Gee... The G3 Is Another Step In The
Right Direction (Part One)
Another Step In A Truly Evolutionary
While I've flown virtually every type of
piston Cirrus that Alan and Dale have built, the most notable aspect of
what they've done revolves around their 'utter failure' to leave well
enough alone. While a number of aircraft designs have seen few changes
over the course of many decades... it doesn't take long (weeks, maybe)
before the Klapmeier boys are fiddling around with the their airplanes and
looking to improve the breed -- even after a major upgrade.
Well... it's happened again. The latest
iteration of the Cirrus, this time with the moniker of "G3", is rolling
off the flightline. Several weeks ago, we were the first to try out the
freshly certified new hot-rod from the feverish design team that has
revolutionized an industry. The G3 is NOT an all-new airplane... but
rather a very positive evolutionary upgrade to a design that didn't want
for much to begin with. The design is also proof positive that someone at
Cirrus is reading their mail, as the changes reflect the needs and desires
of the fairly vociferous Cirrus community, who (while they love their
airplanes) are not exactly bashful when it comes to speaking their mind.
So... the G3 is more than a simple
upgrade... it's the product of hundreds of suggestions and requests from
the Cirrus community... leaving the latest bird easily the best Cirrus
built so far -- and some say, the best GA airplane, period.
The Cirrus team went through the bird from
stem to stern in this upgrade, with some big changes proving to be more
than skin-deep. An aggressive re-design of the primary wing structure has
resulted in a stronger and stiffer wing that allowed CD to carve well over
50 pounds out of that assembly... and then use that leeway to increase the
bird's effective range.
The gear has been heavily modified to be a
somewhat narrower and taller construct that (to our experience) hasn't
hurt a thing (in terms of stability or control) and added some prop
clearance, to boot. The new gear gives the Cirrus about 2 inches more prop
breathing room and for those of us who have occasionally dropped one of
these critters in a little hard (especially on the nose), this is a very
The gear used to be nearly 11 feet wide...
and has been narrowed to just over 8.5 feet. They did this with the same
gear legs they've used in the past, but mounted in a significantly more
acute angle. This change allowed the interior of the wing to be adapted
to a number of other modifications, most notably a larger TKS deicing
fluid tank, and produced a more efficient internal structure. Internal
fuel tankage jumped from 81 gallons to 92 gallons, as well. The 16%
increase in range was a welcome and much wanted upgrade from experienced
Cirrus flyers, who tend to be a wide-ranging lot. The new tanks, we're
told, also incorporate fuel indicating sensors that are expected to be
even more accurate than the units they replace.
A number of aerodynamic refinements have
been incorporated... quite a number, in fact, and many of them quite
subtle. Several fairings have been redesigned to offer less drag and
improve other aerodynamic efficiencies. A new wing root fairing, for
instance, has minimized spurious flow separation at the trailing edge of
the wing and enhanced both cruise and climb abilities. Gear fairings have
received exceptional attention to drag reduction and simplification. The
result is a far tighter and cleaner installation that reduces the part
count and slicks things up a bit.
The wing's dihedral was hiked a full degree,
thus creating greater ground clearance, better yaw/roll harmonies and
eliminating the need for the rudder/aileron control interconnect that has
been a part of the Cirrus line since its inception. The enhanced dihedral
has definitely produced a more perceptible dihedral effect without
adversely affecting any aspect of the aircraft's already laudable
stability profile. This change produced the most tangible difference
inherent in the G3 line... a whole new "feel" in the Cirrus' already
reputable handling -- and I gotta tell you -- I like it... a lot. Roll has
a lighter and more responsive feel and the manner in which it harmonizes
with yaw is simply delightful. While it is not remotely sensitive, the
additional sense of response, and the rate/pressures now inherent in roll
actuation make this bird even more pleasurable to maneuver -- and if you
gotta hankering to play "Bandits At 12 O'Clock High" for a few minutes
(and you know who you are...), you've gonna find yourself grinning from
ear to ear.
One of the other most noticeable changes can
be seen along the lengthy expanse of the wing's leading edge. The whole
leading edge, tip to root, is now fully encased in a TKS metallic
anti-icing fluid diffusion system that produces icing protection across a
much wider span (nearly four feet more) than the wings of old. With 30
minutes more TKS protection available (in normal mode, some 15 minutes
more in "max" mode) thanks to the larger fluid tank, the Cirrus is better
equipped to deal with the perilous hazards of icing encounters when some
poor soul blunders where he or she plainly should not be (and once again,
you know who you are, too).
The more comprehensive TKS installation
raises some interesting possibilities... as the additional protection,
larger fluid capacity and a number of other small details leave one to
question whether or not the Cirrus series may soon be headed for
known-icing certification. Most of the necessary elements seem to be in
place and with this new installation, one sees few reasons why Cirrus
(especially with the Turbo) may not be within spitting distance of being
able to certify this bird for flight into (knowingly) more frigid
conditions. We shall see.
more details on the many changes that make up a Cirrus G3 and why we think
they're a great addition to the line-up.
Sorry for the delay in posting this report, but efforts to cover Lakeland
(and the ridiculous issues we have to deal with, there) as well as
accomplish a number of other missions, taxed ANN to the max. Since ANN's
Jim Campbell is the sole press photographer on board the Zero-G 727 this
week as Professor Stephen Hawking gets to try out weightlessness, the rest
of this series may take a while to complete. Keep an eye out for it...
it'll be worth the wait.