When you look back at the historical arc of light general aviation, a few airplanes stand out as being so important that their introductions changed the way we flew and the way we looked at flying. At the certain risk of leaving out a few favorites, you can’t talk about the history of light aviation without bringing up the Piper Cub, the Beech Bonanza and Baron, the Cessna 172, 182, 210 and 206, the Piper Cherokee and Malibu and ... well, I’ll let you fill in the rest yourselves. Suffice it to say, however, there aren’t many more.
My only point is that, when compiling such a list, it’s impossible to leave off the Cirrus SR22. I would argue that it is an airplane that, like the Bonanza and Skyhawk before it, changed the face of the light GA marketplace more than any other airplane of its time, both in the way we look at what an airplane should be and in the way in which manufacturers built and marketed their products. With its feature-rich, high-performance four-place single, Cirrus put the pressure on its competitors to offer models that were roomy, fast and technologically advanced and that featured a wide variety of standard and optional safety utilities. That’s quite an impression to have made in a relatively short time.
Even after its introduction, the biggest challenger to the piston-single status quo remained Cirrus, which continued to offer upgrades to its high-end single. Anniversaries like the SR22’s 10-year milestone can be good for a little perspective on how a design has changed and why. Looking at the Cirrus SR22 through this lens, it’s easy to see two things: that the airplane has changed substantially in the past 10 years and that it is a better airplane today than ever.
Recognizing this fact, Cirrus created a special 10th anniversary version of the SR22 called the Limited Commemorative Edition (LCE). And limited it is. Cirrus plans to build only 10 of the airplanes. Chances are that, by the time you read this, they might be gone.
In terms of technology, the Cirrus SR22 T LCE (the “T” model boasts the factory Continental turbocharged TSIO-550 engine) offers nothing new, which is to say it’s loaded with high-tech features. It’s got known icing capability, synthetic vision, enhanced vision, traffic, terrain, terminal charts, satellite weather and entertainment, the remarkable Perspective by Garmin avionics suite, the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), air conditioning, lightweight composite prop and much more. In addition, the 10 LCE airplanes boast a sharp paint scheme and the slickest SR22 interior I’ve seen.