The Corvalis TT is a turbocharged, four-seat, carbon fiber airplane with just about everything on it that you might expect on a no-holds-barred luxury single. It comes with the Garmin G1000 cockpit featuring all the goodies you've come to expect, including synthetic vision, the very handy keypad, traffic, terrain, engine monitoring, a sophisticated climate control system and the smooth and capable Garmin GFC 700 autoflight system. You also get built-in oxygen, Cessna's Evade electro-expulsive deicing system and premium interior details.
The engine in the Corvalis, a Continental TSIO-550, used to be a distinguishing feature, but now Cirrus offers essentially the same engine in its SR22T.
As well-equipped as it is, there are a few noteworthy goodies missing on the Corvalis. The displays in the Corvalis are the 10.4-inch-diagonal screens, which are smaller than the Perspective displays in the Cirrus SR22T by a couple of inches. While the Corvalis is available with two forms of ice protection, the Evade electro-expulsive or the TKS wet wing, neither system is approved for flight into known icing. Nor does the Corvalis have a parachute, though how much of a factor that is, if at all, depends on the pilot.
In all of those areas, the latest SR22 has more options. On the Cirrus, you can get the FIKI anti-ice/deice system. Its Perspective cockpit, a version of the same G1000 system as in the Corvalis, features 12-inch displays, and the Cirrus, you might have heard, comes with a whole-airplane recovery parachute as standard equipment.
The Corvalis is a faster airplane at most altitudes, though not by a lot. They are both roomy airplanes and very comfortable to fly in for long legs. Both have available XM Weather (and entertainment), built-in oxygen and Rosen sun visors.
The side controllers are quite different. The Corvalis has a true side stick, which moves just like you'd expect a joystick to move, while the Cirrus has a side yoke, which moves like a little yoke, with forward and aft and side-to-side pull — placed over against the sidewall. The Cirrus side yoke is second nature to me, since I've flown with it for many hundreds of hours, but the Corvalis side stick is a more pleasing device to use. The Corvalis also handles better, with better control harmony and a more fluid feel than in the Cirrus, though to be honest, I don't typically spend a lot of time hand-flying either airplane.
The Corvalis also has speed brakes, a slightly higher first-notch flap speed and 10 gallons more fuel, for better range than the SR22T by 100 nm or more. I also get the feeling sitting in the Corvalis that it is a well-built machine. This sense is the result of a hundred little things in the interior, the arrangement of the switches, the fit and finish of the panels and the carpeting, and the shape and curve of the glass.
Speaking of doors, the portals on the Corvalis are very nicely executed. They open up on cartridges, and you can taxi the airplane with the doors open for air-cooling. Cessna has leather straps hanging from the door handles so that shorter pilots can still reach the doors to close them from a seated position. Once you pull the door closed, you then secure it by moving the very substantial handle to the closed and locked position. This moves a pair of steel pins into position on either side of the door, giving you a very positive closing indication. In fact, I think it would be impossible to close the door halfway and have it come open again, as long as you seat the handle properly.
The digital environmental-control system on the Corvalis is easy to use. Just pick a temperature and fan speed, and it takes care of the rest. You can keep the air-conditioner running on takeoff and landing, and on our warm fall-weather flight, the AC kept the cabin very comfortable.
On the ramp the Corvalis is much sportier than it seems in photographs. In many ways, it's analogous to a luxury performance automobile: fast, relatively nimble, stylish and still remarkably utilitarian.
Chris and I arrived early on a Tuesday morning to pick up the airplane and take it back to Houston. We threw our bags in back — no need to swipe the card for the extra $50 fee, thank you very much. The rear baggage compartment of the Corvalis — or should I say compartments since there's a "hat" rack too — is large and can hold 120 pounds, 100 on the main floor and 20 on the hat rack.
We did a thorough walk-around, climbed aboard, donned the Bose and taxied out. The sun had been up for an hour, the pattern was pretty quiet, and before long we were on our way and cleared to 12,000 feet toward the northwest.