See what I did there? Punny, isn’t it? What isn’t a joke though, is the Cirrus SR22. This aircraft has become a titan in the general aviation scene and has set records across the board. By definition, it is a single-engine piston aircraft, but in reality, it is so much more.
It has everything a general aviation pilot can ask for and more, in terms of performance, comfort, and safety. It’s also beautiful to look at and has been styled like something out of the jetsons. As a pilot, I believe it’s one of the best single-engine piston aircraft in its class that money can buy, and at the end of this guide, I hope you’ll see why.
Cirrus Aircraft Corporation
The Cirrus Aircraft Corporation was founded in 1984 by Alan and Dale Klapmeier and Jeff Viken, in the Klapmeier family barn in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The three founders were college students when they began designing their first aircraft, the VK-30.
The VK-30 was a single-engine piston aircraft that had the engine placed in the middle of the fuselage, behind the cabin. The powerful Continental IO-550-G engine produced 300 hp (220 kW) and drove a three-bladed propeller that was mounted behind the tail. The body was made completely of composite materials and would carry four passengers and one pilot, which made it significantly larger than the standard kit plane at the time.
The VK-30 stood out and was a novel concept. But most importantly, it pushed Cirrus’ founders to produce aircraft that had a more conventional layout. It also allowed them to experience the power and reliability of the Continental IO-550 engine, which is now synonymous with piston engine Cirrus aircraft.
Development and Design
The SR22 is a single-engine piston (available) in both naturally aspirated and turbocharged versions), low-wing, civil utility aircraft with the fixed tricycle landing gear. It is derived from the SR20 and is similar to its predecessor in design. However, the SR22 is a big step up in terms of performance, technology, comfort, and features.
Like all Cirrus single-engine aircraft, the SR22 is powered by a horizontally opposed, air-cooled, fuel-injected Continental 550 engine that has a total displacement of 552 cubic inches (9.05 l). The SR22 features an IO-550-N, while the turbocharged SR22T is powered by the dual turbocharged TSIO-550-K.
The SR22 is the most produced general aviation aircraft to be made out of composite materials. The use of composites allows the aircraft to be light and fuel-efficient, while still being strong enough to carry high payloads. The body is also designed to have a very low drag coefficient which increases performance and further reduces fuel consumption.
The composites used in the body of the SR22 are not only lighter than conventional materials. But it is also significantly stronger according to the crash tests conducted by Cirrus. The fuselage of the SR22 is made in two halves using molds. These halves are then joined together in a curing process. The wings are also built as a single piece and are joined to the aircraft using a spar.
When you enter the SR22, the most striking thing is the yoke or lack thereof. The controls are what Cirrus calls a side-yoke, and have more in common with the side-stick controls you find on an Airbus. The interior of the SR22-G6 is a masterclass on how to build a cockpit. It is centered around using technology to improve the flight experience.
The Garmin 1000NXi-based Cirrus Perspective+ flight deck has everything a pilot could want in terms of functionality in its standard setup, and additional systems can be added to elevate the user experience. The entire aircraft is electric and is run by two alternators and batteries that are all independent from each other for redundancy and safety.
The Cirrus SR22 is chock-full of safety features, but the one that put the SR series on the map is the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS). When deployed, this ballistic parachute will safely bring the aircraft down at a rate of 1,680 feet per minute at MTOW. Though this seems like a high rate of descent, there have only been minor injuries during emergencies where the CAPS was used.
After its release in 2001, it took the SR22 two years to become the best-selling general aviation aircraft and has maintained the feat every year since. As of January 2022, the SR series has sold over 8,000 units, with no signs of sales slowing down.
Cirrus SR22 Specifications
The exact specifications of the Cessna Chancellor 414A are:
|Length||26 ft (7.92 m)|
|Height||8 ft 11 in (2.7 m)|
|Wing Span||38 ft 4 in (11.68 m)|
|Wing Area||144.9 ft² (13.46 m²)|
|Cabin Width||49 in (124 cm)|
|Cabin Height||50 in (127 cm)|
|Cabin Volume||136 ft³ (3.85 m³)|
|Maximum Ramp Weight||3,600 lbs (1,633 kg)|
|Maximum Takeoff Weight||3,600 lbs (1,633 kg)|
|Maximum Zero Fuel Weight||3,400 lbs (1,542 kg)|
|Basic Empty Weight||2,272 lbs (1,030 kg)|
|Maximum Payload||1,328 lbs (602.30 kg)||1,246 lbs (565 kg)|
|Baggage Capacity||130 lbs (59 kg)|
|Fuel Capacity||553 lbs (250.84 kg)|
|Payload with Full Fuel||963 lbs (436.80 kg)|
|Power @ 2,700 RPM||310 hp (230 kW)||315 hp|
|Power Loading||11.61 lb/hp||11.43 lb/hp|
|Useable Fuel Capacity||92 US gal (418 l)|
|Maximum Climb Rate @ MTOW & ISA||1270 ft/min (6.45 m/sec)||1,203 ft/min (6.1 m/sec)|
|Maximum Takeoff Altitude||10,000 ft (304.80 m)||N/A|
|Service Ceiling||17,500 ft (5,334 m)||25,000 ft (7,620 m)|
|Takeoff Distance||1082 ft (330 m)||1,517 ft (462 m)|
|Takeoff Distance @ 50 ft Obstacle||1868 ft (569 m)||2,080 ft (634 m)|
|Landing Distance||1,178 ft (359 m)|
|Wake Turbulence Category||L|
|Load Factor Limits||+3.8 G, -1.9 G|
|Maximum Range @ 55 % Power||1,169 nm (2,165 km)||1,021 nm|
|Takeoff Speed (VR)||73 KIAS (135 kmph)|
|Takeoff Speed (V2)||84 KIAS (155 kmph)|
|Maximum Cruise Speed||183 KTAS (339 kmph)||213 KTAS (394 kmph)|
|Normal Cruising Speed||171 KTAS (316 kmph)||183 KTAS (339 kmph)|
|Long Range Cruising Speed||160 KTAS (296 kmph)||N/A|
|Maximum Parachute Deployment Speed||140 KIAS (259 kmph)|
|Maneuvering Speed @ 3,600 lbs (1,633 kg)||140 KIAS (259 kmph)|
|Best Glide||92 KIAS (170 kmph)|
|Stall Speed Full Flaps||60 KIAS (111 kmph)|
|Passengers||4 – 5|
|Engine||Continental IO-550||Continental TSIO-550-K|
|Propeller||78 in (198 cm) Three Blade Hartzell|
|Avionics||Cirrus Perspective Flight Deck (G1000 NXi)|
Cirrus SR22 Performance and Handling
The design of the SR22 ensured it handles well. But when the G3 model was released, the updated wings and improved CG range helped make the aircraft more stable. The new G6 model can reach a maximum cruise speed of 183 kts (339 kmph) thanks to its tried and true Continental IO-550-N heart (TSIO-550-K for the turbo models).
The NA variant has a service ceiling of 17,500 ft (5,334 m) while the turbocharged variant can fly up to 25,000 ft (7,620 m). Unfortunately, the SR22 is not pressurized, but an oxygen system is available to allow customers to fly at high altitudes.
The performance of the SR22’s autopilot experience improves when the Cirrus Executive package is added. This package adds a yaw damper to the aircraft, the yaw damper can be controlled by the autopilot improving the flight experience.
Cirrus SR22 Maintenance Schedule
An SR22 has a useful life of 12,000 hours, which the company claims are equivalent to 60 years of use. Every 10 years the CAPS will need to be repacked and serviced to ensure that the system will work in case of emergency.
Both the Continental IO-550-N engine on the naturally aspirated SR22 and the TSIO-550-K on the turbocharged model have an overhaul time of 2,000 hours.
The overhaul cost for an SR22TN without the turbocharger overhaul is $35,000, when the turbocharger overhaul is included the costs increase to $40,000. A factory rebuilt engine for an SR22TN costs an average of $61,700, while a brand new factory engine costs $70,950. For a naturally aspirated SR22, a new factory engine costs $45,450 while a factory rebuilt engine costs between $38,800 and $40,300.
Cirrus SR22 Price
The SR22 is one of the most capable single-engine aircraft in existence. It’s marketed as a luxury aircraft that can outperform the competition in both safety and performance. But it doesn’t come cheap.
A brand new 2022 Cirrus SR22-G6 costs $722,900 without any additional features. There are additional packages that can be added to the aircraft at the customer’s discretion to improve its performance which we’ll discuss later. The GTS version of the SR22 includes all the upgrade packages the company has to offer. This version costs $902,900 with the icing package and $872,900 without.
Cirrus SR22 Modifications and Upgrades
The Cirrus SR22-G6 is jam-packed with features in its standard configuration, but Cirrus is known for luxury aircraft that go the extra mile both for passengers and pilots. The manufacturer offers five optional packages that customers add to their aircraft to improve performance and the flying experience.
SR22 Package Details
This package adds two main features to the aircraft. The first is a yaw damper and the second is Cirrus’ Enhanced Vision System (EVS). The yaw damper enables the autopilot to control the aircraft’s vertical axis, preventing slip and skid to provide a better ride for the occupants and reduce pilot workload. The EVS increases situational awareness by using infrared imaging to provide more information on the MFD such as cloud tops, terrain, etc.
This package adds what Cirrus calls Active Traffic and eTAWS. The former actively interrogates the transponders of nearby aircraft and improves the ADS-B on the MFD. eTAWS is a predictive terrain avoidance system. Both systems provide the pilot with visual and audio feedback to alert them of any threat.
This package upgrades the size of the Cirrus Perspective+ flight deck’s screen from 10 inches to 12 inches. Additional features include Jeppesen ChartView and SurfaceWatch. Improves IFR flying by overlaying approaches and airspaces over the MFD to reduce pilot workload. Also warns the pilot of hazards visually and aurally.
Certified Flight Into Known Ice
This anti-icing system is based on a TKS-based system and releases anti-icing fluid over the wings using its dual tanks, which have an automatic switching function for when one is empty. To cope with various icing conditions the system has three rates of adjustment to ensure that fluid is being used in an optimum manner. A Tanis Avionics and Engine Pre-Heater is included to have the aircraft ready to fly in freezing temperatures.
Allows customers to add a carbon fiber or metallic paint to the aircraft available in a combination of 12 colors and two dual-tone designs.
Factory Additional Options
Cirrus also offers add-ons that aren’t part of the main packages as well. These smaller add-ons are for customers that want to pick and choose the upgrades that make their aircraft better. These add-ons range from visual customization to performance upgrades.
The most popular options are the factory air conditioning unit and the built-in oxygen system for high-altitude operations. There is an option to switch out the standard metal propeller for a composite propeller built by Hartzell to Cirrus’ specifications.
Finally, customers can opt to have their aircraft’s interior, exterior, or both, customized to their liking by the Cirrus Xi design team to make their Cirrus SR22-G6 bespoke.
The pricing list for the packages and options are listed in the table below:
|Certified Flight Into Known Ice (CFIKI)||59,900|
|Cirrus Global Connect||15,900|
|Built-in Oxygen System||10,900|
|Hartzell 3-Blade Composite Propeller||12,900|
|Tanis Avionics and Engine Pre-Heater||2,490|
|Custom Xi Interior and Exterior||74,900|
|Custom Xi Exterior||44,900|
|Custom Xi Interior||49,900|
Being the best-selling general aviation aircraft since 2003 means that aftermarket parts and upgrades are plentiful. A 2001 SR22 can be outfitted with avionics and performance upgrades that can essentially make it a 2022 model.
The most significant aftermarket upgrade that can be made to an SR22 is to turbocharge a normally-aspirated variant. This increases the horsepower of the aircraft and allows it to operate at a maximum service ceiling of 25,000 ft. The caveat of turbocharging the aircraft is more expensive maintenance and a reduced payload because of the extra weight of the turbocharger and associated systems.
Another popular upgrade that significantly improves the performance of the aircraft is an avionics upgrade. There are two main options for a complete overhaul of the avionics, communications equipment, and the autopilot. The Garmin has expanded support for the G1000 NXi to be retrofitted to many aircraft, older SR22s included. The competing Avidyne Release 9 system is equally capable, but has less support and popularity, but is cheaper than Garmin’s offering.
Cirrus SR22 Resale Value
Cirrus aircraft are extremely popular and maintain their value. Customers who can’t afford a brand new SR22 often purchase used SR22s and upgrade them. The size of the community and support for both the factory and aftermarket suppliers for parts and maintenance means that the aircraft won’t become obsolete anytime soon.
The oldest SR22 we could find for sale was a 2001 model with 3,440 hours on the frame, and a factory-remanufactured engine that has accumulated 1,500 hours. In addition, the parachute had been repacked in 2021, which is a significant cost saving for a future owner. This example was listed at $289,900.
A 2002 model with a total time of 1,751 on the frame, engine, and propeller with one owner and no damage history is priced at $259,900. It might seem strange that this model is priced less than the model above. However, the parachute is due to be repacked in 2023 which makes it less desirable.
A more realistic example of a secondhand aircraft is this 2012 SR22-G3 GTS. The aircraft has a total of 735 flight hours on the frame and engine. It has also been upgraded with Berringer brakes, a composite propeller, an electronic ignition system, and new fuel injectors. This GTS version is also equipped with the Flight Into Known Icing package. It is listed at $649,000.
The newest model we could find was a 2020 SR22-G6 GTS with a total of 250 hours on the aircraft. It is priced at $1,085,000.
Cirrus SR22 Common Problems
Most of the problems that the SR22 are associated with the older models. One of the main complaints was the vibration from the engine, which the company fixed by adding two more engine mounts.
Another issue was the inability to access the CAPS system when the chute needed to be repacked. The lack of an access door meant that the fuselage would have to be cut open to get to the system. Cirrus would take until the fourth generation to add an access door, but that issue has also been solved.
The most alarming issue was the higher than normal fatality rate in SR22 aircraft. Even with the CAPS system, accidents were more common in the SR22 than in its competitors. This was later attributed to a lack of training in the aircraft. The training program has since been revised, after which the rate dropped.
Cirrus SR22 Insurance Options
Aircraft insurance comes is broken into two categories: liability coverage and hull coverage. Liability coverage is mandatory by law and is used to cover damage caused by the operation of the aircraft. This includes injuries to passengers and persons on the ground, as well as property damage and lawyer’s fees in case of a lawsuit.
Hull coverage is optional is mainly for aircraft owners. Hull coverage is used to insure the aircraft from damage. The payout is mainly used to repair the aircraft, but in cases where the aircraft is totaled, the insurer will pay the policyholder the amount the aircraft was insured for.
The cost of an insurance plan varies due to many factors such as the type and safety record of the aircraft, the area and routes flown, and if the aircraft is used for personal or commercial use. One of the main factors that can drastically affect the cost of an insurance plan is pilot experience.
Insurance companies define an experienced pilot as an individual who has at least an instrument-rated private pilot with a total of 750 hours and at least 50 hours on type.
Among the 10 insurance providers for Cirrus SR22s, the average amount for liability coverage and hull coverage is $1,000,000 and $245,000, respectively. For liability coverage only, an experienced pilot can expect to pay between $500 and $650 per year, and less experienced pilots will be charged between $900 to $1,142.
When hull coverage is also included, the premiums for a qualified pilot increase to between $2,624 and $3,153 a year. Less qualified pilots will have to pay between $4,000 and $5,000 annually.
Cirrus SR22 Operating Costs
According to My Aircraft Cost.com, a Cirrus SR22-G6 being used for 450 hours annually will cost an average of $68,332 in fixed costs and $73,858 in variable costs. The cost per hour is $315 while a gallon of fuel is $5.
One of the biggest maintenance costs that owners of the SR22 is the parachute repack that has to be done every 10 years. The system has to be checked every 10 years to ensure that it will activate when the occasion calls for it. This procedure has to be completed at a Cirrus authorized service center and currently costs between $15,000 to $17,000.
Cirrus SR22 Variants
Over its 21-year production run, the SR22 has spawned eight variants including the original.
SR22-G2 (Generation Two)
The second generation SR22 was released in 2004. The changes made were small, but improved the quality of the aircraft. A common complaint of the first generation was engine noise and vibration, so Cirrus used six mounting points instead of four. Changes were made to the fuselage to make maintenance easier and the interior was made more comfortable and included shoulder harness airbags as standard.
This is a turbo-normalized variant of the SR22 that allowed the aircraft to fly up to altitudes as high as 25,000 ft. A Tornado Alley Turbo was bolted on and used to maintain sea-level pressure throughout its flight envelope, there were no other performance gains made. This setup put very little strain on the engine in comparison to conventional turbocharging.
SR22-G3 (Generation Three)
The third iteration of the SR22 was introduced in 2007. The wing was made lighter by 50 lbs (23 kg), and the size of the in-built fuel tank was increased to hold 11 US gal (40 l) more than the previous generation. This increased the range of the aircraft by 18 percent.
The wing root fairings were also redesigned to produce less drag and now had LED recognition lights. The dihedral angle of the wings was also increased to improve stability and handling. On the models with the CFIKI package, the amount of fluid held was increased to provide 30 and 15 minutes more flight time in normal and max modes, respectively.
The landing gear was redesigned to increase the height of the aircraft by two inches (5.1 cm). This provided more ground clearance for the propeller, and also increased the center of gravity envelope.
In June 2010, Cirrus introduced the SR22 Turbo which featured a ground-boosted turbocharger. The engine on this model is a Continental TSIO-550-K producing 315 hp, five more than the standard version. The SR22T has done away with propeller control and has a fixed 2,500 RPM prop.
SR22-G5 (Generation Five)
Cirrus introduced the fourth generation of the SR22 in 2013, but unceremoniously skipped the G4 designation, and instead called it the G5 which was available in both NA and Turbo variants. The G5 had a lot of improvements over the G3 and introduced new features.
The biggest change was the increased MTOW of 3,600 lbs (1,633 kg) up from 3,400 lbs (1,542 kg). Some of the features included in the GTS model of the G3 now came standard in the G5. The CAPS system was also overhauled, the deployment speed was increased by 7 kts from 133 kts to 140 kts, and the ignition for the rocket was switched over to an electric system from a pyrotechnic system. The CAPS system now had an access door which means that the fuselage no longer had to be cut during parachute repacks.
SR22-G6 (Generation Six)
The latest and fifth generation of the SR22 was released in 2017. The only major change was the introduction of the new avionics system called the Cirrus Perspective +. The system is based on the Garmin G1000NXi and has 10-inch panels with an option to upgrade to 12 inches. The processor is also significantly more powerful than the standard system, allowing the system to work smoothly in all conditions.
SR22-TRAC (Training Aircraft)
This model is built for training and has a simplified cockpit to help ease new pilots into the SR22 systems.
Cirrus SR22 Competing Aircraft
The Cessna TTx is also known as the Cessna 400 was introduced in 2004 and is considered to be the closest competitor to the SR22. Like the SR22 the TTx is mainly built from composite materials, The TTx is powered by a turbocharged Continental TSIO-550-C which produces 310 hp (230 kW) at a peak RPM of 2,600. Though it shared many of the same features as the SR22, the TTx never had the same traction as the SR22. In 2018, Cessna axed the aircraft.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Why does the parachute have to be repacked every 10 years?
Answer: The parachute assembly has a rocket that is fired to deploy the parachute effectively. The rocket has its own fuel source which has a limited lifetime. In addition, all the parts of the assembly have to be checked to ensure smooth operation.
Question: What turbo-normalizing?
Answer: Turbo normalizing or altitude turbocharging is used to increase the service ceiling of an aircraft. In a turbo-normalized aircraft, the turbo doesn’t add any extra power. It simply maintains sea-level manifold pressure (around 29 to 30 inches) at higher altitudes, which allowed the aircraft to perform the same throughout its flight envelope.
Question: What is a ground-boosted turbocharger?
Answer: A ground-boosted turbocharger is more akin to the conventional turbo setup you find in cars. The turbo is used mainly to increase power output, while the benefit of flying at higher altitudes is a side effect of the compressed air the engine receives.
Ground-boosted turbochargers can increase the manifold pressure to a maximum of 45 inches. The compression ratio of the pistons is usually lower than their naturally aspirated counterparts. In the SR22T, the compression ratio is 7.5 to 1.
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