Welcome to this review of the vFlyteAir Cirrus SR20 G1000 v2.5! First, let me explain how I generally feel about glass cockpits. When I got this aircraft I had mixed feelings. I am not a big fan of those highly automated G1000 glass cockpits. To me, flying GA aircraft is my personal contrast to flying heavy airliners. I don’t want any automation when flying GA. Heck, I usually fly my GA’s by hand. Another factor is my experience with G1000 outfitted products in the past. I never owned a single G1000 aircraft before that fully satisfied me. Usually they weren’t really responsive, or worse, they tended to cause crashes. After vFlyteAir announced their version 2.5 update to their Cirrus SR20, which also promised (limited) support for procedures (SID/STAR, approaches etc.) I thought I should give it another try. And boy I was not disappointed. That said, let’s dive right into it!
For the purpose of this review we’re gonna do an early morning IFR flight from RD Studios’ KHAF Half Moon Bay (a separate review covering this scenery is coming soon) to MisterX6’s KPDX Portland International. If you want to recreate this flight, the full route is KHAF STINS DCT PYE DCT GETER DCT RBL DCT MOXEE KPDX. I used SkyMaxx Pro v4.5, Real Weather Connector and FS Global Real Weather for the weather and XPRealistic Pro to enhance the immersion factor.
As usual let’s start with the walkaround. Once the aircraft was loaded the first thing that struck my mind was the remarkable attention to detail. The model is very detailed and literally all textures are razor-sharp. You can see every handle you would expect to find on this aircraft, open doors, add chocks and the pitot cover. Detail-wise the Cirrus SR20 is probably vFlyteAir’s best product thus far, at least compared to the single engine Pipers, which I own all. However, vFlyteAir always put a lot of attention into detail so this was not too much of a surprise but it is still worth to be mentioned here.
In case you already own one of vFlyteAir’s products you are probably accustomed to their menu on the side of the screen. The Cirrus SR20 v2.5 already utilizes the newer design which is not only pleasing to the eye but also very useful and easy to use. Have a look at the screenshot below. You can change certain parameters with a single click without the need to ever use X-Plane’s built-in menus. Personally I prefer such solutions over the default menus as you don’t have to interrupt your flight. It’s not a big deal but I always find it more immersive when you don’t have to interrupt your flight for certain tasks.
Once I fueled my SR20 I jumped right into the cockpit. My initial impression? WOW, just WOW! This is probably the single most beautiful cockpit of any GA aircraft I have ever owned. I know this is highly subjective but the attention to detail and the razor-sharp textures are just outstanding! Together with RD Studios’ beautiful scenery of KHAF Half Moon Bay (by the way the trees are moving in the wind <3 ) I really get the impression of being there. I love it!
After looking at all the details inside and outside this beautiful SR20 I begin with my checklists which eventually leads us to the part I dreaded the most: Entering the flight plan into the G1000. 😉 Firing this aircraft and its systems up is fairly straight forward so I’m gonna concentrate on the G1000 from now on. First thing you’ll notice when you click on the screen of the PFD or MFD is the appearance of 3 dimensional pop-ups. That is pretty awesome. Not only does this help a lot when entering commands as it helps with reading without the need to change your point of view. You can also drag it around inside your cockpit. This is great for pilots that use head-tracking. Just look to the left or any other direction you want your pop-up to be and you can see every detail of the pop-up right in front of you. A great feature that other developers should also implement into their products.
The flight plan itself, to my surprise, was very easy to enter and this was also not interrupted by an error or missing feature or anything like that. If you ever used a Garmin style product in X-Plane before it is probably pretty self-explanatory. At least I did not have the need to actually read the (very good) manual before (I do use the GTN750 a lot though). If you don’t want to enter a complicated flight plan into the G1000 yourself, there is a flight plan “load” and “save” feature implemented directly into the MFD. See the two SD-card slots on the right hand side of the MFD (see screenshot below)? A click on them will either open the “load” or the “save” dialogue, depending on which SD-card slot you click. The best thing though is this: In preparation of this review I did some flights, all using flight plans including SIDs, STARs, and/or approaches and I never experienced a single problem. vFlyteAir apparently made the whole thing totally stable and responsive. No crashes, no hiccups, the thing just works!
One thing that should be noted though is that vFlyteAir’s representation of the G1000 does not resemble the original G1000 by 100%. There are differences and not all features are implemented. However vFlyteAir is pretty open and transparent about this and they ask you to read the manual before you decide to buy the Cirrus SR20. I think that’s pretty fair to their customers. Having said all that, everything that is implemented works flawlessly. If you are a fan of the G1000, you almost certainly won’t be disappointed.
Leaving the well made flight plan integration including SIDs and STARs aside, vFlyteAir’s G1000 also features integrated checklists. That’s a feature I personally like a lot as I don’t want to print checklists all the time and I’m also not a fan of Xchecklist (I try to keep my plug-in count as low as possible).
Let’s put everything to test and bring that bird up in the air. But before that, time to enjoy the scenery (look at all that grass 😎 )! OK so I line my aircraft up on runway 30, push the throttle all the way forward and there we go, take-off! Time to test the flight model!
As I already wrote in my earlier review of the AeroSphere Piper PA28-161 Warrior II v2, please note that I only have real world experience in a C172. Hence I cannot really judge how “good” or “bad” the flight model of the vFlyteAir Cirrus SR20 really is. At this point it should be noted that version 2.5 of the SR20 features new custom airfoils, propeller and flight modeling by Alan Shafto of AeroSimGaming. Well, judging from my own personal experience Alan did a great job. The plane feels right and it behaves as I would expect it to behave. It certainly does not feel static or totally unrealistic to me. Correct me if I am wrong here but at least to me, the flight model is fine. I also like how the plane reacts to control inputs. It’s not too sensitive in that respect. All fine to me!
Alright, mid-flight is pretty boring. The scenery is nice, weather not so much. Time for some more screenshots:
Unfortunately, as we come closer to Portland, the weather gets worse. Lucky me, the vFlyteAir G1000 features a fully functional weather radar. Time to enter our STAR and approach. For this review we’re gonna use STAR TMBRS2 with MOXEE transition and (since the weather is really bad) we’re gonna try an ILS approach on runway 28R in Portland. Luckily our route does not lead us through thunderstorms but still a lot of rain hits our aircraft. Thanks to XPRealistic Pro I can almost feel the wind and rain. That’s why I love X-Plane!
As I align with my arrival runway I activate approach mode. The ILS kicks in and my Cirrus SR20 starts to descent. Seconds before I touch down I deactivate the autopilot and hand-fly this bird to the ground. The landing was actually not bad at all. And great fun! I want to point out again that I did not experience any issues with the G1000 or the autopilot. Neither in this flight nor in all the flights I did in preparation before.
One feature I did not cover thus far is the parachute. The vFlyteAir Cirrus SR20 is equipped with a fully functional emergency parachute in case something goes totally wrong mid-air. To my surprise that thing works. Slow down the aircraft, turn off the engine, pull the handle and glide safely to the ground. The moment you pull the handle is also accompanied by a nice animation inside the VC that actually gives the impression that a force is now pulling from above. Well done vFlyeAir!
I am pretty certain that you can already guess my verdict. The vFlyteAir Cirrus SR20 is a great product and I highly recommend it! Every aspect of this add-on is well crafted and the aircraft is fun to fly. Kudos to the developers! If you don’t own the vFlyteAir Cirrus SR20 yet, it is available for $29.95 directly on vFlyteAir’s website or your vendor of choice.
Terrain Radar Addendum
The vFlyteAir Cirrus SR20 now features a topography and terrain radar on its MFD moving map. You only need this TerrainRadar plug-in and vFlyteAir’s compatibility patch. If both are installed, you can use the MAP softkey on the MFD to toggle topography and terrain display. I just tried this and it works nicely, as you can see in the screenshot above. No performance loss whatsoever. See the original announcement here.