It was at the AOPA Convention in San Jose last fall that Cirrus introduced its enhanced vision (EVS) product, called Perspective EVS. Manufactured by Forward Vision, the camera that Cirrus chose for its EVS in the SR22 -- it's now available in the SR20, too -- is the EVS-600, a very economical infrared-plus-visible spectrum sensor. The camera is mounted on the lower side of the left wing, where it is aimed ahead and slightly down.
The goals of the EVS in the Cirrus SR22 are very modest. Unlike the conformal displays on a head-up display system, the EVS on the SR22 is a so-called head-down system and is displayed on the MFD. It's intended not for flying reference but simply for advisory purposes. EVS is not shown on the PFD. And unlike HUDs, the EVS in the SR22 isn't meant to give pilots any credit towards lower minimums. It's just a tool to help you see a little more outside the window under certain conditions.
In this case, the best use for the EVS is arguably to see better at night or in low light situations, when you can see a great deal more through the sensor than with the naked eye. The display is shown on the aux page on the Garmin MFD in either windowed or full screen mode. Like everybody else, I like the full screen view, though I wish it were easier to pull it up.
It was a fairly bright cloudy day when I flew with the EVS, and its benefit to us on that day was minimal. On our ILS approach to San Antonio we broke out at around 600 feet agl, and the visibility below the overcast was several miles, so there was little more to see there. We were able to see the landing environment a few seconds earlier on the EVS than with our eyes, but I don't think it would have made a difference between being able to land or not. Plus, you have to factor in the inadvisability of adjusting your scan to take in the MFD while in the middle of flying a low approach.
Still, the image quality was good, a little grainy with the mist we were flying in, but it had much better contrast than I'd expected. And combining the infrared and the visible spectrum was remarkably effective, mostly because the runway lights showed up bright and clear. That would be a huge benefit on a visual approach at night, especially on dark nights and into black holes.
Potential buyers who want an extra edge in their instrument flying and especially those who fly a lot at night would be smart to look into EVS. The system is a $14,900 option.
New Styling Options and More
When it comes to putting new technology in the cockpit, Cirrus is clearly an industry leader, and its customers love the gadgets. But Cirrus knows that its owners care about style, too, and it has consistently given them interiors that draw attention to the quality and ramp appeal of the ride.