In the final fortnight before Lachlan Smart departs for his trip around the world that has been two and a half years in the planning, we sat down with him to get his thoughts on where he is at, what he has learned, ask about his plane and finally, discuss details of the trip.
Part III – In depth, detail about the Cirrus SR-22
Q: Tell us about the plane, what’s it like to fly the Cirrus SR-22?
LS: Flying this plane is phenomenal, it’s a real step up from all the other aircraft that I have flown. The performance of it when you fly it manually is great, and then it has features like an autopilot and the entire flight system which is really outstanding.
Q: What about in non-pilot speak, what’s it similar to?
LS: This cirrus is the jetliner of general aviation, stepping from some other planes into this is like going from a Toyota Corolla to a Mercedes-Benz.
Q: You’re yet to have the extra fuel tanks fitted, in simple words, how does that work?
LS: Essentially this fuel system will extend my range by two times as much as the standard fuel tanks in the plane. So instead of having five hours of fuel, I will have 15 hours.
The ferry tank replaces the back seats, and it is essentially a big rubber tank, cylindrical in shape and quite large, so I will fill it to just under capacity. It will allow me to transfer the fuel into the right hand side fuel tank, which feeds directly into the engine.
Q: Why do you supply fuel to the right hand tank only?
LS: Without getting too technical, I use the left hand tank for takeoff and use about half of that during the flight, and then switch to the right and keep topping that up. The weight of the fuel remaining in the left hand side tank can then be used as a counterbalance for the extra fuel that is going in the right hand side. It’s a safety measure from a weight and balance scenario, but also it’s safe to keep fuel in the left in case the pump in the right hand side fails and I need to land the plane somewhere.
Q: How do you fill the ferry tank?
LS: A tube comes out the top of the tank like a pipe, and that comes out the door so I can fill it up from outside the aircraft.