9:40 PM

What Surprises Will
Team Duluth Have for
Us This Summer?

There are many, many reasons we aviators and wannabes flock to Oshkosh, Wisconsin every summer for Airventure. There's the acres upon acres of every make/model of airplane known to man, and there's the World's Largest Grill cooking tons of bratwurst. There's the afternoon airshow featuring the best aerobatic pilots on this planet bringing their "A" game to show center at Wittman Regional Airport, and there's the camaraderie that comes from surrounding yourself with 75,000 other pilots, all breathing air injected with the sweet smell of burnt avgas while their ears bask in the symphony of 1,000 radial engines singing the one note song we all crave.

But the best reason to attend Airventure is the announcements that airframe, engine and avionics manufacturers make at the precise time when the entire aviation world is watching. They all save their very best for this show, releasing their new models and taking the wraps off anything their skunk works has dreamt up throughout the year.
So it is a little surprising to me that Cirrus Design just announced their optional Garmin Perspective panel. This post is not about the very cool features of this wonderful avionics suite, but if you want a really great look at the Perspective, check out Max Trescott's blog post here. Max was chosen as 2008 National CFI of the Year, and has authored books on the G1000 suite, so he knows a few things about glass cockpits.

No, this post is not about the new Cirrus panel. What is about though, is this:
In my mind, there can be no disputing the fact that Cirrus Design is the "bar setter" of all general aviation. While other companies may make more models of business jets and dabble in legacy lines of high-wing birds, when it comes to forward thinking people designing the industry's coolest composite fixed gear planes, nobody does it better than Cirrus. So with the cat out of the bag about their new Garmin suite, what can the Duluth Design Bureau have up their sleeves for Oshkosh?
Let's take a look now at their current line-up. They've already told us about their Light Sport, no big news there. The SR-20 is selling well, and no other single-engine model can touch the sales numbers racked up by the SR-22. The The Jet (that name is STILL hard to spit out) is coming right along, but is it close enough to have a prototype fly in and land at OSH?

Oh what a fantasy land the mind can create when left alone to think about flying machines:
The one thing I would LOVE to see Cirrus announce is a SR-22 based light twin. How far of a stretch would it be to take their current airframe, give it a very sexy new pointy nose, and hang a Continental IO-550-N off each wing? The only competition would be the G58 Baron and Diamond's DA-42 Twinstar. And with the brand recognition Cirrus would bring to the light twin market, it would not be hard to quickly see them ascend to be the King of that hill.
Now let's really go on on a limb and ponder a Cirrus turboprop. Take their proven SR-22 airframe and hang a PT6 engine by Pratt & Whitney off the nose. Give it retractable gear, and suddenly you have a serious step-up model to bridge the gap between SR-22 and the The Jet. Think Lancair Evolution Propjet, only the Cirrus would be delivered already bolted (glued?) together.

And lastly, maybe they will take the sleek SR-22 fuselage, make it a little wider and stretch it out to fit in two more of those gorgeous leather seats. They can call it a SR-22 Six, like Piper did with their Cherokee line in 1965 when they made a stretch limo version of the 235 to give birth to the PA-32-260.

Whatever Cirrus debuts at Airventure this year, it will be two things if nothing else: (a) Groovy and (b) Beautiful.

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