Cloud Nine And A Half
Cirrus Aircraft’s SR22 has a long and storied history of taking owners above the clouds. The all-new G6 continues that tradition.
Unless you’re new to general aviation or have been under a rock for the past decade, you’ve heard of the Cirrus SR22. That’s because of one simple fact: the SR22 holds the title of the world’s best-selling general aviation airplane and has held it every year since 2003. To reach that rarefied stratosphere, however, the SR22 needed to outmaneuver (in more ways than one) the established industry leaders in its class. Its unveiling turned the industry on its head: this “plane with the parachute” had the ability to survive a tailspin.
The history of aviation is one of game changers. In the last half century alone, the Beechcraft Bonanza, Cessna 172, Mooney M20 and a handful of others have pushed the envelope. Viewing the sky as a laboratory, these companies nudged aviation design forward in many ways. Still, in an industry of game changers, Cirrus Aircraft Corporation—originally Cirrus Design—broke the mold. Unveiling a revolutionary airplane called the SR20, its line has since grown to include the SR22 and SR22T: single engine, five-seater, piston-powered machines considered to be the Porsches of small aircraft today.
When brothers Dale and Alan Klapmeier started building kit airplanes in the basement of their parents’ barn in Baraboo, Wisconsin in 1984, they realized that with a few tweaks to the design of their amateur-built prototype they could introduce the market to a new-generation airplane. From the very beginning, what would become the Cirrus SR20—Cirrus Design’s VK-30—was designed as a five-seat aircraft, making it significantly larger than most home and kit-built aircraft at the time. It featured an all-composite construction, had a low drag design and possessed a mid-engine placement for a 300 hp Continental IO- 550-G engine.
By 1998, the Klapmeiers certified the SR20. By 1999, they were delivering it to customers.
The SR20 was a boundaries-pushing aircraft, setting a number of milestones. It was the first manufactured aircraft to be completely constructed of composite materials, have side-yoke flight controls and feature the option of full flat-panel avionics with dual 10- or 12-inch flight displays. Most notable of all, however, it was the first production general aviation aircraft with a parachute.
“What we’re after is making aviation safer,” said Dale Klapmeier, CEO of Cirrus Aircraft, at the time. “We want our airplanes to be the safest airplanes. That’s why we design them; that’s how we design them.”
Probably no technology that Cirrus has introduced has been more revolutionary to the aviation industry than the parachute system, or CAPS (Cirrus Aircraft Parachute System). CAPS was an integral part of the Cirrus SR20 development from initial conception. Alan Klapmeier, Dale’s brother, was inspired after surviving a mid-air collision early in his career. He wanted the SR20 to have some form of life-saving device if a pilot lost control. It is now standard on all of their general aviation airplanes.
Fast forward to today, where Cirrus Aircraft has announced the launch of the all-new G6: the smartest, safest and most advanced model of the SR20, SR22 and SR22T (“T” standing for turbocharged, of course) piston airplanes. The benchmark for high-performing, single-engine aircraft has been raised once again by Cirrus. Recent improvements include the just-unveiled ultra-high speed Cirrus Perspective+ by Garmin flight deck, the luxury automotive-inspired Cirrus Spectra wingtip lighting and premium cockpit connectivity solutions.
These enhancements will take customers to new heights. Pushing the line between performance and comfort, the SR22 G6 delivers, giving new excitement to the freedom of flight.