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How would you compare the Katmai/King Katmai/Kenai and the SR22?

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  • How would you compare the Katmai/King Katmai/Kenai and the SR22?

    On its face, this seems like an odd thing to ask. The two planes are designed for very different missions. The Cirrus SR22 (and SR20) are for fast, efficient long distance travel while the various versions of the Peterson 182 are best known for low speed maneuverability and short field capability that enable backcountry and off-pavement operations. It's sort of like comparing a luxury sports sedan with a fine 4WD SUV.

    And yet I get this question a lot, while in contrast I have been asked to compare the Katmai with a new Cessna 182T only once or twice. As it turns out, more than a few Peterson 182 owners have also owned and/or have significant flight time in Cirrus. For example, here on these forums Joe Rainey has owned an SR22, a Katmai and a King Katmai. J.J. Bely has an SR22 and Katmai. I have owned three Peterson 182’s and have about 100 hr each in rented SR20 and SR22. Dean Georgaris, one of this forum’s founders and a former 260se/stol owner, was also a Cirrus sales contract “position holder” in the early 2000’s. There are also a couple of Peterson 182/Cirrus drivers who are participants on the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association forums but do not contribute regularly here. Finally, I am contacted several times a year by pilots who are contemplating owning either a Cirrus or Katmai and would like my perspective.

    Why is this? While I’m sure the reasons are different for each pilot contemplating both planes, some common themes have emerged from conversations. The first is the perceived enhanced safety of both types compared to other high performance ASEL (see below). The second is that both planes are recognized for genuine innovation and unique (if rather different) value propositions in an otherwise quite staid general aviation market segment. In addition, the Katmai is surprisingly versatile and delivers quite credible performance and efficiency as a cross-country traveling machine (see below). And finally, not to put too fine a point on it, both aircraft are in the medium-to-high cost range among four-seat piston ASEL: a new fully optioned Katmai or King Katmai costs about the same as a new SR20 or a 3-4 year old SR22, while a “lovingly used” 260se/stol and > 9 year old SR22 can both be in the high $100K-low $200K range. Thus a buyer considering one of these types would also have the means to afford the other.

    Since the subject comes up fairly often I thought I’d share in a couple of posts some of my thoughts and invite others familiar with both types to chime in as well. For this I'll draw on nearly 1400 hr owning/flying 260se/stol and Katmai-260, 200 hr in Cirrus (SR20-G1 and SR22-G1 & G2) as well as many years of active participation in the Cirrus Owners & Pilots Association. About ten years ago (Yikes!!) I posted PIREPs of my early experiences learning to fly SR20 & SR22. And as a disclaimer I'll note that, personally, these are the only two types of piston ASEL I would want to own (close third: Grumman Tiger), and I am also an admirer of both companies.

    In these posts I'll use "Katmai" as a surrogate reference for the Peterson aircraft family, i.e., 260se/stol, 300se/stol or "Kenai," Katmai, King Katmai, and compare only to the normally aspirated SR22. The turbocharged versions--SR22TN & SR22T--are an even more different class of airplane.
    Kevin Moore
    Former 260se/stol Katmai with BRS owner; planeless for now

  • #2
    By far the most important safety feature of any airplane is the prudence, judgment, training, currency, familiarity-with-type, and if needed, skill of its pilot. That being said, even the best pilots occasionally experience lapses in one or more of these areas or have bad luck (e.g., equipment failure, birdstrike, midair collision), and an aircraft can "soften the edges" or mitigate the consequences of pilot lapses or misfortune based on its airframe design and other features.

    The Cirrus has a hybrid wing design (a feature shared with Columbia 300/350/400 & Corvalis TTx) with a cuff on the outboard section that enhances stall resistance and control surface authority at slow speeds or in incipient stalls. The 182P & Q also have a mildly cuffed wing but it is the canard that transforms the slow speed stability, handling & stall resistance of the Katmai.

    Cirrus & Avidyne pioneered large flat panel displays ("glass panels"), in particular the attitude indicator presentation, in piston ASEL and other manufacturers quickly followed suit, mostly with Garmin G1000. Competition is a wonderful thing! Those who have flown both "steam gauges" and "glass panels" I think will agree that loss of attitude control in IMC is less likely with the large AI presentation, and unusual attitude recovery is easier. Retrofit PFD & MFD glass panels such as G500 or Aspen can be installed in the Katmai. Likewise for the Katmai, large stand alone multifunction displays displaying georeferenced maps, approach charts, and XMWX overlays can be installed in panel docks (e.g. GPSMAP696, 796). And of course there's the iPad...

    The newer autopilots available in the SR22 (Garmin GFC700, Avidyne DFC90 & DFC100) have so-called "envelope protection" including a "Straight-and-Level" button for unusual attitude/disorientation/pilot overload recovery and an "indicated airspeed control" function. The "Straight-and-Level" button--while it has been the subject of some derision among old-school pilots--is in reality just a slightly enhanced version of the "ST" mode in STEC30 (& -50 I think) and "ROL" mode in King autopilots. In contrast IAS control is a new thing in piston ASEL autopilots and it can prevent autopilot-induced stalls that have been known to happen in "vertical speed" mode during prolonged climbs or downdraft encounters: as the autopilot strives to maintain the commanded rate of climb while aircraft performance wanes, airspeed decreases and a stall can catch the inattentive pilot unawares, causing a very bad day. The DFC90 is also now STC'd for Cessna 182 equipped with Aspen PFD as I understand it.

    Cirrus seat belts are modern and incorporate airbags. The very effective BAS seat belts can be installed on the Katmai; front seat airbags are available as a somewhat costly retrofit from AmSafe.

    And then there's the airframe parachute from BRS, or "CAPS"--Cirrus Airframe Parachute System. Still controversial among many pilots nearly 15 years after its introduction in Cirrus, its track record of injury-free (most) or minor/serious injury deployments is quite impressive: as of March 2014 there have been 43 deployments in Cirrus with 87 survivors (9 serious injuries, 7 minor injuries, 67 uninjured) and but 1 fatality. There has also been one Katmai deployment at very low altitude (<400 ft agl) after takeoff that resulted in an injury from which the pilot completely recovered. BRS is available as an aftermarket item for Peterson 182's (I had one in my Katmai), bundled with Tom Storli's MGTOW increase STC, although so far not too many Peterson customers elect the BRS option.

    Structure: A Katmai is usually based on a 1972-1980 Cessna 182P or 182Q airframe (aluminum). The SR22 is mostly fiberglass composite (except for aluminum control surfaces); in addition crashworthiness concerns were taken into account during the airframe design. While the fiberglass composite is certainly stronger/more robust than aluminum, it may not "crumple"--thereby absorbing some of the impact energy--in the same way as metal. I am not at all an expert in this area so will not say anything further. Interestingly, birdstrikes on the Cirrus airframe, while messy, have typically resulted in little or no structural damage and required relatively minor repairs. An aluminum wing or fuselage component in similar circumstances will likely suffer considerably more damage with possible compromised controllability.

    Icing protection: A weeping wing "TKS" system can be retrofitted to the C182 (and Katmai) but it's not certified for flight into known icing conditions ("FIKI"). Many older SR22 also have a non-FIKI TKS system. Newer G3 and G5 SR22 can be equipped with FIKI icing protection although it is not retrofittable so far as I know. Of course, the best defense against icing is not to go there in the first place.

    Takeoff and landing safety: Like many other high performance, high stall speed singles, the SR22 (Vso 59 or 60 KIAS depending on model) has experienced a fair number of takeoff/landing/go-around loss-of-control accidents or incidents. I do not know the numbers, but I have not heard of any such accidents or incidents in Peterson-modified 182s. There's a lot more (close to 4X) energy to dissipate at 60-65 kt than at 31-35 kt, and furthermore at the lower speed there's more time to regain control before you smash into something! I would give the edge to the Katmai in this area.

    In my experience both planes have excellent crosswind landing manners.

    Emergency & off-airport landings: see next post below.

    My own take: the Katmai (and other Peterson 182 variants) and Cirrus are the two safest high performance ASEL available, with design features and equipment that can mitigate the consequences of pilot lapses or bad luck to a greater degree than anything else in this class, but achieve their safety goals in different ways.
    Kevin Moore
    Former 260se/stol Katmai with BRS owner; planeless for now


    • #3
      Runway requirements: The Katmai/King Katmai use about 1/3 of the runway required for takeoff (300-350 ft) compared to the SR22 (~1000 ft). As Todd has illustrated in videos and demo flights, considerable maneuverability is available right after liftoff in the Katmai. While this is not true of the SR22, on the other hand neither the Cirrus nor any other competing design (Bonanza, TTx, Mooney, 210, Saratoga) was ever intended to be operated in that manner. In the hands of a competent pilot the Katmai requires about 1/4 to 1/5 of the landing rollout of the SR22.

      Climb: The comparably powered (300-310 hp) King Katmai and SR22 have similar best rates of climb, about ~1500 fpm fully loaded and can approach 2000 fpm at medium-lighter weights. However both the King Katmai and 260 hp Katmai have steeper climb gradients than the SR22 due to the lower Vy speeds: 70-75 KIAS for the Katmai vs. ~101 KIAS for the SR22.

      Cruise & range: Here the sleek, modern SR22 really shines, as it is designed to do, in both speed and efficiency. Top speed, full throttle, rich of peak (ROP) is 180-185 KTAS but at an eye-watering 18-20 gph, so hardly anyone ever operates the plane that way. Most owners run "wide open throttle, lean of peak" (LOP), achieving 168-174 KTAS on 12-15 gph depending on cruise altitude. This is even better efficiency than the Bonanza A36 which has retractable gear! With 81 gal usable (G1 & G2) the SR22 has about a 4.5 hr + 1 hr reserve endurance LOP, while G3 and G5 SR22 have ~92 gal usable and just under 5.5 hr + 1 hr reserve.
      The C182 is of course a considerably more "draggy" airframe than the Cirrus. The Katmai-260 in its most efficient configuration (standard gear + speed kit) cruises 148-152 KTAS at a ROP cruise fuel flow of 13-16 gph depending on altitude, while LOP cruise is 140-145 KTAS at 11-13 gph. Here it's worth pointing out that in the LOP regime the Katmai-260 and SR22 have about the same nautical miles per gallon efficiency. Endurance with 74 gal usable is just a bit over 5 hr + 1 hr reserve; with 88 gal usable (some 182Q airframes) add another hour and change. The 300 hp King Katmai in similar configuration turns in 155-160 KTAS ROP (who runs that way?) and 150 or a bit more KTAS LOP at 12-15 gph, while endurance times are ~45 min less than the Katmai-260 due to the higher fuel consumption. Thus the Katmai is a surprisingly competent traveling airplane, certainly a lot faster and more efficient than the stock 182, and comparable in speed and range to an SR20 although using 30% (Katmai-260) or 50% (King Katmai) more fuel.

      Approach and landing: Vno in the Katmai is 139-141 KIAS depending on base airframe while for the SR22 it's 178 KIAS. In the Katmai I find that 18-19" mp and 500 fpm descent rate gives 135+ KIAS and a reasonable forward speed, covering about 5 miles per 1000 ft altitude descent in still air. With its nearly 40 kt greater Vno, SR22 descents at 500 fpm near Vno need to be started at a greater distance from the destination, at least 6 miles for each 1000 ft to descend.
      SR22 pattern speeds are typical for a high performance single: 100-110 KIAS downwind, 90 KIAS on base with 50% flaps, 80 KIAS with full flaps on longish final, and 77 KIAS less 1 kt for each 100 lb under MGTOW on short final before roundout & flare. Touchdown in a yoke full aft, stall horn chirping landing is 60 or a bit more KIAS. If you mind your speeds correctly, it is really easy to get greaser, butterfly-with-sore-feet landings in the Cirrus--it is the sweetest landing airplane among the planes I've flown--but if you're more than a couple kt too fast the plane will float considerably, very similar to Mooneys in that regard. Even at very light weights, short final speeds below 70 KIAS are not recommended due to potential loss of elevator effectiveness and pitch authority.
      Katmai landing techniques have been discussed extensively elsewhere in these forums so I won't recap them here. Typical short final "over the fence" speeds are 50-55 KIAS while max performance landings can be accomplished at 45-50, carrying a little power (perhaps 13-14" mp) to enhance the canard's effectiveness. Todd recommends ~20 deg flaps rather than full flaps unless unusual conditions warrant full flaps.

      Power off, best glide: Vglide in the SR22 with aluminum prop is listed at 88 KIAS but this has been met with some skepticism by owners/pilots and empirical testing has shown that 100-110 KIAS is probably more appropriate. 88 KIAS is likely closer to the maximum endurance or "minimum sink" speed. The glide ratio is pretty good--9:1 or 10:1-- but the descent rate will be 900 fpm so things happen fast. Importantly, the optional Hartzell composite prop, while lighter, presents much more frontal area at idle and acts as an excellent speed brake, reducing glide ratio to something like 8:1.
      Vglide in the Katmai is 65-70 KIAS with a more leisurely descent rate of 600-700 fpm and a glide ratio of 10:1 or 11:1. Todd recommends power-off approach speed on short final of ~60 KIAS because the canard is less effective without a little engine power.

      Emergency, off-airport landings: This borders on a religious subject in some discussions. The SR22 is primarily a traveling airplane, designed for cruise speed, efficiency and comfort. It is heavy and has small tires with streamlined wheelpants. With Vso at 59-60 KIAS it meets the ASEL stall speed criteria for certification, but you will still be touching down at 70+ mph in a landing area with uncertain or hidden imperfections--chuckholes, stumps, rocks, ditches, soft soil. Additionally, wires or other obstacles may not make themselves visible until it is too late to avoid them. It has a low wing, with fuel only 2-3 feet off the ground. In view of all this, the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association and more recently Cirrus itself recommend that, unless an airport landing is assured, CAPS should be deployed in preference to an off-airport landing on a surface of unknown quality. The CAPS safety record cited above supports this recommendation in my view.
      In contrast, the Katmai will likely touch down at 45 mph or less, with only 1/3 or 1/4 of the kinetic energy to dissipate in the rollout or crash. It has a high wing that is less likely to snag obstacles such as sign posts or fence posts, and the fuel is more like 6 feet above the ground. Especially with the large tire options, surface imperfections are not as much of a threat as for the SR22. Of course, the Katmai pilot's only choice may be an off-airport landing, except for some of us who have the BRS option available.

      In my view the Cirrus is an outstanding choice for fast, comfortable, efficient long distance travel from one paved runway to another. The Katmai, while not as fast or efficient, is still an excellent traveler, outstanding performer and offers greater versatility.
      Kevin Moore
      Former 260se/stol Katmai with BRS owner; planeless for now


      • #4
        Other aspects

        Passenger comfort
        The Cirrus has a wide (49" IIRC) cabin and very comfortable seating. The front seats slide both forward and upward to accomodate those of us who are vertically challenged--I never had to use a seat cushion in the Cirrus while I do in some Cessnas. G5 SR22 are certified for a third rear seat passenger but it would be pretty tight back there for three people unless they were little kids. The Katmai cabin is not as wide but the updated seat cushioning in fully refurbished aircraft is in my opinion just as comfortable. Cabin access is a small step down from the wing in the SR22 while it's a step or two up from the ground in Cessnas.

        Visibility, especially forward visibility, is peerless in the Cirrus with its low panel brow, approached in my experience only by the Grumman Tiger (I haven't flown a DA-40 which is reported to be excellent as well). Surprisingly the narrow-ish low wing (higher aspect ratio than older low-wing designs) seemingly impedes visibility hardly at all. The high panel brow in the Katmai is less accommodating of shorter passengers' forward visibility but visibility to the side and down is very good.

        The SR22 has a higher wing loading which results in a somewhat smoother ride in turbulence.

        With the 3100 lb MGTOW STC mentioned above, lightly or moderately optioned Katmais with long range fuel (74 gal usable) can have useful loads of over 1300 lb and full fuel payloads exceeding 800 lb. Even with BRS and a decent menu of options, my own Katmai had a full fuel payload right at 700 lb. SR22 G1, G2 and G3 were more payload-challenged. The earlier G1 & G2 aircraft could have full-fuel payloads near or slightly under 600 lb, while later more heavily optioned G2 & G3 models could top out at 500 lb or less, necessitating some compromises on fuel load and range. The G5 has a 200 lb MGTOW increase--a remarkable engineering achievement, by the way--almost all of which accrues to cabin payload so it's more comparable to the Katmai in this respect.

        Maintenance and Support
        The Katmai is a Cessna; virtually any A&P knows Cessnas and, like the 172 and 206 (but unlike some models such as 177, 210) parts are readily available if increasingly expensive. The Petersons have been great in my experience about supporting the canard and the very few other unique aspects of their planes that are not standard Cessna. The SR22 is supported by a network of Service Centers and parts availability does not seem to be a problem these days.

        As many of you know, much of the insurance premium cost is driven by hull value. Katmai coverage costs about the same as a 182 of similar hull value. In recent years Cirrus insurance rates have become comparable to other aircraft in its class such as Mooney, Cessna/Columbia, Bonanza.

        There have been nearly 4000 SR22 delivered by Cirrus, and like most other types, about 10% of them are on the used market at any given time. Moreover, Cirrus has constantly innovated and improved their product in a way Cessna, Piper and Beechcraft never have. Thus used SR22 tend to depreciate somewhat rapidly in the first few years, then more slowly. Current SR22 prices on the used market suggest about 40-50% depreciation from original purchase price for 9-10 year old models, perhaps 15-20% of that occurring in the first one or two years.

        In contrast, the Katmai occupies a niche market that I characterize as "small, but intense." Most pilots don't want or don't need what it has to offer, but those that do want it, really want it. Since certification of the 260se/stol in 1986 the Petersons have produced about 500 230se/stol, 260se/stol, Katmai and King Katmai aircraft. There are few on the market at any given time: sometimes none, usually 2-5, rarely or never as many as 10. Each airplane is equipped in a unique way. In other words, it's hard to establish a "market value" for used Peterson 182 because there are so few of them available and there are no standard equipment levels. Thus each sale is mostly an "agreed-upon-transaction-between-consenting-adults." Regarding my own experiences owning and selling three of these planes: I made money on my first one (2000-2002), took about 7% depreciation on the second one (2002-2004), and more recently in the bad economy about 5% annual depreciation during the time I owned the third one. Your mileage may vary of course.

        So that's about all I have to say about this comparison. The bottom line is that the best plane for you is the one that (a) meets 80-90% of your mission requirements, (b) you can afford to fly and (c) puts a big smile on your face each time you fly it.
        Kevin Moore
        Former 260se/stol Katmai with BRS owner; planeless for now


        • #5
          That's about the best analysis I have seen of these airplanes. Both I think are great airplanes suited for somewhat different missions. Excellent posts.


          • #6
            Hi Kevin,

            Very comprehensive revue indeed. My aircraft is not efficient as yours both ROP or LOP by about 5 % but we are not far. As usual it depends on your mission, If you do relatively short hops 200/300 NM the Cessna offers a lot in terms of payload, choice of airfield and comfort. If you intend to go far says 600-1000 nm, the Cirrus is a much better platform. If you add headwinds to the mix, you know the reply...

            As much as I like my Katmai, it's also more fun to fly than the Cirrus on short low trips, I think the Cirrus is probably more bang for your bucks if your flying is not mainly local and you need the STOL performance.

            Speed is king for pilots but even more for passengers who are happy to be on the ground after 2 or 2.5 hours max. I recently did a flying trip in Western Australia that took 18 hours of Cirrus time ! I don't think I could have done it with the 182.

            After ordering my new mount (TBM 900) to be delivered in May, I could have kept either the Cirrus or the 182. I chose to keep the Katmai because I really like the low and slow capabilities of the aircraft and it's somehow unique.