What’s a perfect day for a pilot in January? Clear skies, calm winds, and temperatures just far enough above the basement to enable both a pain-free walkaround and stellar engine performance.
We had all of these for the demo flight we took in the new 2022 Cirrus SR G6 this week, so we did what clearly any pilots would do.
We pointed the airplane toward lunch.
Destination: Hummingbird Café
In my quest to notch every worthy airport restaurant in the Mid-Atlantic region, I still had not made it to the Hummingbird Café at the Greater Cumberland Regional Airport (KCBE) in western Maryland—though I’ve landed at the field several times over the past two decades.
With a 3D preview of the overhead view, approach, and traffic in the area on ForeFlight, we made a plan to do our test flying on the way and our photo work on the broad, friendly ramp at the airport once we were sufficiently nourished.
The Hummingbird sits tucked behind the main terminal and FBO building—but the folks on unicom will give you progressives so you can find their ramp. It was almost full by the time we taxied in, with a gaggle of retired airline pilots having flown in in their various Mooney and Piper mounts ahead of us.
Our own gaggle pronounced the Black-and-Bleu burger, taco salad, and curried butternut squash soup worth the trip. We skipped the Crazy Cooter burger—you can find out what that is for yourself. Also: they offer cake to go, and the red velvet one perched on the countertop cake stand called my name…
Beating the Book?
The book won’t show the difference in the performance tables, but after our test flight I can confirm it: You can feel the change in drag reduction offered up by Cirrus’ 2022 SR G6 model in both a couple of knots on the airspeed tape as well as under your fingertips as you preflight the new airplane.
How is this so? Cirrus went after drag reduction in pursuit of optimizing the G6 for this year—and the team targeting two primary areas: the FIKI panels on the leading edges of the wings and horizontal stab to protect those regions during flight into known icing, and the undersides of the wheel pants.
You’ve got to pay attention on your walkaround to find the changes, but they are affirmative.
The result? No change to the main text of the POH in the Performance section, but rather look to the aircraft supplements for the FIKI installation and other components. You just won’t have the same drag penalty for installing ice protection on the SR22T—and we saw about 2 knots better on true airspeed during our test flight—an average of 181 ktas at 8,500 ft msl.
The seam-sealant feels a bit rough as you run a hand across it—but it translates into something pretty slick.
The wheel pants also don’t look much different at first glance. That’s because the fine-tuning involved narrowing the gaps on the undersides of the pants around the tires, reducing the volume of air that would be sucked in during flight. You have to place your smartphone on the ground and take a picture to get a real sense of the change—or run your hand along the opening.
Our climbout in the way-lower-than-ISA conditions (minus 8C/17F going through 3,500 ft) registered in 112 percent power and a climb rate that shuttled between 1,800 and 2,400 fpm. So, there’s one good thing about the cold.
More from that Hands-On Preflight
Little things make a difference in another update as well. It sounds like a simple thing, but previous models of the SR22T G6 had a more conventional baggage door with a retaining strap and a lock that required the pilot to physically turn the key to open it up for loading.
Now, the door is part of the remote lock/unlock system—and it stays unlocked when the main cabin doors are unlocked. A gas-charged strut goes past 90 degrees and holds the door open in the breeze, simplifying that part of preflight and postflight.
And yeah, there’s a super-cool step light that helps you see where you’re stepping in low-light or nighttime operations.
What About that Color?
In the midst of the world’s collective bellyache when it comes to the global supply chain, Cirrus has found a couple of bright spots, according to SR series program manager Ivy McIver, who flew in to demo the new model for us.
I hope I don’t jinx them both by sharing this—but Garmin’s Perspective+ and other avionics components have streamed into Cirrus’ manufacturing facilities in Duluth, Minnesota, at a steady pace throughout the past two years, keeping the lines going.
And while some interior parts—fabrics, in particular—have run into snags, Sherwin-Williams has delivered on the overall exterior paint schedule. In fact, the aircraft coatings supplier worked with Cirrus’ design department extensively on dreaming up a wide-ranging palette of colors—that go far beyond the ubiquitous Corsa Red and Cobalt Blue you see Cirri draped in on ramps across the country.
One of those marquee colors for 2022 is Himalayan Salt. Unless you’re a foodie, the name may not resonate—and if you see photos of the airplane, you might think it’s just pink.
Well…it can be in some light. But when we looked at it against a snowy background, its depth allowed it to transition from salmon to a rich charcoal gray, offering a varying view from several angles.
McIver said Cirrus has not only expanded the paint options, but also opened up the mix-and-max choices of exterior and interior colors, fabrics, and other details so that the 2022 models (serial number 8500 on up) will reflect their owners’ individual tastes more precisely.
And it makes sense to give those lucky owners free rein. All in all—and all-in Arrivée package we flew carries a price tag of $1,222,900—the 2022 models sweeten the deal.