Reason 8 – Turbocharged Cirrus

All of us face headwinds. But for some, they seem more frequent. How well does the turbocharged Cirrus cope with headwinds and how does it compare with the normally aspirated Cirrus SR22 and the Piper Archer?

 Reason 8 – Better Headwind Performance

Headwinds are not always stronger at higher altitudes. This past year, on a 500 nm westward flight from Birmingham Alabama to Houston Texas, headwinds were 25 knots from about 6,000 through 18,000 feet.

Here’s a comparison of aircraft ground speeds with that 25 knot headwind.

Ground Speed Results with 2500 RPM and 25 knot Headwind

Aircraft Headwind TAS Grnd Spd % Pwr Alt.
SR22TN 25 193 168 75-77 18000
SR22 NA 25 168 143 49-55 16000
SR22 NA 25 176 151 71-75 8000
Archer 25 115 90 75 6000

By climbing to 18,000 feet the turbocharged Cirrus gains ground speed and is 25 knots faster than the normally aspirated SR22.  On that day, turbo climbing provided a smooth ride with clear sky above the clouds. Flight time was about 3 hours.

But for the normally aspirated Cirrus SR22 NA, climbing to 16,000 feet results in a ground speed penalty of 8 more knots, because the engine cannot produce best power at higher altitudes, and the climb takes almost twice as long as the turbocharged Cirrus. Flight time would be about 3.5 hours, at 16,000 feet in the normally aspirated Cirrus (refer SR22 POH, Section 5-24, revision 2).

On several occasions, I’ve met 25 knot headwinds navigating from Birmingham Alabama to Houston Texas in my Piper Archer, and the ground speed dropped about 22% from 115 to 90 knots. It makes for a long day and weather planning pre-flight and en route becomes more complicated. Flight time alone was more than 5.5 hours plus time on the ground for a fuel stop mid-way.

The Cirrus Turbo delivers comfortable advance performance personal transportation with the best net ground speed and better headwind results than normally aspirated single-engine pistons.

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