Letters: 05/04

Loser Indeed
Reading your characterization of the Cirrus SR22 as a loser in terms of fuel efficiency in your March issue, I had to wonder whether you were even talking about the same airplane as the SR22 Ive owned for a year.

I routinely see 13 NMPG-plus at 172 to 175 KTAS, running lean of peak (LOP) in my Cirrus. I typically flight plan 175 knots at 13.8 GPH at 10,000 feet, providing me an endurance of 5.8 hours and a comfortable no-wind range of 850 miles with legal reserves.

At 6000 feet, your test altitude, I get 175 KTAS at 15.7 GPH. Why anyone would opt for ROP operation at 19 GPH for an additional 2 to 5 knots is beyond me and my view and mode of operation is shared by a majority of those discussing the matter on our Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association online forums.

With articles about auxiliary fuel tanks and fuel economy, it is really a glaring omission that you didnt mention what is by far the easiest and least expensive option available to substantially increase range and fuel economy: learn how to use the red knob!

Spending less than $1000 for a brain add-on by attending engine management seminars such as those offered by Advanced Pilot Seminars and adopting LOP techniques will not only reduce your fuel/wallet burn but will provide you with cooler CHTs to boot. While many engines will require GAMIjectors for LOP operation, most SR22s coming off the line these days have balanced fuel flows right out of the box.

-Gordon Feingold
Vice President
Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association

We expected to hear from the Cirrus crowd. And while we agree with you, its also true that if the performance numbers are taken directly from the POH-as we did-the SR22 is none too impressive, economy wise. Our owner surveys suggest that some owners operate lean of peak, some don’t. The majority? We not so sure of that.

We promise to re-examine the issue when we explore economy tricks. However, for the time being, we stand by the observation that the SR22 isn’t an economy winner.


I enjoyed Paul Bertorellis timely report Gas Guzzlers Are Us. He covered every detail that I can think of in comparing fuel use of automobiles and airplanes except for the one that I always like to point out: the ability of an airplane to go in a straight line. It makes a huge difference, especially here in the Southwest where my flying is almost always VFR and GPS direct.

A good example is Tucson to Springerville, Arizona, which is 240 miles to drive, 140 miles to fly. The Honda CRV takes 10 gallons and five hours, the Mooney 252 also takes 10 gallons, but just 50 minutes to fly. Not all trips give such a large straight line advantage to airplanes, but most of them are significant enough to improve the mileage match-up against the cars crawling on their serpentine highways.

-David Haymore
Tucson, Arizona


Into the Box
The value of recurrent training in sims and FTDs is simply not shared by the vast majority of instrument pilots. Most seemingly would rather put $800 into flying an airplane. It would be interesting to know the actual percent of instrument-rated pilots (single/twin piston) who participate in this type of recurrent training. I would hazard a guess of less than 1 percent.

I agree with the author regarding the value of this type of training: more approaches in less time, can repeatedly focus on areas that need to be strengthened, real partial panel, real in-flight failures/emergencies. There is no way to get this type of training in the aircraft (and the airlines and corporate world learned this long ago). The learning environment in the sim is far superior to that of the airplane. I fly a Seneca III about 200 hours a year and have attended recurrent training at Flight Safety (Lakeland, Florida), Recurrent Training Center (Illinois) and Proficient Flight in Wisconsin.

You missed the boat by not including Proficient Flight in your review. In my opinion, it is clearly the best of the three that I have attended.

Their sim is excellent, allowing for advanced avionics (HSI, Garmin 430 and so on), visuals to support circle-to-land approaches, advanced equipment such as de-ice and an outstanding curriculum. (Contact: Proficient Flight, N14 W24200 Tower Place, Suite 203. Waukesha, Wisconsin 53188, phone 262-523-0646, www.proficientflight.com.)

Unlike my experience at the other facilities, all of the instructors at Proficient Flight are current airline types or corporate jet types with tremendous experience and excellent teaching skills.

-George Batsche
Tampa, Florida


Diamond v. Cirrus
Im a Diamond Star DA-40 owner and a mechanical engineer and your Cirrus vs. Diamond article in the December 2003 issue bothered me. Specifically, I think the conclusion that the Cirrus is better overall for the U.S. market than the Diamond is unfounded. An engineer always asks the question, better for what purpose?

To me, the factors you considered important for the U.S. market, speed, range, and cabin size pale into insignificance when compared with the most critical factor for any airplane: survival.

Ill tell you what purpose the Diamond is better for: if you want a fairly fast, fairly roomy airplane with reasonable range that will keep your family as safe as possible, the Diamond is the hands-down winner.Why?

As we all know, there is a fundamental problem with any single-engine airplane-it has only one engine. A single-engine pilot should always fly as though the engine could fail. This means pilots should plan flights mostly over areas where emergency landings are feasible and should know how to put the airplane down in a field without a scratch with some level of confidence. And as you noted, falling into that field at a vertical descent rate of 16 knots with the plane at the end of a parachute is not a good option!

As a contest glider pilot, I know exactly how to put an aircraft down in a field in the event of an engine failure, but I need an airframe under me that will behave properly all the way down into farmer Johns field.

If youve ever done real emergency landings, you know that your stick and rudder work wont be the best at such times! Your poor little brain will be spinning like a pinball machine and with most of your attention devoted to fast-unfolding events outside of the cockpit, you really need a plane that is forgiving of error.

You will also need a machine that is extremely docile during low-speed handling, because speed control is the key to getting the airplane stopped before the trees do it for you.

The Diamond behaves flawlessly during emergency landings and in general it is hard to make the airplane do anything really bad. The Cirrus has substantially higher landing speeds and I understand it is definitely a twitcher under the circumstances encountered in emergency landings.

Speaking of possible twitchy handling, is it true that the recommended spin recovery procedure for the Cirrus is to deploy the chute?

I bought the Diamond over a year ago and Id make the same choice today. As you pointed out it has a flawless safety record. It will get to most places in Florida from my home near Washington. D.C. with a single stop in South Carolina and it will get me anywhere I want to go in the Northeast in two or three hours. If I want to go to San Francisco, I fly commercial, just as I would if I owned a Cirrus. Cirrus has indeed sold more aircraft, for now. However, it appears that Diamond is beginning to dominate the training arena and this bodes we’ll for the future!

Summing up, I would have been a lot happier with your article if you had presented the facts without conclusions that reflected your own preferences.

-Jack Beavers
Leesburg, Virginia

If your impression is that the Cirrus SR20 is a twitcher, perhaps you havent flown one. In our view, that impression simply isn’t correct. As we noted in the article, we think the Diamond DA40 is more fun to fly and handles better, but that doesnt make the SR20 twitchy. Thus far, weve seen nothing to suggest the airplanes handling is a factor in any of the accidents weve reviewed.

As far drawing conclusions in our comparative test articles, thats really what readers pay us to do. Its in our DNA, so to speak.

Relying upon stated test criteria which are intended not to favor any product or service, we make buying recommendations based upon disclosed facts and findings, something advertising-driven publications do not do.