|First flight||21 March 1995|
|Number built||1,459 (through 2019)|
|Developed into||Cirrus SR22|
The Cirrus SR20 is an American piston-engined, four- or five-seat composite monoplane built since 1999 by Cirrus Aircraft of Duluth, Minnesota. The aircraft is the company's earliest type-certified model, earning certification in 1998.
It was the first production general aviation (GA) aircraft equipped with a parachute to lower the airplane safely to the ground after a loss of control, structural failure, or midair collision. The SR series was also the first mass-manufactured light aircraft with all-composite construction and flat-panel avionics.
The SR20 was developed into the Cirrus SR22, which was introduced in 2001 and is the most-produced GA aircraft of the 21st century.
The SR20 mock-up was unveiled in 1994. The aircraft first flew on 21 March 1995 and FAA certification was achieved on 23 October 1998. At the time of the airplane's release, the GA industry was struggling; the SR20 was one of the first of its kind to earn FAA Part 23 certification in several years. Over a thousand SR20s have been sold since deliveries began in July 1999. As of January 2021, nearly 8,000 SR-series aircraft had been delivered, something that no other aviation company has done for decades.
One of the major selling points for the SR20 is its Garmin Cirrus Perspective avionics suite with dual 10-inch (250 mm) or 12-inch (300 mm) screens: one primary flight display (PFD) and one multifunction display (MFD), first introduced by the company in May 2008. This provides all standard communication, navigation (GPS and conventional VHF), and surveillance (Mode S transponder) functions. Other avionics features include in-flight weather information and TCAS-like traffic information.
SR20s made from 1999 to 2003 were equipped with traditional analog instruments and a 10" MFD. In July 2003, Cirrus made Avidyne Entegra PFDs standard on the SR20 and faster SR22, pioneering the use of glass cockpits in the light aircraft GA industry.
The SR-series remains the only airplane in its class to include side-stick flight controls that combine aspects of a traditional yoke handle (this has been referred to in the industry as a "side yoke").
The SR20 and SR22 are equipped with the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), a large parachute that can be deployed in an emergency to lower the entire aircraft to the ground safely. As of September 2018, the SR-series has deployed the system 79 times carrying 163 survivors.
On 1 June 2004, the SR20 became the first aircraft to achieve the new European Aviation Safety Agency certificate for aircraft imported into the European Union.
In 2004, Cirrus introduced the SR20 G2 (Generation 2) and in 2008, the SR20 G3 (Generation 3). Both were defined by airframe modifications, G2 by fuselage and G3 by wing/landing gear changes.
In 2012, "60/40 flex seating" was introduced, allowing up to three passengers in the rear with a split fold-down seat arrangement. This five-seat configuration was optional in 2012, but became standard equipment for 2013 SR20 models.
In 2016, Cirrus introduced enhancements to the SR series, including Bluetooth wireless connectivity, a remote keyless entry, a convenience lighting system, and a new easy-access door latch, among other interior and exterior improvements.
In 2017, the company introduced the SR20 G6 (Generation 6), with several upgrades to the avionics, new navigation lights, and an increased useful load.
In September 2019, Cirrus unveiled the TRAC, a training-oriented version of the SR20, with a simplified interior, more durable seat material, backseat radio transmit switch to allow an observer to communicate with air traffic control, electronic stability and protection system, integrated engine indication and crew alerting/warning systems, and simulated retractable landing gear controls and position lights to allow cadets and instructors to feign landing-gear operation and failures during instructional flights (the actual landing gear remains permanently fixed).
In January 2020, the company introduced a new mobile application for the SR series, called "Cirrus IQ", which enables remote aircraft communication including access to preflight status information such as fuel and oxygen levels, battery voltage, oil temperature, aircraft location, and flight hours. Upgrades also included a new stabilized approach-advisory system for the flight deck. In January 2022, speed and aesthetic improvements were added to the G6 SR-series, with a 9 knots (17 km/h) increased cruise speed, upgrades to the mobile IQ app, USB-A and USB-C charging ports and more.
In 2011, the accident records of the SR20 and -22 were the subject of a detailed examination by Aviation Consumer magazine. The review concluded that the series has an overall accident record that is better than average for light aircraft, exceeded only by the Diamond DA40 and DA42. However, its fatal accident rate is much worse at 1.6/100,000 hours, placing it higher than the U.S. general aviation rate of 1.2 and higher than the Diamond DA40 (0.35), Cessna 172 (0.45), Diamond DA42 (0.54), Cessna 182 (0.69), and Cessna 400 (1.0), despite the Cirrus's CAPS.
By 2014, the accident rate had been dramatically reduced, with a 2013 fatal rate of 1.01 per 100,000 flight hours. This was attributed to better training, particularly in when to deploy the ballistic parachute system.
By 2015, the accident rate had continued to decrease, with a 2014 fatal rate of 0.42 per 100,000 flight hours, making it one of the best safety records in the industry. This marked the fewest fatalities in a single year for Cirrus since 2001, and the first year where the number of CAPS deployments (12) exceeded the number of fatal accidents (3).
The SR20 is popular with many flying schools and is operated by private individuals and companies. The largest operators are Civil Aviation Flight University of China with 40 aircraft, Aerosim Flight Academy with 34, Western Michigan University with 29, Lufthansa Flight Training and United Aviate Academy both with 25, and Purdue University with 16.
Between 1999 and September 2019, the SR20 was involved in 35 known fatal accidents. Listed below are some of the most notable ones.
Data from Cirrus SR20 Specifications Webpage
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