A Cirrus SR22 Photo History

A retrospective photo gallery of one of the world's most successful single-engine pistons.

Like early models of many well-known airplane types, the first Cirrus SR22s felt lighter than they do today. In part, that's because they were light, and in part that's because Cirrus has learned over the years how to make an airplane be both substantial feeling, which we pilots like, while staying light.

They also felt very different from most other light airplanes because they were, well, different from them in many important regards. They used side-yokes, as I mention in the main story, differential braking and a rudder/aileron interconnect (gone on today’s models), all of which gave it, for better or for worse, a distinctive feel.

Those early airplanes also had few options. No air conditioning, no TKS, no flat-panels. It was a what-you-see-is-what-you-get airplane.

It would also turn out to be the most successful single in the world, at least for a time, outselling every other piston single (or twin, for that matter) despite being one of the most expensive models available.

While it looks similar to the first model, today’s Cirrus SR22 is better in nearly every respect. It has a stronger, faster, lighter wing with more fuel capacity, better, more durable gear, a near state-of-the-art avionics suite, synthetic and enhanced vision options, and more.

It also costs a lot more. The first Cirrus SR22 was priced preposterously low, at less than $200,000. Today’s is around $700,000, a more than three-fold increase. It’s true that customers are getting a lot more airplane in the deal, and it’s also true that Cirrus has learned a thing or two about how much they have to charge to make money on an airplane.

Here’s a look at some of the milestones on the SR22’s remarkably innovative march through the decade.

The first Cirrus SR22 was a big departure from conventional piston singles. A composite, fixed-gear high-performance beauty, the ’22 was an immediate sales success. Of course, the feature that got the most ink was the one you can’t see, the Chute. And the publicity wasn’t all good. Some pilots complained that the Chute was used to satisfy the airplane’s spin requirements. Others didn’t like that it was a standard and required feature. Yet others felt it would give pilots too much emotional license to do things in an airplane they might otherwise not do. More than a decade after the introduction to the Part 23 world of the whole airplane recovery parachute system, the very concept remains controversial.

(Photo Courtesy of Cirrus Aircraft)

While the G2 model seemed like a great improvement over the original at the time, in retrospect, most of its upgrades were add-ons. Still, it marked yet another success for Cirrus. The biggest splash was the introduction of the Avidyne Entegra flat-panel avionics package. Probably more than any other upgrade that Cirrus has offered, the Avidyne package became a must-have upgrade for owners, who traded in their G1 models for the latest and greatest.

(Photo Courtesy of Cirrus Aircraft)

The first flat-panel avionics package in a Part 23 light airplane was the Avidyne Entegra system in the Cirrus SR22 (and the SR20, for that point). The system made use of dual Garmin GNS 430 navigators, an S-Tec 55 autopilot, and analog backup flight instruments in a bolster panel.

(Photo by Robert Goyer)

The G3 model introduced a whole new airframe that included a new lighter, faster and stronger wing with almost an extra hour of fuel. The gear was set higher and was beefier, and the access for maintenance crews was far easier. There were better lights, improved aerodynamics, available FIKI and a host of interior options, including factory air conditioning.

(Photo Courtesy of Cirrus Aircraft)

The timing was terrible when the company introduced Cirrus Perspective by Garmin cockpit only months after the economic downturn of 2007. The suite featured larger, 12-inch displays, integrated navigators and the remarkable GFC700 autopilot. Synthetic vision and enhanced (infrared) vision were soon to follow. Despite the unfortunate timing, Perspective soon became the gold standard of Cirrus cockpits.

(Photo Courtesy of Cirrus Aircraft)

The latest Cirrus SR22 is the Limited Commemorative Edition (LCE) model, produced in commemoration of the model’s 10th anniversary. Cirrus will build just 10 LCEs, which get special interior treatments, paint schemes and all the bells and whistles, including FIKI, synthetic vision, air conditioning and much more.

For more on the Cirrus SR22, check out 10 Year of the SR22 or 10 Ways the SR22 Changed Flying.