|Role||Civil utility aircraft|
|First flight||21 March 1995|
US$359,900 (Base price, 2015)
The SR20 was the first production general aviation aircraft equipped with a parachute to lower the airplane safely to the ground after a loss of control, structural failure or mid-air collision. It was also the first manufactured aircraft with all-composite construction, flat-panel avionics and side-yoke flight controls.
Design and development
The SR20 was first flown on 21 March 1995. FAA certification was achieved on 23 October 1998. At the time of the airplane's release, the general aviation industry was struggling; the SR20 was the first of its kind to earn FAA Part 23 certification in several years. Over a thousand SR20s have been sold since deliveries began in 1999. As of June 2015, more than 6,000 Cirrus aircraft had been delivered.
One of the major selling points for the SR20 is its Cirrus Perspective avionics suite (by Garmin) with dual 10-inch (250 mm) or 12-inch (300 mm) screens: one primary flight display (PFD) and one multi-function display (MFD). 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 PFDs standard on their SR-series, pioneering the use of glass cockpits in the light aircraft general aviation industry.
The SR20, like the faster SR22, is equipped with the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System, a large parachute that can be deployed in an emergency to lower the entire aircraft to the ground safely. As of 2015, the SR-series has deployed the system 53 times carrying 107 survivors.
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. Since 2011, simply "SR20" has been used.
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.
Improved variant introduced in 2004.
In 2007, Cirrus introduced an updated model of the SR20 that incorporates changes from the SR22 G3 airframe, including installing a lighter, larger SR22-length wing. The new wing increased the SR20's cruise speed by 6–7 knots (11–13 km/h). This improved model is called the SR20 G3 for "Generation 3". The new model includes:
- A lighter wing of greater area, incorporating a carbon-fiber spar
- Increased useful load by 50 pounds (23 kg) by increasing the take-off weight to 3,050 pounds (1,380 kg)
- Re-designed main landing gear that is 2 inches (5 cm) taller giving greater propeller and tail clearance
- New recognition lights using LEDs
- Improved aircraft handling, due to increased dihedral
- Improved aerodynamics, including new wing root fairings
- Improved heat and ventilation
- Dual-redundant GPS WAAS-certified Garmin GNS 430W comm-navigators (they include a VHF radio and a VOR/LOC/ILS receiver)
- S-Tec Autopilot
The Cirrus SRV was a VFR-only version of the SR20 for the low-end private ownership and flight training market. As such it omitted some standard equipment available on the SR20 such as wheel fairings. For 2008 the SRV model was updated to G3 configuration, with the SR22 wing. Cirrus discontinued the SRV for the 2010 model year.
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 will be purchased to replace the Academy's current stock of 20 leased T-52As by May 2012.
The SR20 is popular with many flying schools and is operated by private individuals and companies. The largest operators are CAFUC (Civil Aviation Flight University of China) operating 40 aircraft, Aerosim Flight Academy which operates 34, Western Michigan University which has 26 and Purdue University with a fleet of 16.
- French Air Force and French Navy Academies (operated by Cassidian) - 23 aircraft (mixed fleet of 16 SR20s and 7 SR22s).
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 inflight test-deployments of the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (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 on the prison grounds about 400 meters from the Duluth International Airport. Anderson was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame in 2010 and is often praised as a hero by the local community.
New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and certified flight instructor Tyler Stanger were killed in the 2006 New York City plane crash on October 11, 2006, when their SR20 crashed into the Belaire Apartments in New York City. The aircraft struck the north side of the building, located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, causing a fire in several apartments. The accident was the result of high winds and pilot error.
In 2011, the accident record of the SR20 and -22 was 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 (.35), Cessna 172 (.45), Diamond DA42 (.54), Cessna 182 (.69) and the Cessna 400 (1.0), despite the Cirrus's full aircraft parachute system.
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.
By 2015, the accident rate had continued to decrease, with a 2014 fatal rate of .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).
Data from Cirrus SR20 Specifications Webpage
- Crew: one
- Capacity: four passengers
- Length: 26 ft 0 in (7.92 m)
- Wingspan: 38 ft 4 in (11.68 m)
- Height: 8 ft 11 in (2.71 m)
- Wing area: 144.9 ft² (13.71 m²)
- Empty weight: 2128 lb (965 kg)
- Loaded weight: 3050 lb (1386 kg)
- Useful load: 922 lb (421 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 3050 lb (1386 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Continental IO-360-ES, 200 hp (149 kW)
- Cruise speed: 155 knots (288 km/h) 178.4 mph
- Stall speed: 56 knots flaps down (104 km/h) 64 mph
- Range: 625 nautical miles (1454 km) 719 miles
- Service ceiling: 17,500 ft (5334 m)
- Rate of climb: 828 ft/min (4.2 m/s)
- Wing loading: 21.0 lb/ft² (101 kg/m²)
- Power/mass: 15.25 lb/hp (0.108 kW/kg)
- Cirrus Perspective by Garmin (based on Garmin G1000)
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
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