We Fly: Cirrus Vision Jet G2+
Flying|October 2021
Hot and high and connected
Julie Boatman

What will it feel like if you ride the chute down? Skydivers know one answer—based on the parachute they strap themselves into. The pilots who have put various aircraft through their initial paces in the experimental stage may know another—the deployment of a flight-test airframe chute to recover during spin testing gone south or an airframemishap. Somewhere in between sits a pilot in the future who has pulled on the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System handle in a Cirrus SF50. The company wants everyone who will sit left seat in its single-engine Vision Jet to know how that feels so pilots will be able to do it if they need to—but not without conscientious determination.

Many pilots, myself among them, will feel uneasy—or worse—at surrendering control of the airplane to a piece of fabric unfolding on thick cables somewhere above the airframe, as you swing like a pendulum below. The sense of this stays with you, proved when I flew in the company’s Vision Jet G1 simulator this past fall at the Vision Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. And it keeps most of us, I believe, from pulling that handle indiscriminately.

But I thought of this option when we encountered a long climb through unanticipated ice in early July during a test flight of the latest Vision Jet iteration, the G2+, from Chattanooga (KCHA), Tennessee, to Hagerstown (KHGR), Maryland. Not that we even came close to pulling out that particular checklist, but the fact that this is one jet with that final option available entered into my thought process. There’s an underlying comfort to that but also a different kind of responsibility.

And it’s one that now extends to the addition of Safe Return—the Cirrus name for Garmin’s 2021 Flying Innovation Award-winning Autoland system—the G2 platform that was designed around the capability to land the airplane without pilot intervention.

Test Flights

The cold rain on a July morning in Tennessee came as a surprise—and frankly did not bode well for a demo pilot looking to show off hot-and-high-altitude performance. Fortunately, it wasn’t my first time flying with Cirrus Aircraft’s Matt Bergwall in the SF50. We’d had a couple of hours in the straight G2 version a few months earlier, plus a solid session in the sim. More on that—and its value both in initial type rating and recurrent training—a bit later.

Before we met up for the flight, Bergwall and I briefed the new features on the G2+, which centered around an update to the Williams International FJ33-5A engine that expanded temperature limits, allowing for the use of more of the available thrust at high temperatures and field elevations. This would result in a projected boost of 20 percent at the highest airports in the system as well as a respectable 4 percent reduction in takeoff and landing distances at sea level. We would also have a chance to see the jet’s latest advancement in connectivity: the addition of in-flight Wi-Fi from Gogo.

I should have known—or maybe Bergwall should have been more skeptical of—the juju I would bring to the flight when he picked me up at Wilson Air Center on the west side of the field at Chattanooga. So far, we are two for two in gathering a significant collection of mixed ice on our duo of days flying the jet together. Fair warning for next time, Matt! But once more, it was instructive on many levels.

On our first flight in the previous G2 model, N858AG, back in December 2020, the ice was not only anticipated— yeah, December—it was also wholly expected, given the reports of light rime on the descent from Delta and Envoy flights coming into Knoxville that morning. We had a lot of room under the overcast and only a thin layer to contend with, so what little we picked up in the transit between 2,500 and 10,000 feet—though not anything to brush off—was a nonevent, save for the fact it gave me a good sense of how the deice and anti-ice systems work on the SF50. We turned on the boots as we entered the clouds, along with the engine anti-ice we’d engaged after takeoff and the alcohol-based ice protection system for the windshield.

Flash-forward to July this year. We’d had a letup in the morning sprinkles when we went out on the ramp to N275CM that gave some indication of the moisture level to be found within the clouds above. Once preflight, loaded, and on our way, we took another look at the weather to expect for the 454 nm journey ahead. There was some convective activity buried in the layers centered about 65 nm south of the Volunteer VOR (VXV) near Knoxville, but there were widely spaced cells and no pireps of note. We planned for a climb to the airplane’s max cruising altitude of 31,000 feet to take advantage of whatever speed advantage we could find up there.

Not expecting to see much in terms of takeoff performance change at KCHA, we launched, carrying nearly full fuel (270 gallons), which was enough plus more than ample reserves for the trip, as well as our 650 pounds of people and baggage; the flight planned 131 gallons plus 52 gallons of reserve fuel equaled 183 gallons of the 296-gallon usable capacity, or 1,231 pounds.

A The Safe Return activation button is placed aft of the pilot’s head, in the center of the ceiling, where passengers can reach it easily.

B Engine start is made simple by the faded governing the FJ33-5A: The pilot switches a knob to “run,” pushes the start button, introduces fuel, and monitors the engine-indicating system for a proper start.

C The onscreen digital checklist carries through from Cirrus Aircraft’s earliest days in the SR20.

D The autothrottle adds a trio of buttons and a thumbwheel near the power lever to engage or disengage the system as well as manage the speed source and parameters.

E The 14-inch displays can be configured in a variety of ways to show SiriusXM weather or radar, EVS, systems diagrams, approach charts, and other navigational elements.

Configuration of the MFD can show a broad weather picture or zoom in on system details.

Cirrus Vision Jet G2+

Price (as tested): about $2.98 million

Engine: Williams International FJ33-5A (1,846 lb. of thrust)

Seats: 7 (5 adults + 2 children)

Length: 30.7 ft.

Height: 10.9 ft.

Cabin Width: 5.1 ft.

Wingspan: 38.7 ft.

Power Loading: 3.25 lb./thrust lb.

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