This Is How They Build 'Em
We've had a ball showing you various aspects of how and why the Cirrus Aircraft SR20s and SR22s became some of the most popular aircraft in recent GA history. But the build process is nearly as fascinating as the airplanes themselves... especially in light of the changes the G3 version of the SR series has undergone in the last two years.
Not only did they redesign the airplane to be better in the air, but to be assembled in a more economical and sturdier fashion. The G3 update was extensive... 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 update of the primary wing structure resulted in a stronger and stiffer wing that allowed CD to carve well over 50 pounds out of that assembly -- and then they used that leeway to increase the bird's effective range.
The gear was heavily modified to be a somewhat narrower and taller construct and added some prop clearance, to boot. 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.
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.
One of the other most noticeable changes was 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.
It was a massive series of changes... and the people who build them are justifiably proud of the birds that resulted. Come along and see what we mean as we watch Cirrus build the current generation of GA composite airplanes.
ANN E-I-C Note: We've been able to present a fair amount of Cirrus material via Aero-TV this year for a few simple reasons... Cirrus is getting a handle on NewMedia and understands how important it is, they welcomed us with open arms and made our job so very much easier than it might have been, they are absolutely delightful to deal with, and they have always believed that the best way to sell airplanes is to tell all...