Cirrus SR20

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CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR20 N345BS (2059) (5056614400).jpg
Role Light aircraft
Manufacturer Cirrus Aircraft
First flight 21 March 1995
Produced 1999–present
Number built 1,459 (through 2019)[1]
Developed into Cirrus SR22

The Cirrus SR20 is an American piston-engined, four- or five-seat composite monoplane built since 1999 by Cirrus Aircraft of Duluth, Minnesota. The aircraft is the company's earliest type-certified model, earning certification in 1998.

It was the first production general aviation (GA) aircraft equipped with a parachute to lower the airplane safely to the ground after a loss of control, structural failure, or midair collision. The SR series was also the first mass-manufactured light aircraft with all-composite construction and flat-panel avionics.[2][3]

The SR20 was developed into the Cirrus SR22, which was introduced in 2001 and is the most-produced GA aircraft of the 21st century.

Design and development[edit]

Early production model Cirrus SR20
SR20 landing

The SR20 mock-up was unveiled in 1994.[4] The aircraft first flew on 21 March 1995 and FAA certification was achieved on 23 October 1998.[5][6] At the time of the airplane's release, the GA industry was struggling; the SR20 was one of the first of its kind to earn FAA Part 23 certification in several years.[7] Over a thousand SR20s have been sold since deliveries began in July 1999. As of January 2021, nearly 8,000 SR-series aircraft had been delivered,[8][9] something that no other aviation company has done for decades.[10]

One of the major selling points for the SR20 is its Garmin Cirrus Perspective avionics suite with dual 10-inch (250 mm) or 12-inch (300 mm) screens: one primary flight display (PFD) and one multifunction display (MFD), first introduced by the company in May 2008. This provides all standard communication, navigation (GPS and conventional VHF), and surveillance (Mode S transponder) functions. Other avionics features include in-flight weather information and TCAS-like traffic information.

SR20s made from 1999 to 2003 were equipped with traditional analog instruments and a 10" MFD. In July 2003, Cirrus made Avidyne Entegra PFDs standard on the SR20 and faster SR22, pioneering the use of glass cockpits in the light aircraft GA industry.[11]

The SR-series remains the only airplane in its class to include side-stick flight controls that combine aspects of a traditional yoke handle (this has been referred to in the industry as a "side yoke").[3]

The SR20 and SR22 are equipped with the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), a large parachute that can be deployed in an emergency to lower the entire aircraft to the ground safely.[6] As of September 2018, the SR-series has deployed the system 79 times carrying 163 survivors.[12]

On 1 June 2004, the SR20 became the first aircraft to achieve the new European Aviation Safety Agency certificate for aircraft imported into the European Union.

In 2004, Cirrus introduced the SR20 G2 (Generation 2) and in 2008, the SR20 G3 (Generation 3). Both were defined by airframe modifications, G2 by fuselage and G3 by wing/landing gear changes.

In 2012, "60/40 flex seating" was introduced, allowing up to three passengers in the rear with a split fold-down seat arrangement. This five-seat configuration was optional in 2012, but became standard equipment for 2013 SR20 models.[13]

In 2016, Cirrus introduced enhancements to the SR series, including Bluetooth wireless connectivity, a remote keyless entry, a convenience lighting system, and a new easy-access door latch, among other interior and exterior improvements.[14][15]

In 2017, the company introduced the SR20 G6 (Generation 6), with several upgrades to the avionics, new navigation lights, and an increased useful load.[16]

In September 2019, Cirrus unveiled the TRAC, a training-oriented version of the SR20, with a simplified interior, more durable seat material, backseat radio transmit switch to allow an observer to communicate with air traffic control, electronic stability and protection system, integrated engine indication and crew alerting/warning systems, and simulated retractable landing gear controls and position lights to allow cadets and instructors to feign landing-gear operation and failures during instructional flights (the actual landing gear remains permanently fixed).[17][18]

In January 2020, the company introduced a new mobile application for the SR series, called "Cirrus IQ", which enables remote aircraft communication including access to preflight status information such as fuel and oxygen levels, battery voltage, oil temperature, aircraft location, and flight hours. Upgrades also included a new stabilized approach-advisory system for the flight deck.[19] In January 2022, speed and aesthetic improvements were added to the G6 SR-series, with a 9 knots (17 km/h) increased cruise speed, upgrades to the mobile IQ app, USB-A and USB-C charging ports and more.[20][21]

Operational history[edit]

In 2011, the accident records of the SR20 and -22 were the subject of a detailed examination by Aviation Consumer magazine. The review concluded that the series has an overall accident record that is better than average for light aircraft, exceeded only by the Diamond DA40 and DA42. However, its fatal accident rate is much worse at 1.6/100,000 hours, placing it higher than the U.S. general aviation rate of 1.2 and higher than the Diamond DA40 (0.35), Cessna 172 (0.45), Diamond DA42 (0.54), Cessna 182 (0.69), and Cessna 400 (1.0), despite the Cirrus's CAPS.[22]

By 2014, the accident rate had been dramatically reduced, with a 2013 fatal rate of 1.01 per 100,000 flight hours. This was attributed to better training, particularly in when to deploy the ballistic parachute system.[23]

By 2015, the accident rate had continued to decrease, with a 2014 fatal rate of 0.42 per 100,000 flight hours, making it one of the best safety records in the industry. This marked the fewest fatalities in a single year for Cirrus since 2001, and the first year where the number of CAPS deployments (12) exceeded the number of fatal accidents (3).[24][25][26]


Original version produced from 1999
Cirrus SR20 G2
SR20 G2
Improved variant introduced in 2004, including Avidyne Entegra avionics
Introduced at the 2003 EAA AirVenture Convention and brought to market in 2004, the Cirrus SRV was a VFR-only version of the SR20 for the low-end private ownership and flight-training market.[27] As such, it omitted some standard equipment available on the SR20 such as wheel fairings.[28] For 2008, the SRV model was updated to G3 configuration, with the SR22 wing.[29] Cirrus discontinued the SRV for the 2010 model year.
SR20 G3
Introduced in 2007, the G3 has a lighter wing of greater area, incorporating a carbon-fiber spar. The new wing increased the SR20's cruise speed by 6–7 knots (11–13 km/h). The G3 also added a 50 pounds (23 kg) increased useful load by increasing the take-off weight to 3,050 pounds (1,380 kg), a redesigned main landing gear that is 2 inches (5 cm) taller, giving greater propeller and tail clearance, improved aircraft handling due to increased dihedral, improved aerodynamics including new wing root fairings, LED recognition lights, improved heat and ventilation, dual-redundant GPS WAAS-certified Garmin GNS 430W comm-navigators (that include a VHF radio and a VOR/LOC/ILS receiver) and an S-Tec Autopilot.[30][31][32]
United States Air Force T-53A
In 2011, the SR20 was selected for cadet flight training with the 306th Flying Training Group at the United States Air Force Academy and given an Air Force model/design/series (MDS) designation as the T-53A. Twenty-five examples were to be purchased to replace the academy's current stock of 20 leased T-52As by May 2012, and included new features such as Cirrus Perspective avionics (by Garmin) as well as airbag seat belts.[33][34]
SR20 G6
Introduced in January 2017, the G6 model adds a Lycoming IO-390 engine of 215 hp (160 kW), an enhanced "Perspective-Plus" flight deck with a 10-times faster instrument processing speed, new LED wingtip lights and a useful load increase of 150 lb (68 kg).[16]
Introduced in September 2019, the TRAC is a flight-training version with a simplified, more durable interior, IO-390 engine, Perspective+ flight deck, rear seat push-to-talk functionality, and simulated landing gear controls.[17][18]


A Cirrus SR20 belonging to Western Michigan University
Purdue University Cirrus SR20 on display at the Oshkosh Airshow


The SR20 is popular with many flying schools and is operated by private individuals and companies. The largest operators are Civil Aviation Flight University of China with 40 aircraft, Aerosim Flight Academy with 34, Western Michigan University with 29, Lufthansa Flight Training and United Aviate Academy both with 25, and Purdue University with 16.[35][36][37][38][39]


 United States

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Between 1999 and September 2019, the SR20 was involved in 35 known fatal accidents.[42] Listed below are some of the most notable ones.

  • On March 23, 1999, Duluth native Scott D. Anderson was killed in a plane crash while flight-testing the first production model SR20 before it went on sale. Anderson was a pilot, author, engineer, and adventurer who served as chief test pilot at Cirrus in the mid- to late 1990s, performing all the in-flight test deployments of the CAPS. His plane, which had not yet been equipped with CAPS, experienced an aileron jam during experimental stress-testing and went down in a field near the Duluth International Airport. Anderson was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame in 2010.[43][44][45][46]

Specifications (SR20-G3)[edit]

Continental IO-360-ES fitted to a Cirrus SR20

Data from Cirrus SR20 Specifications Webpage[29]

General characteristics


  • Cruise speed: 155 kn (178 mph, 287 km/h) TAS
  • Stall speed: 56 kn (64 mph, 104 km/h) CAS
  • Service ceiling: 17,500 ft (5,300 m)
  • Rate of climb: 828 ft/min (4.21 m/s)


See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era


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