Cirrus Aircraft has introduced its lineup for 2009, and the new airplanes come with some very impressive available features. The big news is a known ice protection system, but there's a raft of other recently announced upgrades, too, with a whole host of advanced acronyms available, EVS, SVT and FIKI, among many others, making the Cirrus SR22, for the time being, the most technologically sophisticated production piston single-engine airplane in the world, by a nose.
And Cirrus can rightfully brag about its commitment to innovation. The parade of new technologies Cirrus has brought to its high-performance fixed-gear single is mind-boggling, at least based on what we all thought we knew about small airplanes 20 years ago. And customers are demanding it all, and they're paying a pretty penny for it, too. The top of the line Cirrus, the Turbo GTS with all the options, goes for around $650,000, though lower priced and still remarkably well-equipped models can be had for less.
Straightening Out the Cirrus Lineup
As the Cirrus list of options has grown, the designations for the various models have gotten confusing for many customers (and journalists). Recognizing this, the company has created a trio of classifications for both the Cirrus SR20 and the Cirrus SR22, splitting its lineup into the "S," "GS" and "GTS" option package groups. (Some options are not available on the SR20.)
The "S" seems as though it might stand for "simple" or "standard," but these airplanes are still nicely equipped. They feature 10-inch displays and the S-Tec 55SR autopilot. These are the airplanes that Cirrus has traditionally sold to flight schools and other fleet operators.
The "GS" group is a step up, and boasts 12-inch screens, the S-Tec 55X autopilot, basic ice protection (more on that distinction in a bit) and some higher-end interior and exterior styling touches.
The top of the line is the "GTS," which adds dual AHRS, the Garmin GFC 700 autopilot, synthetic vision, enhanced vision, known ice protection, and top-of-the-line interior and exterior options. These are the airplanes that most customers order.
Flight Into Known Icing
The biggest news is that Cirrus now offers a certified flight into known ice (FIKI) TKS system for its SR22 lineup. The system is a $24,500 increase over the basic ice protection system, which is standard on the GS and GTS models.
The purpose of any anti-ice/deice system requires little explanation. In a nutshell, it's there to keep the airframe clear of ice so the aerodynamics (and pilots' view out the window) are as unaffected by the buildup as possible. This is, as with much in aviation, much easier said than done. And as with so many things, it's how the new system does it that counts. The details make all the difference.
As you probably know, the Cirrus SR22 has been available with a noncertified TKS ice protection package for several years now -- Cirrus now refers to this system as its "basic" TKS package. To get that system approved, all Cirrus had to do was show that its installation didn't introduce any hazard to flight.