On May 20, 2008, Cirrus Design announced that the Cirrus Perspective glass cockpit--think Garmin G1000 Plus--is available as an option to their SR22 aircraft. This is big news for several reasons, and future SR22 buyers will want to consider whether to choose it or the current Avidyne Entegra glass cockpit. They will also want to think about buying a best selling book and CD-ROM Course on the G1000.
For pilots who have recently taken delivery on a new SR22 and are concerned that they missed out on getting the latest greatest feature, do not despair. Buying an airplane is increasingly becoming like purchasing a personal computer or cell phone. New features come out every few months and there will ALWAYS be something new that comes out after you purchase. At some point, one just has to jump on the bandwagon and buy one of these products, even though they know that tomorrow's version will have some additional new goodie available. That's the price we pay for being in a world of rapid innovation. And it's far better than being in a static world with little change (think GA aircraft from theÂ 1970s and 1980s).
Candidly, I thought Cirrus would introduce the L-3 SmartDeck for the SR22, though I'm in no way disappointed with the robust feature set found in the Perspective. The L-3 SmartDeck is the glass cockpit Cirrus announced in September, 2007 they'd be using in The Jet, their four-place personal jet that's in design. That would have allowed future buyers of the The Jet, to buy a SR22 to become proficient in the same avionics that they'll later use in their jet. Many future Cessna Mustang owners follow the same strategy today and buy a Cessna 400 or Beech Baron G58 to become familiar with the Garmin G1000 prior to taking delivery of their jet. In my experience, most pilots of one glass cockpit type have little trouble transitioning to other glass cockpits, so The Jet buyers will have no trouble making this same jump.
Cirrus Perspective: a Garmin G1000 Plus
The Cirrus Perspective strongly resembles the Garmin G1000, though it is clearly different and specifically tailored to the SR22. In fact, all of the major components, the PFD, MFD, and autopilot control panel, are new and will be unique to Cirrus for at least a year. The most obvious change is the large 12.1 inch diagonal displays, which have 35% more viewing area then the 10.4 inch displays found in the current SR22 and most versions of the Garmin G1000. As we all know from upsizing our PC screens, bigger is better and this will be a welcome improvement that may make it harder for pilots to go back to smaller screens.
Keypad and Garmin Integrated Autopilot
The system also utilizes a keypad for data entry and Garmin's GFC700 integrated autopilot, which is undoubtedly the finest autopilot available in general aviation aircraft today. Instead of finding the autopilot keys along the PFD and MFD, where most G1000 pilots are accustomed to finding them, they are located on a new autopilot control panel. A major new feature is the incorporation of a LVL key which, when pushed, levels the aircraft regardless ofÂ it's pre-existing attitude. This is a great idea that gives pilots one more option in the unlikely event that things go bad, but not so bad that a parachute pull is called for.
Anyone who chooses this new plane will love the IAS key which allows you to set and climb at a specific airspeed (G1000 users know this as the FLC key). The SR22 also has a yaw damper available, which allows "feet on the floor" operation during climbs and turns with the autopilot engaged. It's a $7,500 option, and we guess that most SR22 Perspective buyers will select it.
This implementation of the Garmin autopilot is also more resilient than some others, in that it will continue to function after the failure of some system components. For example in some G1000-equipped aircraft, failure of some components, including the Attitude Heading Reference System (AHRS), renders the autopilot unusable. Not so in the Cirrus Perspective, which is equipped with dual AHRS. Should one AHRS fail, a pilot can switch AHRS by pushing the SENSOR softkey on the PFD, a feature previously found only in the G1000 version shipping in the Cessna Mustang.
PFDs do at times fail. However, with the Perspective, Cirrus owners now have a benefit that was formerly unique to the G1000: a Backup Display button that combines PFD and engine data and displays it on the MFD. This switchover can also occur automatically if the system detects a PFD failure.
The Cirrus Perspective also displays all engine functions on a single MFD page. Pilots used to flying the Avidyne version of Cirrus aircraft, or the Cessna 400 version of the Garmin G1000, will recognize this all-in-one display. When you do view this page, you'll want to use the PFD's Inset map to monitor nearby traffic. Displaying traffic on the PFD will be new to Cirrus pilots--and they'll love it--as there's one less reason to ever let their eyes stray from the PFD.
The Perspective also lets Cirrus owners for the first time aviate, navigate and communicate from just the PFD. Comm radio frequencies and flight plans can be entered on the PFD, though you will need to go to the MFD to enter NAV radio frequencies. Experienced G1000 users will note that the redundant set of knobs along the left of the PFD have been eliminated and that "%Â Power" is now prominently displayed in the upper left of the corner of the PFD. A new destination data block, displaying the time, distance, bearing, and fuel remaining at destination, is displayed in the upper right corner of the MFD.
Garmin Synthetic Vision Technology
Many of the new features recently added to the G1000 are also included in the Cirrus Perspective. These include Garmin's new Synthetic Vision Technology and the ability to enter airways into a flight plan. Airways can also be selected for display on the MFD as can your choice of instrument procedure charts, either the Garmin supplied version of the NACO charts or, at additional cost, Jeppesen charts. The audio panel includes one of my favorite features--the Play button--which allows you to quickly replay the last radio transmission. A Go Around button conveniently located on the throttle simplifies pilot workload at one of the most critical times: initiatingÂ the missed approach portion of an instrument procedure.
As you might expect, all of these new features do come with a bump in price. The difference in price for a SR22-GTS Turbo with standard avionics and one with the Cirrus Perspective is $48,000. Knowing Cirrus owners, my guess is that most of them will opt for the Cirrus Perspective version of this aircraft--and that they'll love it!