Be that as it may, the STC approach has several far less theoretical advantages, including lower developmental costs, easier certification and a faster route to market. And the Tornado Alley installation offers greatly reduced engine management. As I found out on my flight, while the SR22 Turbo Charged isn't a single-lever airplane, it's about as close as it can get with two levers.
The turbocharging package includes a built-in, four-place oxygen system by Precise Flight; we used the nice Precise Flight silicon masks with built-in mics. There's also another pair of masks, without the mics, for the backseat passengers. And four nasal cannulas, which lower oxygen consumption considerably, are stand-ard too. The system is easy to use. A single switch activates the flow of oxygen in the airplane, and an LED status board keeps you apprised of the remaining supply and even alerts you to when oxygen is required. No one likes masks or cannulas, but short of a pressurized system, this is about as good as it gets.
One downside of the turbocharged airplane is that because of space limitations under the cowl-the cowl is unmodified- you can't get it with air conditioning. A mitigating factor is that the airplane climbs to cool air so fast, you might not miss the lack of A/C as much.
The other very important part of the system is the new Hartzell three-blade composite propeller, certified just last summer, which represents the second generation of composite design from legendary prop maker Hartzell. The new prop boasts a number of improvements over the first generation and is a natural on the SR22 (turbo or not). The blade material is now a combination of Kevlar and carbon, as opposed to the earlier all-Kevlar blades, allowing for a thinner blade section at the tips, greatly improving efficiency and even rivaling metal blades, which can be made quite thin at the tips. The co-molded steel shanks have better retention qualities than those on the first generation models, so they don't need secondary fasteners (bolts and screws on the previous model). Of course, the obvious advantage to the new prop is that it greatly cuts weight-the blades are 30 percent lighter than metal blades and overall the prop saves 14 pounds. But from my point of view the best part is that it really cuts down on vibration. The difference is very noticeable from the cockpit. With the Kevlar and carbon fiber prop, the airplane seems much smoother, especially on takeoff and climb-out, and the noise signature seems different too, smoother and slightly quieter, as well.
Like everybody else, I'd been aching to fly the new model since Cirrus unveiled it at AirVenture last summer, but the company was so busy certifying it, it wasn't until the AOPA Convention in Palm Springs that anybody got the chance. It was, in short, worth the wait.
I've been flying SR22s of every description for several years now; I'm currently flying G2 and GTS versions with PlaneSmart, a Texas shared-ownership company. Non-turbocharged SR22s feel pretty familiar to me, so I was curious to see just how different the new model would seem and how difficult it would be to master whatever new operating procedures would be required.
As it turned out, there was almost no challenge to it at all.
It was a beautiful early November morning in the Low Desert of Southern California on the day when I went flying with Cirrus demo pilot Steve Noldin. To get away from the insanely dense air traffic at Palm Springs, we flew out of Bermuda Dunes, a few air minutes to the east. It was only slightly less insane there. Our mission was to see just how the airplane flew up high, really high, so we wasted no time at the lower altitudes I already knew all about. After all, there is no airframe difference, and because the engine is turbonormalized - meaning that the turbo keeps ambient pressure as you climb - there's no increase in performance at sea level, except for the added acceleration you get from the prop.