10 Expensive or even Dangerous Mistakes Cirrus Pilots must avoid!

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1 Category: Expensive repair
Never try to start a Cirrus airplane with external power if the battery (#1, Main Battery) is completely discharged. Doing so might result in destroying the electrical system and even the avionics. If the main battery is discharged test it first and if it’s still ok charge it outside of the airplane before reinstalling it.

2 Category: Expensive or very expensive repair
Do not combine a lightweight prop (Hartzell carbon prop, MT 4-blade) with a lightweight starter, install the Hartzell Energizer starter for lightweight props. With the lightweight starter there’s a higher chance of engine/prop kickback (overpriming, bad magneto timing, faulty impulse coupling) – and the kickback can not only destroy the starter adapter but could even result in damage of the engine

Category: Dangerous and unnecessary risk
Never fly with the CAPS safety pin still in the parachute handle. Also you should not fly with the CAPS handle completely covered by the placard. The parachute works down to 500 feet AGL and the lowest successful „Pull“ was at only 429 feet  above the ground. At these low altitudes every 1/10 of a second counts if you need the CAPS system – and having to remove the cover first before you can access the handle can make the difference.

4 Category: Expensive repair
In an Avidyne Cirrus never leave ALT 2 switched on at low RPMs, because it can cause damage in the MCU. The alternator 2 cannot produce enough power at low RPM. The FCM keeps upping the current the the field to try and get more output. That stresses the current rating of the pin on the MCU. It will eventually harm the pin and the connector.
Best practice is to taxi with bat 2 on, Alt 2 off.  Alt 1 will charge bat 2 in this configuration. There really is no observable difference while operating this way. Turn on alt 2 during run up to check operation, then switch it back off. Then as you take the runway cleared for take off turn on alt 2.

5 Category: Stupid and expensive
Leaving fuel caps loose thinking you’ll get back to it. Wonder how I know that? I had both fuel caps unlocked and put them loosely on the fuel openings when I discovered that the pump didn’t work. I decided to fly to another airport for refueling – and forgot about the fuel caps. I lost the first one after takeoff and the other one later. 2 new fuel caps cost me almost $ 700.

6 Category: Expensive to dangerous
After maintenance, always check the 2 small screws at the front of the cowl behind the prop cone. If those two small screws are not installed there’s a certain risk that the upper cowling will depart the airplane in flight. It can hit the windshield or the tail, and it does not take much imagination to understand what will happen if that happens.

7 Category: Expensive Repair
Never pull a Cirrus by the tail tie down. The tie down works well when the force is vertical only, but pulling the plane by the rear tie down will damage the spar in the vertical tail, and that is an expensive repair with a lot of composite work.

8 Category: Deadly
Never allow an uncoordinated stall, especially down low. Many of the fatal Cirrus accidents were the result of low altitude maneuvering and uncoordinated stalls – and it did not only happen to beginners but also to very experienced CFIs, Airline and Airforce pilots. While one could argue that these accidents happen in all types of single engine airplanes it must be noted that while the Cirrus is very well mannered in the stall uncoordinated stalls at low altitude must be avoided at all cost, because the airplane will react more aggressively than a fat wing trainer. Also there will not be enough time to even reach the CAPS handle.

9 Category: Dangerous and very expensive repair
If you bounce the nose wheel on landing, go around immediately, the next bounce(s) will get larger until the prop strikes the runway. The worst solution in case of a bounce is to push the nose down onto the runway, this usually results in failure of the nose landing gear and a subsequent prop strike … and shock loading inspection. Total cost can be up to $ 80.000 especially if a Hartzell Carbon prop is involved ($30K). Go around early!

10 Very dangerous to deadly
Lose control in go-around. Especially with the powerful IO-550 engine of the SR22 you have to be careful when you add full power at low speeds with the flaps hanging down. Make sure to lower the nose while adding power, stay coordinated. Do not add full power in an abrupt way.

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1995-2002 Redakteur und Chefreporter bei fliegermagazin, 2004-2008 Chefredakteur des Airbus-Magazins "Planet Aerospace". Seit 2002 Buchautor und freiberuflicher Luftfahrtjournalist. Privatpilot mit IR Rating.

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