Editoriali

 

4/2007

 

1.  Gee... The G3 Is Another Step In The Right Direction (Part One)

Another Step In A Truly Evolutionary Program

Jim Campbell, Aero-News, 25/4/2007

 

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 good thing... 

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.

 

Next: 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.

Note: 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.