Cirrus Aircraft recently unveiled its latest SR22 and SR22T models — dubbed Generation 5 — with a host of improvements, dominated by a 200-pound increase in the airplanes’ load carrying capability.
Increasing the certified gross weight to 3,600 pounds increases the flexibility of the airplanes, according to Dale Klapmeier, Cirrus co-founder and CEO. “It’s the most asked for improvement from our customers,” he said.
When the SR22 was introduced as a 3,400-pound airplane, it boasted a useful load of 1,100 pounds, he said. “But when you add flat-panel screens, Flight Into Known Icing (FIKI), and air conditioning — all the things customers want for utility — it drives the useful load down.”
The evolution to the Generation 5 models began with, of all things, a seatbelt. The single-shoulder straps in the back seats were annoying for some passengers, who complained about comfort as the straps rode high, often chafing people’s necks.
Customers also said they wanted reclining seats and seats that easily folded down in the back.
“From that we looked at the whole interior design,” he said.
What they found was that there was a lot of wasted space because of styling. “With the redesign we found another 4 or 5 inches of space, but didn’t change the outside,” he said, noting that the back-seat redesign also shaved 10 pounds off the plane.
“What we have now is an airplane that is far more comfortable,” he said.
Passenger comfort is key, according to Klapmeier. “We have to make sure that the other people are extremely comfortable so the pilot — who is the aviation enthusiast — can fly.”
Flexibility was the driving force in the larger back seat, Klapmeier said. “So many people have children,” he said. “Now you can put three children back there or two adults and a child. Our goal was to offer flexibility to our customers.”
Another addition: A latching system for a car seat. “We are the first to do that,” he said, noting that it’s an addition that “seems so obvious.”
As part of the evolution to Generation 5, Cirrus engineers analyzed the entire aircraft design from spinner-to-tail. Upgrades include strengthening the carbon fiber, single part wing spar, the landing gear and a new flap system allowing extension to the first position at 150 knots, company officials said.
Also updated was the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS). In fact, the whole new parachute system was a “real driver” for the changes, Klapmeier said.
Significant changes, the first since the system was introduced more than 10 years ago, include an increased canopy size, a new rocket extraction system that propels the parachute upon activation, an advanced technology electrical rocket igniter and lighter, and stronger construction materials. Substantial testing, including a new series of parachute test drops, was conducted for validation, Klapmeier noted.
Also making its debut is the Generation 5 Vision Inspired Special Edition SR22T. Inspired by the company’s Vision SF50 Personal Jet, which is expected to be certified in late 2015, the special edition model — aimed at customers interested in moving up to the jet — is “top of the line,” Klapmeier said.
“We wanted to make this the most special airplane,” he said. “We know the person who is aspiring to get the jet is not going to walk in and get the lowest cost airplane we offer. They want the best and they can have that today.”
The Vision-inspired SR22, priced at $829,000, boasts flight characteristics and handling similar to the jet. Customers who buy one get a position for the jet at a reduced rate.
“It helps set the tone for the future of the company,” Klapmeier said. “Inspire — that’s what we are trying to do.”
For more information: CirrusAircraft.com