Tom Haines

Cirrus gets a new Perspective by Garmin

May 20, 2008 by Thomas B. Haines, Editor in Chief

Apparently management at Cirrus Design saw Garmin International’s “gotta, gotta get a Garmin” ads for the Super Bowl and then went and got a Garmin–in fact, a whole panel for their Cirrus SR22 G3 line.

I had the chance to sample the Perspective panel and the other features unique to it, including a new paint scheme, last week at Cirrus’ Duluth, Minnesota, factory. Look for a feature article on the enhancements in the July issue of AOPA Pilot. But for now, here’s an advance look at the highly capable system.

First, in order to choose the innovative Perspective option, customers must order a fully optioned SR22 G3 or Turbo G3.

The Perspective panel is not just another G1000. Unique to Cirrus, at least for now, are impressively large dual 12-inch displays. The primary flight display features Garmin’s recently announced synthetic vision technology (SVT) and several crew alerting messages.

Also unique to Garmin is a blue “LVL” button on the GFC 700 autopilot mode controller. The LVL button is a pilot’s get-out-of-jail-free card when things are starting to go bad. Simply push the LVL button and no matter what mode the autopilot is in or even if it is off, the autopilot will roll the wings level and hold altitude. The system gives the pilot time to figure out what’s happening with the airplane or the automation and solve it before things get out of control.

The autopilot and the features of the PFD and MFD can be accessed through knobs and keys on a panel just below the MFD and above the newly redesigned throttle. The panel includes alpha and numeric keypads for entering waypoints, frequencies, and transponder codes.

The Perspective package includes a more capable and fault-tolerant electrical system and new environmental control system. The option adds 40 pounds to the airplane’s empty weight and costs about $48,000 more than the Avidyne Entegra system standard on Cirrus models.

So, what do you think about this latest safety feature? Have you found yourself in a situation where you wished you could have pushed an LVL button?


27 Responses to “Cirrus gets a new Perspective by Garmin”

  1. laforge j-p Says:

    Added weight and cost….already the SR22, with full fuel has limited payload, now 48 pounds heavier. I hope AOPA will perform some kind of comparative analysis of Garmin vs Avydine. Just completed my check on a 2006 GTS, I loved every minute of it, having own a 182 , I had to focus to keep track of all information available. Does that confirm the difficulty of getting satisfactory repairs from existing manufacturer?

  2. ddoler_jr Says:

    This is the future for those who can afford it.

  3. high_flyr Says:

    laforge-j-p says, “I hope AOPA will perform some kind of comparative analysis of Garmin vs Avydine”.
    reponse: The aircraft buyers marketplace has already done this, virtually unanimously endorsing the superiority of the G1000. For good reason. Until the G1000 came along, the Avidyne Entegra system was the cat’s meow. With 400+ hours Entegra time and 700+ G1000 time, my experience leads me to say that except for a few minor nitpicks, the G1000 is miles ahead of the Entegra. If Cirrus’s experience ends up being similar to Columbia/Cessna’s, where no one ordered the “standard” Avidyne once the “optional” G1000 was available, few if any new SR22 buyers will opt for the “standard” package of Avidyne. Garmin’s new blue LVL button on the GFC700 A/P is a remarkable feature. Caveat: to avoid unintentional CFIT if you’re flying over uneven terrain or near obstacles with the LVL engaged, make sure you keep the terrain feature active on the PFD/MFD and keep it in your scan! :) “Obstacle! Obstacle! Pull up! Pull UP!”

  4. Help me decide Says:

    I’m learning to fly in a C172 with steam gauges and plan to buy a plane in which I’ll do my flying (and IFR training) soon. I have not flown with the G1000 but took a demo flight and saw the Avidyne. It’s so far ahead of what I’m flying, I was enthralled. So – my question – Is the G1000 really $48k better than the Avidyne?

  5. Jeff Says:

    Awesome, now if they can just figure out what we will run on when 100LL is pulled from production.

  6. David Hays Says:

    Wow, now if Cirrus would get rid of the antiquated pull-push side yoke and go with a real side stick like the Cessna 350/400 I’d have a real delima. I will be buying new within the 12 to 18 months and it is absolutely wonderful what competition is causing in the market place. I really like the improvements Cirrus/Garmin have added. I’ve flown both systems and the Garmin, though a little more complex offers so much more than Avidyne. Once you’ve mastered the Garmin the two are worlds apart.

  7. Jeff Says:

    You have to give to Cirrus they truly are the masters of making lemonade out of lemons! First they take the plane’s biggest negative, the required BRS parachute, and make it the biggest selling point; now after even waiting longer even than Piper to go to the Garmin, they add a button to further bolster their owner’s false sense of security. Brilliant!

  8. Burt Says:

    Jeff – I’m afraid you are confused or have been misled. Or, this is an attempt to perpetuate a myth about the Cirrus parachute to take away credit where it is rightfully due. It is exactly the type of idiocy that drives people away from aviation.

    The parachute is only required because Cirrus wanted it so. The plane itself could easily have been certified without one, but Cirrus designed the airplane right from the start with the idea of putting an airframe parachute into it. And for good reason. Now that 20+ lives have been saved by this piece of equipment, and Cessna and Diamond have both announced plans to make an airframe parachute available on some models, the utility of the parachute cannot be questioned. I only wish I could retrofit one onto my Mooney.

    As to the new Garmin panel, I hardly think Cirrus is giving pilots a false sense of security, If anything, the addition of a 2nd AHARS makes it a lot safer than G1000 systems.

    But the bottom line is that you, as a pilot, need to take responsiblity for your safety. If you think you can blame a manufacturer for your mistakes in judgement because it provides safety equipment, then you should stop flying, because you are going to kill yourself and others. Oh, maybe Cirrus should have taken the seatbelts out of the plane – those provide a false sense of security, don’t they?

  9. Michael Lloyd Says:

    Oh my God, I don’t know if I should laugh or cry! A panic button for unusual attitudes?? How about some unusual attitude or aerobatic training to develop skills to actually learn how to fly the airplane rather than drive it like a car. Cirrus already has the reputation of not being a “pilot’s airplane” due to the BRS and suboptimal flight characteristics, and now they’re just confirming that perception. They should put a full disclosure sticker on window “This is a fast, good looking airplane for pilots who are actually a little afraid of flying and need a lot of hand holding. Buy only if you wouldn’t be embarrassed showing up to the Tour de France with training wheels on your bike.”

  10. Marty Weiss Says:

    Hmmm…. I own and fly regularly a new (2000) high performance Maule and a fully restored J-3 Cub from a private 1700 foot strip. I never had to use a parachute unless I jumped from a plane. I never hit a button to “upright” my airplane (usually the Cub) when it was upside down – because I PUT it that way and know how to PUT it back… plus there “ain’t no buttons in a Cub…”

    This isn’t rich guy envy – I’m a very blessed, very successful attorney who can buy pretty much afford any piston powered single engine plane I want. I’m upset becasue Cirrus makes new rich pilots think that flying is just as easy as jumping into the BMW and starting the engine. The majority of airframe accidents are from pilots flying into crappy weather – ice on the wings, over ugly terrain. Hit the miracle button with ice on the airframe and wings and the plane will probably violently spin into the nearest hunk of granite. Pull the chute too fast (usually this is the point when THAT thought crosses soon to be dead pilot’s mind) and the chute pulls away from the airframe.

    TRAINING in unusual attitudes, weather avoidance, judgment…etc. We old guys sound like a broken record, but that’s what saves lives. I love my Garmin 430 coupled to my STEC autopilot with altitue hold and HSI and GPSS in the Maule…great stuff that we could only DREAM of decades ago. I also love my Garmin 396 with XM weather. That’s the technology that I embrace – not miracle buttons and parachutes….

  11. Joe Farrell Says:

    $48k extra for a blue button? Did I read that right? $48k to install a wing leveler and a couple of bigger screens? PT Barnum was right.

    More money than brains [or perhaps skill] for the people who buy it.

  12. Wolf Steinmetz Says:

    While I fully agree that the most important part of any pilot’s equipment should be his brain with good decision making and proficiency in his skills, I do have some problems with the attitude displayed in a few of the above posts:
    Is there anyone out there who thinks that airbags, anti lock brakes, power steering and navigation systems plus many other amenities in modern cars are just for whimps who cannot drive? I don’t think so. However, when it comes to flying this type of attitude seems to prevail. I fly a variety of single and twin engine aircraft with various degrees of complexity on steam gauges, but I also have quite a number of hours on Cirrus aircraft. I have ferried 3 across the Atlantic, so far and one from Dubai to Denmark.
    While I see the danger that people might feel overconfident because of options like the BRS or the new LVL-Button, I think that Cirrus does a lot to make pilots realize that it is training, training and training what makes them safe. In my mind, every additional feature that might help save the day (and possibly a life) is a great idea. The price tag is another thing…
    Even the best pilot on this planet might become incapacitated for some reason or other and if the BRS or the LVL button help to save his and his passengers’ lives it is worth it. Isn’t it better to have all the options technology has to offer?
    I remember people saying bad things about GPS, when it first emerged. Something like: “pilots who use GPS are too dumb for navigation…” Anyone out there today, who would still say that? I guess not. So let’s embrace every safety feature that is offered, but stay sharp enough to never feel the need to use it!

  13. Philip Preston Says:

    Wolf….Ditto! The fact is that the safer it is for the average joe the more aviation will expand. The more it expands, the more influence we will have in DC. While I’ve heard the ” People that can afford a (fill in the blank) can’t fly them…” arguement it is usually made by those who convieniently forget what it was like to learn. While unusual attitues in a Cub are one thing, try it IFR in turbulence with driving rain and thunderstorms in the area while ATC is barking route changes, and you are trying to read a wildly flailing map and the wife and/or kids are about to barf. Even grizzled, manly, wise old aerobatic Cub drivers will beg for a blue button. That Cub driver is probaly the same guy that mutters over the radio about “B52 sized patterns” as he cuts a short final and stops on the runway in front of a large twin…ah to walk a mile in sonmeone elses shoes.

  14. Bob Creager Says:

    Sheesh! Thank you, Wolf, for tempering the absurd, macho messages above you with common sense and logic!

  15. Joe Pilot Says:

    It kind of reminds me of the climb and descent button in the Land Rovers. Imagine the wife’s excitement as the proud driver claims “look dear, watch what I can do!” as he pushes the magic button and promptly drops off a cliff. Maybe they could call it the “driver/pilot elimination” button. Sells cars I guess.

    Recently a Cirrus augured in near the Big Bear area while scud running. The very experienced pilot was flying one of the most situationally aware GA aircraft available and still managed to hit a mountain. I wonder if he would of had the bravado to try what he did if he hadn’t had the extra confidence of these types of “judgement/skill correction” devices. A while ago another Cirrus hit an apartment building during a VFR flight. Perhaps if the pilots of these planes weren’t watching two big TV’s while they were flying they’d still be around. Sells airplanes I guess.

  16. David Says:

    To the guys with all the machismo, it sounds more like sour grapes to me. My sympathy goes out to those that fly with you and your false sense of bravado. We should applaud every safety enhancement that comes along because that ultimately works to the benefit of all of us, whether you fly one of those airplanes or not.

    I spent years during the 70’s while in college teaching others to fly, which included NDB approaches on steam guages. Who wouldn’t be thankful that technology has advanced us from those days. I continue to fly 70’s vintage aircraft occasionally, but I for one am glad for the advancements that have been made.

    I do believe that some with more money than judgement will continue to buy the latest and most expensive technology thinking that will make up for their lack of experience and dedication to learning a craft. However, the vast majority of pilots understand that it takes time, patience and dedication to hone ones skills to fly an aircraft and there is no replacement for that.

  17. John Fellows Says:

    Jeff takes a pass on the “lemonade” and Burt smokes the marketing dope Cirrus so skillfully delivers to the impressionable. BTW, re the LVL blue buton. Although Cirrus may be the first to announce it in a production aircraft, it is a GARMIN product and you can be sure every aircraft manufacturer that includes the Garmin GFC700 autopilot wil include this great feature going forward. Just like Diamond was first to announce inclusion of GARMIN’s Synthetic Vision technology in their G1000 system, you’re now seeing everyone jump aboard this remarkable new feature as well.

  18. John Fellows Says:

    To “Help Me Decide” – it’s not a matter of whether the $48K is worth it (it is) and (BTW only Cirrus has asked this extra cost – Columbia, pre-Cessna-takeover, actually offered the G1000 ‘option’ for LESS than the Avidyne), the question is, will Avidyne even be around to offer their yesterday’s-news avionics suite now that Cirrus, their single biggest customer, has flown the coop?

  19. David Says:

    The Perspective is much more than an SR22 with a G1000 cockpit. The following link has an excellent description of the benefits:

  20. Stephen Textor Says:

    Regardless of the relative merit of the Garmin 1000, I was struck by the introduction of a panel mounted LVL function.

    Another senseless “safety feature” that reflects a nagging problem beneath the surface–pilot competency? I may be missing something iregarding flight instruction during the “glass cockpit” era, but basic flight skills ought to assure reasonable control of the aircraft including the ability to recognize and recover from unusual attitudes.

    My concern is that promoting dependence on autopilot technology, automated approaches and flight control, and a “panic button” all tend to diminish actual hands-on flight skills. The real question is whether the automated pilot is safe to fly the airplane….

  21. John Fellows Says:

    As Stephen Textor says so eloquently,” The real question is whether the automated pilot is safe to fly the airplane….”

    If he means by the phrase “automated pilot”, a real human at the controls of a machine designed to operate in three dimensions which has numerous features and functions that may distract from the aforementioned basic premise, then the ‘automated pilot’ definitely must assimilate,demonstrate, and perform significant abilities to simultaneously manage both the functions of operating the machine and the associated avionics.

    Or in the vernacular, if you got ‘junk in the trunk’, ya gotta know when to leave the junk in the sky an’ jus’ fly.

  22. Henrik Vaeroe Says:

    The LVL button reminds me of the Positive Control system installed on Mooneys of the 60’s. It was in effect a low-authority, continously operating wing-leveler, easily overpowered during maneuvering. Pilots hated it while I’m told that insurance companies liked it. I believe any sense of security from this would be real as opposed to false, as it is on all the time with no input required.

    No, there is no false sense of security from wearing seat belts, and there never was. You could tell from observing drivers with and without back in the years when it was not compulsory. They behaved the same. The seat belt was pure benefit.

    Yes, some other systems delivers a false sense of security. Cars with anti-blocking brakes were found to have more accidents back in the days where only some cars had them. Drivers drove closer to vehicles in front and had more rear-end accidents. Today that is different. All cars have anti-skid brakes, no-one thinks about it, and they work, making things a little bit safer, again because it requires nothing from the driver.

    A parachute and a fly-straight-button? Both are obvious to pilot and many passengers, and both require action at a critical moment. I’m not sure the false-sense-of-security problem is over for Cirrus.

  23. dean hatten Says:

    i drove a cirrus sr20 with the avidyne system for 700 hours, i now have 400 hours on a columbia 400 (not quite ready to call it a cessna 400 yet). i will tell anyone who asks, there ain’t no comparing the two. i simply would not fly the avidyne if i could afford the g1000. the g1000 is better by at least two orders of magnitude.
    LVL button? sure, why not. if the pilot is NIR, i think it is a no brainer.

  24. Eric Says:

    I just don’t understand all the comments criticizing the parachute and level button and any other safety options on this airplane. why would you NOT want them available? Key word here is AVAILABLE. i’d be willing to bet my last dollar if all the “joe testosterone pilots” above were in a serious situation (bird strike through the windshield and pilot blinded by debris, mid-air collision and wing/tail/rudder falls off, heart attack and unable to move limbs), they would thank their lucky angles that they were in an airplane equipped with such safety options.

    Of course, when they got on the they ground, it would probably be something like “that !@#% parachute popped out on me and I HAD to float to safety instead of dead-sticking it in”. I doubt we’ll ever see an NTSB report that reads: “pilot was so darn good he didn’t use any of the safety equipment provided”.

  25. Allen H Says:

    I flew a demo for nearly 2 hours on June 16th in the Perspective SR22. Original plan was for the Avidyne plane but the factory pilot got his Perspective Turbo demo plane 2 days earlier and had 1 day in school on the system. He has over 500 hours in SR22s to that point. So I was thrilled to get to fly the Perspective. I had flown an Avidyne SR22 a year ago so that was my only previous experience with Cirrus. I have previously owned a Mooney 201 with KFC 200 in it. The experience was great not only to see what the system can do but because I watched the demo pilot struggle with several things on a brief VFR flight. So I could see that no matter how “intuitive” a system may seem, there is still substantial training and practice that will be necessary to be safe & proficient. As to the $48,000 price, note it also includes a number of things you cannot even get in the Avidyne planes: True dual “full capacity” electrical system with the 2nd 70 amp alternator & second battery, dual AHARS which NONE of the current G-1000 planes have, not even the Baron G58, 12′ higher res screens instead of the 10″ screens, separate autopilot control panel with more features, and the alphanumeric control panel/keypad. Oh, yes and that LVL button! So the price is not just for a G1000 panel, but LOTS more redundancy and total integration. Every system shows up on a screen, including TKS and oxygen levels. There are no separate guages at all.

    My wife has resisted not only my own flying but going anywhere with me for over 30 years. All you guys who poo-poo additional safety innovations in any GA aircraft need to quit thinking about just yourselves for a minute and look around at the non-pilots among your own families and friends. Most non-pilots are uncomfortable at best and terrified at worst (like my wife) of flying in “small” airplanes. You need to also think about this when you have to pay for your next insurance policy. When we as an industry or group can improve safety in actuality and the perception of safety among the non-flying public we should applaud and support every advancement and innovation that strives to do that. Just think, it might actually improve the accident history and thereby our cost of flying! What a concept!

    After showing my wife the features of the SR22 and perspective & synthetic vision, I pointed out that if something happened to me (incapacitation) OR we had mechanical difficulty,(her biggest fear) we (she) needed only to 1.) push the “blue button”, 2.) pull the throttle back, and 3.) Pull the parachute. For the first time in 34 years of flying, she actually gave me a sincere “wow, that really is nice!” instead of the usual patronizing “yes, that’s nice, dear” reply. Then to top it off, she sat with me and wanted to know more about the plane and looked at the brochures. That has never happened before. I am getting ready to place my order next month.

    When any aircraft that can accomplish the conversion of a dedicated non-flyer to actually becoming interested in GA flying, we should all applaud that accomplishment! I certainly do!

  26. Allen H Says:

    Oh, I forgot: The other item included in the Perspective’s price tag is that SVT which Diamond has priced at $10,000 alone. Plus, the Perspective is only available on the very top of the Cirrus line, the SR22-GTS. The regular SR22 and the SR20 still have the Avidyne setup. But to “Help Me Decide” or anyone else wondering if the package is worth the money, this pilot says an unqualified YES! Funny, too how I note few people seem to be knocking the synthetic vision which is, at it’s core, a safety enhancement; yet so many are so quick to knock the “blue button”! As one who has studied the safety record of turbine business aircraft compared to piston GA aircraft, the main differences are total redundancy of systems so that not only can one fault, but several simultaneous ones, NOT bring down a turbine plane. We have not had that until recently But the more GA aircraft get the level of system redundancy and safety features that the turbine guys have, (like in Perspective) the sooner GA flying can come much closer to the safety record of the turbine guys! That should always be viewed by all of us as a good thing!

  27. Rob Says:

    So it’s okay for the airlines to automate close to 100% of the flying process leading to one of the safest means of travel there is however when someone purchases a plane giving them or their family enhanced safety options it’s not okay. Makes sense

    When was the last time you questioned your British Airways captain for not stick flying the aircraft for 8hrs into Heathrow airport with a 900ft cloud base. Ignorance and excessive confidence kills people. I have respect for anyone who steps in the aircraft and loves flying, there should be encouragement for the industry to bring about enhanced safety solutions so that EVERYONE has a get out of jail free card…every time I hear of a GA accident it sends chills down my back. The more outs a pilot has the better.

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