Generation 5 Cirrus SR22
The one place they took a hit was with the parachute, which is all-new. Because the airplane weighs as much as 200 pounds more, the parachute has to lower the airplane with the same dynamic forces on touchdown, so the chute has to be bigger: It went from 55 feet in diameter to 65 feet in diameter. An added benefit of the larger chute is that the airplane will now touch down at lighter weights at very low speeds. While the handle, cables and system of channeled webbing that make up the extraction system are the same, the rocket had to be bigger because the chute itself is bigger and heavier and needed more power to fire it. The new rocket is longer and more powerful. Cirrus also went with a new firing system, which makes use of solid-state ignition instead of an incendiary device, as on the former models.
Other Weighty Gains
Another big plus with the G5 is the improvement in two critical airspeeds. The first of those is max flap extension, which increases from a too-low 119 knots for the first-notch to a fantastic 150 knots. The second notch of flaps, formerly set at a max deployment speed of 104 knots, has climbed a modest 6 knots to 110 knots but has gained an additional 3.5 degrees of extension in order to keep landing speeds low. The strengthening of the main spar helped provide the structure needed for the increase, as did improvements to the flap hinge and hinge attach points.
The speed for the deployment of the parachute has also increased, from 133 to 140 knots, which adds to the margin of safety for deployments.
There are some trade-offs to the weight increase and all that went into it. Liftoff speeds (which are calculated at max weight, as most specifications are) have increased from about 72 knots indicated to about 80 knots, increasing takeoff run but only by about 60 feet. The stall speed increased from 58 knots to 60 knots, and the best rate and angle of climb both increased marginally. Landing performance figures are virtually identical to those of previous SR22s.
In terms of climb and cruise performance, the G5 airplane will climb a bit less quickly (same wing, same power plant, higher weight), taking around eight instead of seven minutes to get to 8,000 feet at max weight. Likewise, the range decreases by about 50 nautical miles on average (of course, range figures are all dependent on weight, winds, equipment and other conditions).
Cruise speeds theoretically will be affected too, though in my tests (and according to the pilots I know who’ve flown the G5), it was hard to see any differences. At 9,000 feet in the turbo (with FIKI, which cuts a couple of knots off the top end), I was seeing 175 knots true. At 24,000 feet, a friend reported seeing 205 knots. The new model will burn slightly more fuel for the same performance.
The new model also rolls into the standard package a number of features that were recently introduced on other models. The Garmin GFC 700 autopilot (you thought it was standard, didn’t you?) now is in fact standard. Also, the remarkably accurate fuel sender units are there too. They are so accurate, they are used to send CAS messages apprising the pilot of any coming fuel imbalance; at eight gallons of imbalance, you get an alert; at 10 gallons, you get a caution; and at 12 gallons and beyond, it’s a master warning. The fifth seat (which Cirrus calls 60/40 Flex Seating) saw universal adoption by buyers over the past year. It is now in every SR22 (SR20s as well, actually). ADS-B is also standard.
The lineman at my airport spotted one other new feature, the redesigned wheel pants. As far as I could tell, they are completely unrelated to the gross weight increase, and they don’t seem to affect the airplane’s performance either. But they do have access doors for the inflator valve, which explains why the line guy spotted them right away. On older SR22s, it’s a pain to inflate the tires.
G5 In Flight
I had an extended opportunity to fly the Vision Inspired Generation 5 SR22 over the course of two weeks, flying it on cross-country trips, on local hops and even on training flights.
The creature comforts of the model are remarkable. The seats are the most comfortable yet (though they could use another recline notch between the “bolt straight” and “kicking back” settings). The soundproofing and fit and finish are better than ever too. The doors on the G5 (an issue with some older airplanes) worked like a charm, and the stylish tone of the interior hits the perfect note.