Update On The Status Of Your Aircraft Purchase …

Last week two of my cylinders got sent to to the cylinder shop to have the exhaust valves replaced.  They both showed discoloration around the valve, and one of them compression tested at 30/80.  Then at the end of the week the cylinder shop notified the pre-buy shop that they found cracks in both of the cylinders.  The original shop is worked with Cirrus to get new cylinders which are luckily still under warranty.  Well, today I learned that UPS lost my cylinders.  But good news – they found them again.  They should get here on Wednesday.

TIL that managing aircraft maintenance schedules is like managing software projects.  You expect to be done in a week?  Ok, great! (I’ll expect it in two).

I happened to have purchased my commercial one way tickets and reserved CFI time for two weeks out instead of one, so I’m still ok as long as things don’t slip anymore this week.  Sounds just like every single software project ever.

In the meantime, I’m thinking about what a great future trip the Bahamas would make.  This was pointed out on reddit:

AOPA’s Flight Planning Guide Bahamas


Garmin vs. Avidyne

I did almost all of my training in a little Piper ArcherIII with Avidyne Integra and dual Garmin 430s.  I really liked that setup, and I feel very comfortable with the way things work and the general layout.  But when it came time to purchase my own plane I decided to fork over the extra money for one of the G1000 Garmin Perspective models.  I do have about 30 hrs with a G1000 package in some of the club Cessnas, but I’ve only done a few approaches with a G1000.  So why the switch?

The main reason is because the Avidyne systems don’t come stock in the SR22s anymore.  I fear that in a few years nobody will even know what those Avidyne devices even are anymore, and it’ll excessively devalue the airplane.  Since the G1000 is the dominant platform, I expect them to come out with updates more regularly, and I expect that over time the online information will become overwhelmingly G1000.

The secondary reasons are related to the extra features of the G1000.  Synthetic vision is nice.  The auto-ident nav feature is something which I’m convinced has saved lives.  True, you still want to listen to the nav radio to positively identify your nav source, but when you’re rapidly approaching the FAF it’s nice to glance over at the display and get confirmation that you are tracking what you think you are.  For those who aren’t aware of this feature: with the G1000 it will listen to the morse code on the nav frequency and display the code it gets.  If you think you’re tracking an ILS and what you see on the screen is a VOR, you messed something up and need to correct immediately.  There are plenty of NTSB reports from crashes where pilots were tracking the wrong nav source.

And finally, one of the other key reasons for the Garmin is the reliability of the system.  I’ve simply read too many reports of pilots losing their Avidyne systems in flight and having to switch over to backup needles.  There’s been electrical system problems, and cheap video cable related problems.  I don’t want to have to deal with these things.

Is there anything nicer about the Avidyne?  Yes – I like the layout better.  I like the buttons along the sides of the PFD which related to the different display tabs along the side.

And there are actually some things I like better about the G430 over the G1000.  If you have a dual G430 setup you can have two completely different flight plans loaded, both independent and active.  I’ve actually done this before when I was planning to ask ATC for an IFR deviation but I wanted to plan out the new route in the device first.  That worked out beautifully.

The other thing I like better about the G430 over the G1000 is the difference between “direct to” vs “activate leg” on a flight plan.  With the G430 DIRECT, ENTER, ENTER means fly “direct to”, while DIRECT, DIRECT, ENTER means “activate leg”.  I actually couldn’t figure out how to do “activate leg” on the G1000 until I watched Max Trescott’s G1000 dvds.  During the IFR portion he describes doing this via the MENU softkey.  Who knew?


Cirrus Oxygen Mask

One thing I’ll be needing is an oxygen mask.  I want to get to FL250 and somewhere between 12,000 and there means death without oxygen.  I went to the pilot store at Palo Alto, they had masks, I bought one, along with oximeter:

Now I’ve learned that there’s different types of connectors and apparently you need to purchase a mask which matches the flowmeter in your oxygen system.  Oh.  My CSIP sent me a picture of the connector from his mask and of course it’s not the same.  I bought the wrong one – too bad, so sad.  So what is the right type of flow meter?  I can’t seem to find this information anywhere.  Apparently PreciseFlight makes the Cirrus on-board oxygen systems.  Looking at their website I see many different types of flow meters.  Now I’m lost.  I’ve asked the shop if they know.

UPDATE: Chris Shaffer at Wisconsin Aviation has the answer:

“The aircraft has two Precise Flight Oxygen masks and 2 Model A-4 in-line flowmeters in it”

Hopefully this will be useful to somebody else at some point.  I don’t know if they all have A-4 connectors, but now I know what mine has.

UPDATE #2: The Precise Flight Guys Are Officially Cool


Choosing My Home Airport

I did most of my training out of Palo Alto (KPAO) because I learned at Advantage-Aviation.  Now, when considering a home airport for my new plane, the first consideration was distance from home.  I live in San Francisco, so the closest airport is San Carlos (KSQL).  I’ve never done instrument flying in or out of San Carlos.  So what’s that like?

Here’s two really great pages which talk about PAO in general, and specifically instrument procedures at San Carlos:

  1. Palo Alto Page
  2. San Carlos Departures Page

One piece of advice I was given is that San Carlos is more dangerous because if you lose power on the upwind from 30 you basically have nowhere to go.  I also heard that NorCal used to hate giving out the approaches for San Carlos.

In then end, I chose San Carlos purely for location convenience.

I wish more people would write about this stuff.  Hopefully I will once I go through some of these procedures.  I’ll get some videos up of the approaches too, as soon as we get some nice IMC days and I purchase a GoPro.


Congratulations! – You Own An Airplane And It’s In Pieces

I’ve been looking around for some good Cirrus SR22 blogs to read others’ experiences.  There’s some good ones out there.  SR22Blog is good, but hasn’t been updated in a while.  Philip Greenspun had a bunch of interesting stuff up at one point, but he’s changed his blog around and I can’t seem to find it now.

I decided that I would put some stuff up about what I was going thorough in my purchase.  As of yesterday, I now own a 2008 Cirrus SR22 Turbo with the Garmin Perspective!

Some information about me.  I currently have 289.4 total hours, most of that in a little Piper Archer III (PA28-181) with an Avidyne and dual Garmin 430 setup.  I have my PPL, IR, and high performance and complex ratings.  I have 6.9 hours in an SR22 non-turbo.  My time in the SR22 has been some of the most comfortable I’ve been in an airplane.

Why am I buying an airplane?  My fiancé lives in Santa Barbara and I live in San Francisco.  Work takes me to many different places around the west coast.  My Mom lives in Arizona and my Brother and lot’s of friends live in Seattle.  I’m hoping to use my own plane for most of that travel.

Why the Cirrus?  The way I look at it, when you’re going to spend between $200k and $500k on a single engine piston airplane your choices are basically a) Mooney, or b) Cirrus.  Mooney is retract, specifically controlled constant speed prop, all metal, vernier controls, G1000.  Cirrus is fixed gear, slaved constant speed prop (to the engine lever), composite, straight controls, G1000.  Honestly I like both of these airplanes.  I like the Cirrus a little better because a) fixed gear, and b) straight controls.  I’ve heard too many stories about people coming in with gear up.  Yes, I understand, checklists save the day here. I know.  And still, after a long flight, hungry, low energy, have to go to the bathroom, just want to get on the ground, short final – it happens.  As for the vernier controls, yes, finer grained movements.  And yet, I just love the feel of pushing the throttle lever forward.  And lastly, I do really like the fact that the prop is slaved to the throttle on the Cirrus.  I’m sure there are many fine grained movements adjusting the throttle and prop pitch to optimize speed and fuel flow, and yet I love the simplicity of the Cirrus.

Some things I have learned while going through this purchase process:

  1. Start working on insurance early, and figure out who you need as a “named insured”.  For me, I needed a) CFI/CSIP, b) SAMM, c) the county who owns the airport where I will be parking my plane.  It’s a few day turn around for each of these, so make sure you know what to ask for up front.
  2. Use SAMM.  They will charge you a (pretty small) annual fee to manage your aircraft maintenance, including the pre-buy inspection.  I honestly don’t know how I would have gotten through this without them.  Just figuring out which shop made sense to even do the pre-buy was something where I was immediately out of my element and they made clear they knew exactly what to do.  I can’t say enough good things about Savvy.
  3. When you purchase, negotiate on a price, then do the pre-buy, then take the repair estimate and lower your price by that amount.  Do NOT attempt to get the seller to cover things before you purchase.  What you want to do is get the seller out of the process as soon as possible.  You do not want to be negotiating up to the last minute on what should be fixed and what shouldn’t.
  4. Join COPA – it’s a great resource for Cirrus Pilots, lot’s of good forums

Ok, so I now own this airplane.  When I was discussing with Mike Busch from Savvy about this process his advice was to take ownership of the airplane at the pre-buy location just after the pre-buy, but before the airplane is put back together again.  This way you, as the new owner, can decide what needs to get fixed and what doesn’t (within the scope of the FAR of course).  As he put it “Congratulations! You own an airplane – and it’s in pieces”.