I happen to know a guy who knows a guy who’s buying one of these. Since my life is steeped in aviation I try to make it a point to be at the right place at the right time. In this case, I was invited to ride aboard serial number 8 of the class defining Cirrus single-engine personal jet.
In case you might not be up to speed on the details of this aircraft, the Cirrus Vision SF50 was envisioned back in 2006 when the Very Light Jet (VLJ) market seemed a boon. The economic down turn all but wiped out the development of the Vision and production was put on hold indefinitely as the company was restructured. After an influx of Chinese cash, the project was reinvigorated and the aircraft was awarded its type certificate after 10 years of development from the Federal Aviation Administration in the fall of 2016.
Cirrus might be best known for selling the most single-engine four-seat aircraft every year since 2004. Their SR22 is a high-performance composite piston airplane with a whole-plane emergency recovery parachute system. Cirrus thought its customers deserved a turbine upgrade path so entered the Vision jet. It too has a composite construction with an emergency parachute. Flying at similar speeds and configurations as its little brother, the simple controls and layouts are intended to be a natural transition for any existing Cirrus pilot.
I was impressed by the ample acceleration from the single engine as we sped down the runway, followed by an effortless climb to 28,000 feet. A few moments later we had accelerated to 350 mph. Just set the throttle for takeoff, climb, or cruise and let the computer do the rest. Once leveled off, the massive front windscreen provided on of the best panoramic views I’ve ever beheld from the flight levels.
Two large Garmin displays provided any information about the flight that could be desired and three smaller screens allowed the pilot to interact with the system through a simple-to-navigate touchscreen interface.
The interior was comfortable and spacious, albeit fairly loud. Unlike other smaller personal jets, a pair of noise cancelling headsets is required to hear and talk with other passengers or crew. This is most likely due to the fact that I was sitting directly beneath the Williams FJ33 turbofan engine, which can pump out up to 1,500 lbs of thrust.
My cohort was in the left seat manning the controls and although he had very little time in a Cirrus he handled the aircraft with mastery. We were undecided if this was due to such a forgiving airplane or his excellent piloting skills. We figured it was a little of both.
Gear is dropped at 230 mph (which is pretty fast for that sort of thing), essentially a speed brake. Flaps shortly after and with power set at 30% the airplane is driven down to landing at a very reasonable speed of 90 mph. About the same as most light twins, and eerily slow speed for a seven-passenger jet.
A simple flare over the runway and the trailing link landing gear absorbs the touchdown with grace. All-in-all a very impressive aircraft that’s dead simple which any pilot could fly with plenty of technology to keep crew informed of all flight activity for a successful flight.
10/10 would spend 2 million if I had it.