Cessna 172 could be bought for about 400,000 US dollars.
The Cirrus SR22 is definitely a very innovative and interesting option among light aircraft. With all the features we have mentioned above as well as others we haven’t such as low-drag landing gear, the high price tag could be expected.
Also, you must remember that there are other associated costs. According to research performed by Airshare, the total annual operating costs for an SR22 were 69,830 US dollars at the time of the research. These included fixed costs, inspection costs, maintenance costs, and direct variable operating costs.
Fortunately, buying is not the only way to own an aircraft. For example, if you are still interested in owning an SR22 or SR22T (the nice turbo version), you could opt for a small aircraft leasing contract.
While the Cirrus Aircraft Corporation is more focused now on developing the next generation of their personal jet, the Cirrus Vision SF50 Jet, the truth is that the SR22 is a fine airplane that will continue to compete with the top performers in its category for years to come.