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Deciding which plane you want to buy requires extensive research to learn as much as you can. Learn everything about the Cirrus SR20 in this complete guide.

No matter if this is your first plane purchase or just one of many, you want to know as much as you possibly can about an airplane before spending all that money, right? Of course, you do! An airplane purchase is one of the biggest purchases you could ever make in your life. So let’s learn all about the Cirrus SR20 so you can decide if it’s right for you.

You can buy a Cirrus SR20 for $580,000 to $750,000+ new or about $180,000 to $700,000+ used. Its 215-horsepower Lycoming engine enables you to fly at 178 mph at maximum cruising speed and burns roughly 11 gallons of 100LL AvGas per hour under maximum power output.

As part of our effort to create the most comprehensive site on the web for pilots and aviation enthusiasts, we're putting together a series of articles that goes into the details of various specific aircraft. In this article, you'll learn everything you want to know about the Cirrus SR20. From a general overview to the nitty-gritty details about the airplane, we'll touch on it all.

SkyTough is a site that people made just like you: aviation enthusiasts and pilots who are passionate about flying and who want to share their knowledge and experience with like-minded people. For topics like these, we combine research with input from others and even manufacturer’s specifications to ensure that you’re getting nothing but the most accurate content on the web.

Table of contents


Cirrus SR20 Overview

Before we get into any of the specifications or other details about the Cirrus SR20, let's look at a quick overview of the plane as a whole. The Cirrus SR20 is a single-engine, low-wing general aviation airplane. It's a four-seater (or a five-seater in some instances) that was first introduced in 1995 with its first official year of production in 1999. The SR20 is designed for personal and business use and it is still being produced today.

The types of people that might consider buying a Cirrus SR20 are those who want a reliable and safe airplane that is also relatively fast and efficient. The Cirrus SR20 has a good reputation in the aviation community and it's known for being easy to fly. It's definitely an all-around good plane and it's suitable for a variety of different uses. However, it's typically too expensive for your everyday pilots that are just looking for a plane of their own.

Now that we have a general idea of what the Cirrus SR20 is, let's look at some of the specific details and specifications that set it apart from other planes.

Cirrus SR20 Specs

Since the Cirrus SR20 has been in production since 1999, there are many different years and models out there. Consequently, there are different specs depending on which specific model you're looking at. Since it's still being produced today, let's look at the specs for the newest SR20 since it's the most up-to-date model on the company's website.

  • Engine: Lycoming IO-390-C3B6
  • Engine HP: 215
  • Climb Rate: 781 ft/min
  • Max Operating Altitude: 17,500 ft
  • Max Cruise Speed: 178 mph
  • Stall Speed: 65 mph
  • Takeoff Distance: 1,685 ft
  • Landing Distance: 853 ft
  • Base Weight: 2,122 lbs
  • Useful Load: 1,028 lbs
  • Cabin Payload: 774 lbs
  • Wingspan: 38'-4"
  • Length: 26'
  • Height: 8'-11"
  • Cabin Width: 49"
  • Cabin Height: 50"

How Much Does a Cirrus SR20 Cost?

Whether you're someone who wants to buy a Cirrus SR20 for yourself or you're a business looking for a new plane,  the cost is always an important consideration. The price of a Cirrus SR20 can range anywhere from $300,000 to over $700,000 depending on the model, year, and specific details of the plane.

Of course, the purchase price is only part of the story when it comes to owning an airplane. There are also the ongoing costs of things like fuel, insurance, hangar rental (if you don't have your own), and maintenance. So let's take a deeper look at all of the costs that are part of buying and flying a Cirrus SR20.

Cost to Buy a Cirrus SR20

Since the Cirrus SR20 has been in production since 1999 and is still being produced today, you'll have the option to buy a new plane or a used plane. As you certainly know, both options have pros and cons.

With a used plane, you'll be able to get it for a lower price, but there could be unknown issues that come up down the road. With a new plane, you'll pay more upfront, but you'll have peace of mind knowing that everything is new and under warranty.

So, how much does a Cirrus SR20 cost?

The price of a new Cirrus directly from the manufacturer starts at $524,600 for the base version. From there, you can start adding on all sorts of additional options and features that will set your SR20 apart and be the plane of your dreams. This includes things such as air conditioning, digital dashboards with multiple screens, remote keyless entry, ambient lighting, and more. These things can jet the cost to well over $700,000 or more.

If that price point is a little high for what you're looking to pay, then buying a used Cirrus SR20 can be a much more economical choice. According to listings on Trade-A-Plane, used Cirrus SR20s can be found from about $180,000 to $750,000 or more. This includes planes that are anywhere from 1 to 20+ years old and all sorts of features and options.

So if you're in the market for a Cirrus SR20, the first thing you have to do is decide what your budget is. But I will say not to consider only your budget. After all, when you're making an investment of this size you want to make sure you're getting the exact plane that you want.

Cost to Maintain a Cirrus SR20

So now you know what to expect to pay for the purchase price of a Cirrus SR20, but what about the ongoing costs of ownership? Many people, especially if they're buying their first plane, tend to forget about these costs. But they're very important to consider because they can have a big impact on your budget each year.

The two biggest categories of ongoing costs for owning an airplane of any kind can be broken down into the fixed costs and the variable costs of airplane ownership. We have an in-depth article on that concept that I just linked to, so we won't spend time really detailing what the actual costs include. Instead, let's just get an idea of what these typical costs will run you for a Cirrus SR20.

If you have to finance your Cirrus SR20, then your interest payments will be one of your fixed costs. But even if you pay cash for the plane outright, there are still going to be some significant fixed costs that you'll need to account for each year.

These include things like insurance, hangar rental (if you don't have your own), and the annual inspection required by the FAA. For a Cirrus SR20, these costs (including financing costs) can easily add up to $15,000 - $20,000 or more per year.

Of course, the biggest cost of regularly using and flying your airplane is going to be fuel. The Cirrus SR20 has a max range of about 920 miles and burns roughly 11 gallons of fuel (100LL) per hour at its max cruising speed and standard operating altitude. With the price of 100LL ranging from $3.30 to $10/gallon, you're looking at around $35 - $100+ per hour just in fuel costs. We'll talk about the fuel more in detail later on, don't you worry!

Other than fuel, you'll also need to have regular oil changes, maintenance and repairs, landing fees, and cleaning. These are variable costs that can really fluctuate based on how often you fly and what kind of condition your plane is in.

But to give you a rough idea, according to Aircraft Cost Calculator, when you combine both the fixed and variable costs, you're looking at an average of about $72,900 per year in variable costs. This is based on 450 hours of flight time and an average fuel cost of $7.25 per gallon.

So when you combine the fixed and variable costs of owning and flying an SR20, you're looking at about $85,000 to $100,000 per year or so. That's certainly no small amount of money! But the majority of that is first and foremost in the cost of fuel, with financing (interest) costs being the second biggest factor. So if you pay cash and rarely fly, your costs will be much lower. But who wants to have a Cirrus SR20 and not spend time in the air?

How Fast Does a Cirrus SR20 Fly?

Now that you know what a Cirrus SR20 is and what it'll cost you to buy and fly one, let's get into the fun stuff! After all, anyone who drops a few hundred thousand dollars (or more) on a new plane certainly wants to know about the performance they can expect to get out of it.

Just how fast does this thing fly?

The Cirrus SR20 is powered by a single Lycoming IO-390 engine that produces 215 horsepower. Based on the information provided by Cirrus Aircraft itself (and as seen in the specs above), the SR20 has a max cruising speed of about 178 mph, which is equivalent to 155 KTAS. Now when you compare it to how fast many other airplanes fly, that might not seem all that fast.

But the SR20 isn't designed just to be a fast airplane. It's designed to be a safe and efficient personal and business travel solution that can get you where you need to go without breaking the bank. It's a beautiful plane that gets you from point A to point B quickly, comfortably, and safely.

The other published speed from Cirrus Aircraft for the SR20 is the stall speed, which is about 65 mph (or 57 KCAS). This is the speed at which the wings cease to generate lift and the plane begins to descend. We have other articles that talk more about what stall speed is and what it means, so we won't bore you with those details here!

For now, just know that the Cirrus SR20 is a fast airplane relative to other single-engine planes in its class. It's not going to win any speed records, but it doesn't need to. It's designed for those who want a safe, efficient, and affordable way to travel by air.

How High Does a Cirrus SR20 Fly?

Speed might be the most common aspect of performance that people are curious about, but it's not the only one. Many people also want to know how high an airplane can fly. After all, if you're going to be spending a lot of time in the air, you might as well be up where the air is nice and smooth, right?

The SR20 has a service ceiling of 17,500 feet. This is the max altitude that the plane is designed to operate at and still maintain structural integrity. The airplane can actually fly higher than this, but it's not recommended (and in some cases, it might not be legal).

At 17,500 feet, the air is nice and smooth for the most part. Even though we haven't quite reached the stratosphere at this altitude,  the air is thin enough that turbulence is not nearly as common as it is at lower altitudes. This makes for a much more pleasant flying experience, plus you won't have to worry about commercial traffic since commercial planes fly much higher than this.

What Engine Does a Cirrus SR20 Have?

We've talked about some of the performance aspects of the Cirrus SR20, but we haven't really talked about what makes those performance numbers possible. The answer to that is, of course, the engine!

The SR20 is powered by a single Lycoming IO-390 engine that produces 215 horsepower. This particular engine is designed specifically for light aircraft like the SR20. It's a four-cylinder, horizontally opposed engine that is air-cooled and has a displacement of 389 cubic inches.

Cirrus SR20 Fuel Burn Rate

The IO-390 engine is a reliable engine that is known for its relatively low fuel consumption and low operating costs. Just like how when you go new car shopping, one of the important things you look at is the fuel efficiency (or how many miles per gallon it gets), when you're looking at planes, one of the important things to look at is the fuel burn rate.

The fuel burn rate is the amount of fuel that the plane consumes in an hour. This will vary as you're flying depending on how fast you're flying and how much power you're trying to get out of the engine. The rate will vary slightly depending on the year and model of Cirrus SR20 (because it might have a different engine), but we'll stay consistent with what we've been looking at in this article.

For the Cirrus SR20 and the Lycoming IO-390 engine, the fuel burn rate is about 11 gallons per hour at 100% power output. This might seem like a lot, but it's actually quite good for a single-engine plane. If you fly at only 50% power, you can expect the fuel burn rate to be only about 8 gallons per hour.

This is such an important thing to know about an airplane because as we outlined above, fuel burn is the single biggest operating expense for an airplane. Knowing how much fuel an airplane uses will help you estimate your operating costs so that you can budget accordingly. But to really know what it will cost you, you need to know what kind of fuel it uses.

What Kind of Fuel Does a Cirrus SR20 Use?

Even though an airplane engine is similar in size and output to many car engines, they actually use a completely different kind of fuel, one that you likely wouldn't want to put into your car. Cars typically use gasoline (with some vehicles running on diesel fuel of course), while airplanes use aviation fuel.

Bigger airplanes, like commercial jets, run on some sort of kerosene-based fuel that burns incredibly hot. But for smaller personal aircraft like the SR20, the fuel is actually much more similar to gasoline, though not quite the same. The Cirrus SR20, like most similar aircraft, runs on 100LL AvGas.

AvGas is short for aviation gasoline and it's a high-octane fuel that is specifically designed for aircraft engines. It has a lower flashpoint than regular gasoline, meaning that it's easier to ignite, which is important for an engine that has spark plugs igniting the fuel mixture.

It also has a higher octane rating than regular gasoline, which means that it can withstand higher compression ratios without detonating. This is important because airplane engines typically have fairly high compression ratios (although it's only 8.9:1 for the Cirrus SR20), and if you tried to use regular gasoline in one of these engines, it would likely cause engine damage.

With current 100LL AvGas prices around $7.50 per gallon nationwide and the burn rate we just talked about above, you can get a fairly accurate idea of what it costs to fly your Cirrus SR20. If you're flying at max power and burning ~11 gallons of AvGas per hour, it's going to cost you a bit over $82 per hour to fly it. Fuel prices constantly change, so just multiply the price in your area by the amount of fuel burned per hour and you'll have your answer.

Is the Cirrus SR20 a Good Plane?

Phew, at this point you should just about be an expert on everything there is to know about the Cirrus SR20. But we still haven't answered the most important question: Is it a good plane?

Well, that depends on what you're looking for and what your flying needs are. The Cirrus SR20 is excellent for personal and business use, especially if you're flying shorter distances. It's incredibly safe, relatively fuel efficient, and flies fast & high enough to get you where you need to go without any problems.

However, it is a bit on the expensive side when it comes to both the purchase price and the operating costs. So if you're looking for a cheap plane to just tool around in, the Cirrus SR20 is probably not going to be the best choice.

But if you're looking for a high-quality, reliable, and safe personal or business aircraft, the Cirrus SR20 should definitely be at the top of your list.

Who Should Buy a Cirrus SR20?

Now that we've gone over everything there is to know about the Cirrus SR20, it's time to answer the question of who should buy one. And as we just talked about in the last section, the Cirrus SR20 is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a personal or business aircraft.

If you're a student pilot or a new pilot, the Cirrus SR20 is also a great choice as it's incredibly safe and easy to fly. And if you're an experienced pilot looking for a fast & efficient plane to get around in, the Cirrus SR20 should definitely be on your radar.

That said, its price point will likely put it out of reach for most private pilots that just want to have a plane of their own. So if you want to buy a plane that's as cheap as possible to own and operate, check out our complete guide on the cheapest planes to buy and fly. Sadly, the Cirrus SR20 did not make the cut!

So there you have it, everything you need to know about the Cirrus SR20. We hope you found this article helpful and that it's inspired you to go out and buy your own Cirrus SR20 if that's what you want to do. If you're just an avid enthusiast like myself, I hope you've enjoyed deep diving into this amazing plane and have even more appreciation for it than you had before!