You should know this step if you fly Cirrus SR22 Turbo

Flying the step Cirrus SR22TN, FL17.5, TAS 189 kts., GS 194 kts, credit wikiWings
Flying the step, Cirrus SR22TN, FL17.5, TAS 189 kts., GS 194 kts., 76% power., 2510 RPM, 29.7 MP, 15.7 GPH, credit wikiWings

Do you always reach best true airspeed in cruise? You should know this step to use aircraft momentum from slightly above a selected altitude to accelerate into best cruise speed.  The procedure has at least 3 benefits:

  • It’s a process check
  • No delay – you don’t wait on engine power
  • Cooler cylinder head temperatures

Here’s a process check using the GFC-700 autopilot in a Cirrus Perspective SR22TN Turbo.

Process Check

In a full power climb from below, select an altitude 100 feet above the target cruise level, in this example 17,600 feet. Upon reaching 17,600 feet, reset the altitude select to 17,500 feet. Then touch the autopilot Vertical Speed (VS) and dial in a 400 foot per minute descent.  This will set the plane in a slightly nose down position and use aircraft momentum to accelerate into best true airspeed (TAS). Continue reading “You should know this step if you fly Cirrus SR22 Turbo”

Getting on the step with a full power climb from below

Cirrus SR22TN Turbo, transition instructions from full power climb to cruise power, photo credit wikiWings
Cirrus SR22TN Turbo, transition instructions from full power climb to cruise power, photo credit wikiWings

Getting ‘on the step’ in a climb from below is easier with a Turbo Cirrus SR22 because the engine produces 100% full power all the way into the flight levels.  Pilot work-load is reduced because no mixture adjustments are required and there are no cowl flaps.  You just maintain full throttle and full mixture all the way up.

In a climb from below into cruise, you cannot always use the same procedure and get the same result.  Powering to best cruise speed can be affected by a number of variables; such as, airplane weight, balance, and density altitude.  Your time at full power may change if you have more fuel or an extra passenger or baggage in back (weight & balance) or hotter day (density altitude).

You’ll want to verify that the plane has accelerated to best cruise speed. Continue reading “Getting on the step with a full power climb from below”

Two Turbo Cirrus pilots realize they have not always been in level cruise flight

Cirrus SR22TN-G3 Turbo, smooth air 10,500 feet above the GA traffic, blue sky, photo credit wikiWings
Cirrus SR22TN-G3 Turbo, smooth air 10,500 feet above the GA traffic, blue sky, photo credit wikiWings

I know two pilots that have flown a Turbo Cirrus for about 3 years.  And, they recently realized their Cirrus has not always been established in best performance cruise flight based on reading AOPA Pilot and letters from fellow aviators regarding Barry Schiff’s article “Stepping Along, ‘On the Step’ Fact or Fiction.”

Barry says, ” many pilots tend to prematurely and impatiently reduce power after leveling off.  The throttle often is retarded before the airplane has had a chance to accelerate to normal cruise speed.  In a sense, the airplane is established in a subtle form of mushing flight.”

When entering a selected cruise altitude from below, a Cirrus SR22TN Turbo may require up to 2 minutes at full power to pull the airplane into level cruise flight.  But have you ever listened to a turbocharged TCM IO-550 engine at full power in level cruise flight?  If you have then you understand why some pilots may pull the power back after about a half-minute.  In less than a minute a turbo Cirrus will accelerate and appear to be in level flight.  Continue reading “Two Turbo Cirrus pilots realize they have not always been in level cruise flight”

Here’s how I would define flying “on the step.”

The known definitions for the term flying “on the step” are summarized below:

Flying “on the step” defined

"Flying the step" B-24 Pilot Training Manual for the Liberator, published 1945, page 68.
“Flying the step” B-24 Pilot Training Manual for the Liberator, published by Headquarters, AAF, Office of Flying Safety, Winston-Salem, NC, Revised May 1, 1945, p68.
    1. (verb) Getting “on the step” is a term used by the military.  The military citations always involve using momentum from slightly above the selected altitude to accelerate the aircraft and lower the nose into best cruise performance.  The procedure is an assist to formation flying by reducing process variation. The earliest documented origin for the term is found in the B-24 Liberator operating manual circa 1945.
    2. (verb) A procedure used to set an airplane in level flight for best cruise performance. The procedure can be initiated properly from below or from above the selected cruise altitude.  If flown correctly, the final cruise speed is the same regardless of entering the selected altitude from above or from below.
    3. (noun) A condition or state in cruise flight that produces a higher cruise speed which can only be attained through a unique technique. Subject matter experts have asserted it to be a myth or old-timer’s tale.

 

 

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