CSIP Training

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Matt Gabbard, CFI, CFII, CSIP, Ferry Pilot

Matt has been flying for over two decades and has extensive knowledge of different aircraft and avionics, he is a talented photographer and enjoys traveling, history and astronomy. 

Quote to live by: "Whatever you are, be a good one." ~ Abraham Lincoln


CSIP Training

When AirMart offered me the opportunity to become a Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot (CSIP), I jumped at the chance. I am relatively new to Cirrus aircraft and have really enjoyed getting to know them over the last few years.

Spending a week immersed in the world of Cirrus under the instruction of knowledgeable instructors was an invitation I could not turn down.

Although the process took a while to come to fruition, it is finally finished, and I look forward to helping people enjoy flying the Cirrus as much as I now do.

The CSIP course consisted of ground and flight training at the Cirrus Vison Center at the McGhee-Tyson Airport (TYS) in Knoxville, TN. What my instructor wanted to see was that I could teach the aircraft and its systems to those who are either new to it or are needing recurrent training. I arrived in Knoxville the evening before so I could acquaint myself with the area.

The Cirrus facilities are all located on the field at TYS, but they are somewhat divided. The delivery and maintenance hangars are adjacent to the taxiways and runways.

The building where the Cirrus pilot shop, simulator, offices and learning rooms are, however, is a short car ride away. I was glad I took the time to get oriented.

Central to any Cirrus flight instruction course is the Flight Operations Manual, or FOM. This document provides standardized information concerning everything from airspeeds to flow memorization items to configurations across all the SR models – everything one would need to know to fly an SR20, SR22, SR22TN or SR22T the way Cirrus wants its pilots to fly them.

According to the Cirrus website, “CSIPs have been personally trained and evaluated by the training specialists at Cirrus headquarters and follow the same training programs that Cirrus uses during factory flight instruction.”

This means leaning heavily on the FOM, Cirrus training syllabi, and methods of instruction. My task for the week-long training at TYS was to learn how to assimilate myself into the Cirrus philosophy and learn how to pass on that knowledge to new Cirrus pilots.

For the flight training to occur, I needed to have an airplane. This was no problem for AirMart. One of our corporate planes is a 2010 Cirrus SR22TN.  

It is nicely equipped with the Garmin Perspective avionics suite, which Cirrus is using in all its new airplanes. A huge part of the CSIP training is teaching the Perspective system and using it to your and your client’s advantage. Since I was already familiar with the system, this wasn’t much of a challenge.

What was a bit more difficult was remembering some of the differences across the makes and models and their associated airspeeds. Thankfully, the FOM (and iFOM, the interactive version on my iPad) has it all spelled out.

I spent the week alternating between ground lessons (teaching systems, CAPS, traffic patterns, emergencies, etc.) and flight segments (where I would teach my instructor, Justin, instrument procedures, traffic patterns, etc.). Justin and I would spend time in my very own learning room, equipped with a white board and computer, where the ground portion was completed. This is also where I took the end-of-week knowledge exam.

Down the hall, the SR22 simulator and hot benches provide excellent platforms for pilots to hone their skills.

The real value of the simulator, which is an exact mock-up of the SR22 cockpit, is being able go through the scenarios which dictate when to pull the CAPS handle.

For obvious reasons, there is not a practical way to practice pulling the parachute on an aircraft in service. Being able to pull it in the sim was a perfect way to feel what would be like to do so. The sim had three large LED monitors with accurate controls and avionics. It was about as close as you can get a real-world scenario without ruining a perfectly good airplane.

The hot bench showcased three functioning avionics suites: Perspective, Perspective+ (found in the G6 line of Cirrus) and Perspective Touch (found in the Vision Jet). Not being as familiar with Perspective+, I was excited to learn about some of the differences between the two systems.

One of the unexpected highlights of the week was the food. Cirrus caters a delicious lunch for CSIP candidates and clients who are picking up their new SR20, SR22 or Vision Jet.

The Cirrus level of hospitality and attention to detail made the entire experience that much more memorable.

I also must mention how impressive the maintenance hangar personnel and line guys were.

The ramp space at TYS is currently somewhat limited, which makes it necessary to use the space efficiently. That’s exactly what the line personnel did each time we taxied in after a flight. Without fail, they checked on our fuel status, and asked when we might be flying again.

They even accommodated the AirMart SR22 for hangar space when storms threatened one night. During the training week I had a minor avionics and RPM sensor issue. The Cirrus maintenance and avionics team handled both professionally and expertly.

When new owners come to TYS to take delivery of their aircraft, Cirrus drives them to the delivery hangar, taking them directly into it through a large sliding door.

Once inside, the customer’s beautiful new airplane greets them bathed in LED lights, staged strikingly in the middle of a spotless showroom floor.  

One morning, the Cirrus staff arranged for me to experience one of these “deliveries” with AirMart’s SR22. It was quite a treat.

The culmination of the week consisted of the written test, an oral evaluation, and a flight test. After the written test, I sat down with one of the senior flight instructors and verbally “taught” him about the Tornado Alley turbo-normalized system in our airplane and compared it with the new TSIO-550-K engine in the SR22T.

Once satisfied, the check pilot explained what he was looking for in the flight portion of the test. All that was required was my adherence to the FOM, my legality regarding the FARs, and overall safety.

In other words, if he had to take the controls at any time due to an oversight of any of these factors, I would fail the test. Within those requirements, I had the freedom to choose which maneuvers and approaches to teach.

I chose to teach some VFR maneuvers (I did slow flight and steep turns), a non-precision approach and a precision approach. One of the approaches was performed with the PFD failed.

As a testament to the CSIP program and my incredible instructor, I passed my “checkride” successfully. I am inspired and excited to impart this knowledge to others and I have a new level of appreciation for the Cirrus line of aircraft and the passionate professionals who make up the Cirrus team.