DA40 vs. Cirrus SR20

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startingovercfi
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Re: DA40 vs. Cirrus SR20

Post by startingovercfi »

I am probably a pretty good person to answer this question as I have a lot of experience in both.
For background I am a CSIP (Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot), and also own 3 Diamonds used in flight training, and have trained students in new and used aircraft of both.

When the time came to buy an new aircraft, I had to decide whether to continue with Diamond, or switch to Cirrus.

For me, it was a no-brainer, Cirrus won hands down.
1) There are a lot of statistics thrown around, and I can tell you as a numbers guy most of them are garbage. The big point for me, is the accident statistics for Cirrus in the last several years are completely different than previously in part due to Cirrus’ focus on training, and also because the newer versions of the plane are so much safer (G5 and G6). The accident rates for both company’s planes are very similar now.
2) you really can’t compare accidents in general between an SR22 and a DA40. They are in completely different categories (SR22 vs DA42 is much fairer, and the comparisons are not so wonderful for Diamond then) . Comparisons to SR20 are fair. There are a lot of DA40s in flight schools at this point, and there are always few fatalities in flight training, so consider that as well. Again, mission changes those numbers more than anything. In the end, not as much difference as there was 10 years ago when Diamond was hands down better.
3) Safety aside, I agree with Dave, DA40 is more of a pilot’s airplane, and an SR is more of what I would say is a traveler’s airplane. They are more luxurious feeling, more comfortable, and more designed for being like a car, not for feeling exciting to fly. Just depends on what you want. Cirrus is more stable and easier to fly in turbulence and gusty conditions though, again that comfort thing.
4). In the end items 1-3 are mainly a wash for me. The overwhelming advantage to Cirrus is you are buying into a better company that understands that this business is customer driven. Diamond thinks if they make good airplanes they can treat their clients like crap. I am offended by the entire culture at Diamond. Cirrus believes you listen to your customer, and make them satisfied and you will sell more airplanes and make money. Cirrus delivers in so many ways that Diamond doesn’t. From the delivery of a Cirrus, which is an event in itself, to maintenance, to ongoing development, to support, to ability to upgrade, Cirrus is on a completely different level than Diamond. Just constantly getting software upgrades out under warranty itself is a huge difference.
5) Cirrus’ commitment to training and development is unmatched. Until you see the training that Cirrus provides for buying a new airplane (or even providing training for people buying used airplanes), the incredible resources they have developed in house for content to teach you about the plane, or the efforts to maintain a global professional standardized instruction, then you have no idea what you are missing. I kind of chuckled at the guy who didn’t like his Cirrus instructor and was teaching too many rules. That is kind of the point, they train pilots to fly the right way. 5-10 years ago, Cirrus pilots were a bad joke to me, now they are slowly becoming models of how to fly professionally as private pilots. Cirrus’ commitment to training is the reason.

Anyway, there is a reason Cirrus sold almost 400 SRs last year (not to mention another 85 or something jets), there is a reason they sell #1 by far every year for a decade and a half, and there is a reason used Cirrus’ are now becoming the most common exchanges in used personal sales (personal observation, I have no data). They deliver as a company, and as a company you can really trust. Diamond? I don’t know anyone who really trusts that company. They have screwed their owners in the past, and have done so again to the early Nxi adopters. No reason to expect anything different in the future.

I do think it is a shame because Diamonds are a pleasure to fly, but for me to continue to invest in a plane, I have to believe in the company, and I have nothing but disdain in the company after owning 4 Diamonds over the last 17 years. Until they realize that they are driving away business with their practices nothing will ever change (and even then, who knows? Corporate culture is very difficult to change.)
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Re: DA40 vs. Cirrus SR20

Post by Colin »

[printing to bring to meeting with DAI...]
Colin Summers, PP Multi-Engine IFR, ~2,600hrs
colin@mightycheese.com
http://www.flyingsummers.com
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N971RD DA40 G1000 s/n 40.508 (traded)
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Re: DA40 vs. Cirrus SR20

Post by Lou »

One thing I have heard from my mechanic about SR-22’s is that they rarely get to 1000hrs without requiring a top overhaul, and that they often have cracked cylinders before that. I don’t know what the story is for SR-20s but he says the tight cowling is a problem for proper cooling. It’s true, Diamond learned it’s customer support skills from Audi, but the IO 360 in a Diamond, properly handled, will get to 2000Hrs TBO no problem.
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Re: DA40 vs. Cirrus SR20

Post by Boatguy »

Rich wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 12:01 am
Utah? Looks more like Massachusetts for the OP.
Oops, yes. I was looking at the top of page 2 and Paul in Ogden.

With that in mind the turbo is probably less important so maybe the SR20 gets the nod.
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Re: DA40 vs. Cirrus SR20

Post by Boatguy »

Rich wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 12:11 am
Confused. Oil changes = downtime? A couple of hours I can do myself and I pick up everything I need right here at the airport.
Yes. But not everyone wants to do their own oil changes and the rest of the 100hr Austro service.
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Re: DA40 vs. Cirrus SR20

Post by Boatguy »

Lou wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 3:08 am
It’s true, Diamond learned it’s customer support skills from Audi.
Oh. You mean I wasn't the only Audi owner who had to wait 18months to get an operational fuel gauge and turn indicator?
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Re: DA40 vs. Cirrus SR20

Post by Paul »

startingovercfi wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 12:56 am
I am probably a pretty good person to answer this question as I have a lot of experience in both.
For background I am a CSIP (Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot), and also own 3 Diamonds used in flight training, and have trained students in new and used aircraft of both.

Having owned both, I agree with everything in this post and is the best and most succinct comparison of the two companies I have read. Maybe my only nit is that Cirrus improved its safety record with a huge effort and undertaking in training. Diamond, as correctly pointed out, did nothing other than build a really safe and forgiving plane - no additional training required.

Cirrus enables a magnificent lifestyle for aviation enthusiasts. Diamond builds planes.
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Re: DA40 vs. Cirrus SR20

Post by TimS »

Lou wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 3:08 am
One thing I have heard from my mechanic about SR-22’s is that they rarely get to 1000hrs without requiring a top overhaul, and that they often have cracked cylinders before that. I don’t know what the story is for SR-20s but he says the tight cowling is a problem for proper cooling. It’s true, Diamond learned it’s customer support skills from Audi, but the IO 360 in a Diamond, properly handled, will get to 2000Hrs TBO no problem.
FYI; my information is from COPA, watching the used market, and talking to shops getting my plane serviced.
Among the SR22:
Tops overhauls are very common on after market TN planes around 800 to 1000 hours.
Among NA planes; top overhauls are very rare; often going past to TBO or pulled at owners decision.
The more recent factory Turbos have more of a mixed reputation.

For the SR20:
Top overhauls are very rare; often going past to TBO or pulled at owners decision.

Tim
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Re: DA40 vs. Cirrus SR20

Post by Ian Sage »

startingovercfi wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 12:56 am
I am probably a pretty good person to answer this question as I have a lot of experience in both. . .
For the most part I agree with everything startingovercfi had to say. Having developed, sold and supported STCs for both aircraft I have a fair amount of experience with both but from a slightly different perspective. Some of it is anecdotal, some is opinion, hopefully it will be of value in this conversation.

As far as safety goes I have only seen one big difference that has not already been mentioned. That is the difference in owner demographic. Having attended multiple Cirrus owner events and met many of them over the years I can say with confidence that the percentage of Cirrus owners with no previous flying experience prior to being a Cirrus owner is much higher than that of other aircraft. My experience with Diamond owners is that the average owner's previous flying experience is about the same as the rest of general aviation. Cirrus used this new owner/pilot statistic as part of their marketing in years past. This undoubtedly contributed to their accident numbers and I would be surprised if it was not a driving factor in their more recent training efforts. I can think of two incidents right off the top of my head that were pilot decisions to fly into icing. Anecdotal yes, but contributes to the accident record at no fault of the plane.

On the comfort side, if you are taller than 6' make sure you sit in every DA40 you consider purchasing with the canopy closed before you purchase it. I am not sure what the difference is (I assume seat changes) but I (6'2", mostly torso) can sit strait in some, and others there is no position where my spine is strait. 30-45 minutes into a flight and I am extremely uncomfortable. Beyond that it is painful. No problem with the seat or other ergonomics. It is entirely a problem of head room. Choose wisely in this regard. I have never had trouble staying comfortable in a Cirrus except for foot room when sitting in the back seat. Also of note, if you have a wife who likes to wear dresses or skirts, the center stick may be a non-starter for her.

Regarding maintenance, you can find a mechanic anywhere in the world who can work on Lycoming and Continental petrol engines. Even in the USA you will need to be at a larger field to find a maintenance facility to work on the newer diesels. If your mission frequently takes you to small rural airports or out of the country to say Mexico or the Caribbean the risk of extended downtime for maintenance is a consideration. One item in favor of the Cirrus is their network of certified service centers and the support they can provide beyond common engine items. The flip side of that while anecdotal, I find the Diamond airframe easier to access and work on beyond common engine items. Keeping in mind the newer pilot demographic of Cirrus owners on average, I find that owners of other aircraft are more willing to participate in their own maintenance. Participating in your aircraft's upkeep can go a long way towards avoiding bigger maintenance issues in the future. This is likely a factor in Cirrus maintenance issues when compared to the larger fleet of Continental engines. Just something to keep in mind when crunching the numbers.

Many have mentioned the disparity in company support and differing customer focus. My role in the aviation community being slightly different than most owners and as such we have had a slightly different experience. We did the Cirrus STC before starting the DA40 and the support we got from Cirrus was astonishing. They were so helpful at times it almost felt like we were employees. Technical data, direct access to their engineers, mechanics and trainers, visits to our facility to check progress and inform us of upcoming changes that would impact our product. We never dared hope for half the level of support and encouragement we got from the Cirrus ownership and staff. Diamond was also very helpful. We did not get direct phone numbers to call engineers and such like we did with Cirrus but they did visit, offer support and encouragement as our efforts progressed. They are the ones who got us a contact inside Garmin (no longer employed there) that made our G1000 software upgrade possible. While they did not roll the red carpet out for us the way Cirrus did we certainly have no complaints. For our part we are very happy with our interactions with Diamond.

In the end having lived with all three, I would rather have our Cessna 182 back than either a Cirrus or DA40. That decision based mainly on utility and simplicity of long term maintenance with a sprinkling of back seat comfort being better than any low wing alternative. It would simply fit my mission better at this time in my life. My $0.02.

Cheers,

Ian
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Re: DA40 vs. Cirrus SR20

Post by pietromarx »

Ian Sage wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 4:43 pm
On the comfort side, if you are taller than 6' make sure you sit in every DA40 you consider purchasing with the canopy closed before you purchase it. I am not sure what the difference is (I assume seat changes) but I (6'2", mostly torso) can sit strait in some, and others there is no position where my spine is strait. 30-45 minutes into a flight and I am extremely uncomfortable. Beyond that it is painful. No problem with the seat or other ergonomics. It is entirely a problem of head room. Choose wisely in this regard. I have never had trouble staying comfortable in a Cirrus except for foot room when sitting in the back seat. Also of note, if you have a wife who likes to wear dresses or skirts, the center stick may be a non-starter for her.
Small thing: there are two canopies for the DA-40. The newer one (from 2009?) has more headroom.

Ian Sage wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 4:43 pm
In the end having lived with all three, I would rather have our Cessna 182 back than either a Cirrus or DA40. That decision based mainly on utility and simplicity of long term maintenance with a sprinkling of back seat comfort being better than any low wing alternative. It would simply fit my mission better at this time in my life. My $0.02.
I'd take my Decathlon back tomorrow.
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