Starting to Get Frustrated?

by HPA · April 3, 2013

Hot Starting the Cirrus SR22T & SR22TN

by Hank Gibson, Gold Seal CFI, CFII, MEI, AGI, CSIP, CFAI+, Master CFI

Cirrus SR22 Wingspan

How many of you Cirrus Turbo pilots have been in this situation? You’ve found the cheapest fuel in a 40 mile radius of your home airport. It’s been a long flight back from your family vacation with several delays due to IMC conditions and some pop up thunderstorms. The family is exhausted and just wants to be home, but you want to fill up the airplane at a reasonable price.

The credit card reader gives you problems, but you are finally able to get it to take your credit card. Then, the hose isn’t long enough to reach both wings, so you get you wake your sons up to help you tug the airplane around. Finally, you get the plane filled up with gas, you hop in to start it, and it won’t start because the engine is still too hot. You crank and crank (no more than 20 seconds at a time and allowing a 20 second cool down period, of course) to no avail.

Now, you just want to scream. Don’t you wish you read this article first?

The Problem

When you shut down your Turbocharged or Turbonormalized Continental Engine in your Cirrus SR22T or SR22TN, especially on a hot day, the fuel lines inside the cowling are heat soaked. Because they are so hot, when a restart is attempted, the fuel get’s vaporized once it get’s into the fuel lines under the cowling. Since the fuel is no longer in it’s liquid form and it’s now a vapor, when attempting to start the engine, all the cylinders are getting is that vapor and no actual fuel.

Cirrus Turbo Engine

What usually happens is when a regular starting procedure is followed, you’ll see a “false start.” There is still a little bit of fuel in the injection lines that lead to the injector nozzles. When cranking initially, that little bit of fuel get’s injected into the cylinders and the engine fires momentarily, then quickly dies because there is no liquid fuel being pumped in by the engine driven fuel pump, only fuel vapor. Therefore, the engine is actually starved of fuel since all the fuel is in vapor form in the fuel lines.

The Solution

Straight from Continental’s own publication, Tips on Engine Care, here’s the solution to the problem. I’ll get into why it works shortly. Here’s the procedure.

  • Mixture control-Full lean/cut-off
  • Throttle-Full open
  • Electric fuel pump-High Boost/Prime for 20 seconds
  • Electric fuel pump-Off
  • Mixture control-Full rich
  • Throttle-Cracked
  • Starter-Engage

If you didn’t run the fuel pump for long enough, you may get a false start again. It may also take longer then normal for the engine to actually fire. Here’s a little tip: the first time the engine fires, keep cranking and add a little throttle to prevent it from dying. This will help the engine fully fire instead of just false starting. If you notice this consistently, try running the High Boost/Prime setting on the fuel pump for a little bit longer. That should remedy the problem (also remember the starter limit is 20 seconds with a 20 second rest in between). Once the engine fires, turn the boost pump on.

Why It Works

What’s happening when you run the electric fuel pump on high with the mixture at idle/cut-off and the throttle full? Fuel is being sent from the selected fuel tank, to the engine driven fuel pump. Since the engine isn’t running, from there, it goes through the engine driven pump bypass valve, then to the metering section of the injector pump, then to the metering control unit.

Since the mixture control is in the idle/cut-off position, the fuel is directed to the fuel return line system and returns to the tank it originated from. You will still see a fuel flow indication on the fuel flow gauge, but no fuel is actually entering the cylinders at this point. All that is happening is you are filling up the fuel lines under the cowling with liquid fuel, pushing the vapor out.

When following this procedure, there is no need to prime the engine before cranking. A little bit of fuel will seep past the closed mixture control and into the cylinders, so there will be fuel in the cylinders to ignite.

Try It Yourself

The next time you are trying to hot start your Cirrus SR22T or SR22 Turbonormalized, try this procedure. It’ll work like a charm.

Reference: Tips on Engine Care, copyright 2010, Continental Motors, Inc.

How it Started

One of my best friends in high school, (Doug Gray) was a private pilot. He offered to take me up for a flight in a 1967 Cessna 150, N6228S. We took off from Calhoun, Georgia, and he took me on a scenic tour of the area, I was hooked. I later found out that my English teacher, (Jan Haluska) was also a flight instructor and the school was offering a ground school course the next year, which he taught, along with flight training with the goal of becoming a private pilot. I managed to talk my dad into funding the training, at the time the total cost was right around $500. Cessna 150 rental rates where $12 an hour, and the 172 we used for cross country was $15 an hour including fuel.

Training Begins

It started August of 1977. The fall semester rolls around, and I am enrolled in ground school, and if memory serves me, we met twice a week. First came the paperwork for my student pilot certificate, which at the time was included with the 3rd class medical. I loved ground school, especially learning navigation, plotting courses on the sectional, again this was before iPads and GPS, so we did a lot of dead reckoning and VOR navigation for cross countries. At the end of the course, I made an 83% on the Private Pilot written exam, remember this was before we had the question-and-answer books that on future test I would consume before taking a written.

2022.06.09 11.19 Flyhpa 62a27fea7716a


The fun really began on August 22, 1977, it was my first flight. To my surprise we used the same Cessna 150, N6228S that my friend Doug Gray had taken me for a ride in. The Cessna 150 had a standard VFR instrument panel, with one NAV/COM, and one VOR CDI. No intercom, so no headset, at the time I didn’t know what I was missing. I didn’t get my first headset until I started my instrument training in 2003. I was a big guy, I was 6’ 4” and weighed 245 lbs. but I do not remember being uncomfortable in the 150 even with the instructor in the right seat.

First flight lasted .8 hours, and we accomplished orentation, shallow turns, stability, and effects of flight controls. Over the next few months we added steep 720’s, slow flight, stalls, turns around a point, S-turns, emergencies, landings, (short field, soft field and normal).


At this point I want to talk about a training experience that still stands out. We were close to solo and were practicing takeoffs and landings. Turning base to final Jan got very upset at the way I was cross controlling the aircraft. Cross control is when you are in, say a left turn, and use opposite rudder to line the nose up with the runway. So, he had me depart the pattern and head east to the practice area, and climbing up to 5500 feet MSL, he had me slow down to just above stalling speed, start a left shallow turn and add right rudder. As the airplane stalled I had the strangest sensation, no roller coaster has ever come close, instead of blue sky in the windscreen I was looking at brown ground, and as far as I could tell we were upside down, through the terror of the moment Jan talked me out of the spin, controls neutral, oposite rudder, pull slowly out of the dive. As we leveled off he asked me what altitude we were at, as I remember it was around 2,800 feet MSL. Then he asked me what would happen if I experenced this on base to final in the traffic pattern. The answer was obvious, I would be a pile of wreckage off the end of the runway with a very short-lived aviation career. Needless to say this cured my cross-control tendencies.

Another training event the sticks out in my mind was the first time we did takeoffs and landings at the High School runway. The runway was 1,500 feet long, not sure of the width, but it seems like we had about 5 feet on each side of the wheels when on the center line of the runway. Landing from the south you also had to go between a cutout in the trees to be able to stop in time on the runway. After getting confortable landing here every runway since seemed huge. I remember landing at Chattanooga (KCHA) on a night cross country and commenting to Jan, that I felt like I could of landed sideways on the runway, it felt that large.

Very soon after this I started wearing old shirts to all my flight lessons, the reason for this occurred on February 8, 1978. The lesson that day was stalls, takeoffs and Landing. As we were taxing back in Jan told me it was time for my first solo. I was very excited, and after some last minute advice from Jan, including watch for floating on landing the plane will be light with him not in the right seat, complete 3 takeoffs and landings to a full stop. It was a blast, and at the end of my shirt was shorter in the back because Jan cut the tail out of it signed and dated my solo [an aviation tradition]. Total flight time accumulated on the day of my solo was 18.1 hours. I was now officially a pilot with solo priveleges.

In my next article I start cross country training, when Jan decided that it would be best accomplished this in the 172. Checking out in N5970R was like moving into a 747, this started a love affair with one of my faviriote planes to date. Since this time I have flown over 900 hours in many different models of the 172 and feel like I am stepping into an old friend every time.

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