I swapped frequencies on the 430 and made my call to the controller. "Austin Departure, Cirrus Two Four Seven Sierra Romeo out of one-point-six for 4,000, one-five-zero on the heading."
"Cirrus 247SR, roger, climb and maintain 4,000. And Seven Sierra Romeo, uh, we have you down for 25,000 feet for your final altitude. Is that right ... ?"
Reid Nelson, Cirrus' Dallas sales rep and my demo pilot that day, looked over at me and rolled his eyes slightly. "I get that all the time," he said over the intercom.
I keyed the mic, "Uh, roger, Austin, two-five-zero is correct. This is one of the new turbocharged SR22s."
"Well, that's a first for me, Seven Sierra Romeo" the controller came back. "Turn left 040, climb and maintain one-two-thousand."
While Reid might be getting that question for a while longer, it probably won't be more than a few months before controllers everywhere are used to sending SR22s to the flight levels.
Turbocharging just sells. As soon as Cirrus introduced the turbocharged G2 version last summer, it started getting orders for the model in much greater numbers than it expected. It's not just a Cirrus phenomenon. Over the past four decades just about every new, turbocharged version of a good normally aspirated airplane immediately began outselling the original, usually by a wide margin.
And so it has been with the SR22, first with the G2 and now with the G3. A normally aspirated G3 will still be available, but we'd guess it will sell in much smaller numbers than the turbocharged version.
One big reason for this is that with the G3, the turbocharged airplane will also be available with air conditioning, which was not the case with the G2 turbo. For pilots who are based in hot places, deciding between turbocharging and air conditioning was a bit of a devil's bargain. With the G3, you can get both.
The airplane we flew for this report, however, didn't have A/C. At press time Cirrus was still working on the installation and the certification. It was expected to be available sometime this fall. The system will be electric, with the condenser and battery situated toward the back of the airplane in order to help keep the CG aft and give better elevator control.
G3: Just New or Really Better?
There are, according to Cirrus-I didn't count them-more than 700 individual changes to the airplane.
And, unlike any of the previous upgrades to the SR22, the G3 boasts substantial aerodynamic changes. And those changes aren't just skin deep. The G3 simply flies better than the G2.
I've got a few hundred hours in SR22s at this point, and I've always enjoyed flying the airplane. That's because they're roomy, comfortable, well equipped and fast. In terms of handling, however, they never felt great, until now. The new G3 handles beautifully.
Mostly that's because of an all-new wing. It's almost identical in shape and span to the one on previous models, but it has a lot more dihedral, which added enough stability that Cirrus was able to eliminate the rudder/aileron interconnect. This greatly enhances the feel of the airplane, giving it much more pleasing flying qualities.
The wingspan is the same, but the new wing features a longer internal spar, so it can have shorter tips, which freed up room internally for more fuel, an additional 11 gallons. It's a welcome improvement, especially since the added fuel, and, hence, range, comes without a resultant decrease in full fuel payload. That's because the new wing is lighter, to the tune of around 66 pounds, or around 11 gallons worth of weight. Free lunch.
There are new features on the wing, too, including better recognition and taxi lights, a longer, continuous TKS leading edge, with the stall strip deiced, as well, and improved aerodynamic shapes on the trailing edge of the airfoils. And the fresh air vent is no longer situated on the wing root, a good, quick way to tell G2 from G3.
Two other noticeable differences are the length of the gear and the prop. The G3 sits about three inches higher than previous models, and it employs the wide-chord composite Hartzell prop introduced last summer on the G2 Turbo. Cirrus made the rear steps longer and lowered the handhold to keep it easy to get up on the higher-situated wing when boarding.