You just bought your Cirrus SR22. You do some flying, and soon find yourself with a brake temp sticker that isn’t white anymore. You remember from your transition training that any color other than white is a no go. You now ponder…. I don’t remember getting on the brakes hard, or riding the brakes while taxiing, but sure enough they aren’t white anymore. You now start thinking that all the horrible rumors of Cirrus brakes are true. They overheat so fast!
I would like to share some little-known facts about the Cirrus factory equipped braking system. Following the procedures below can help make the brakes last a little longer. There is also a very popular STC that allows upgraded brakes to be installed on all SR series aircraft. More to come on that.
Above is a photograph of an SR22 G1 braking system with turned brake temp stickers. The first things you may notice is that there are in fact two brake temperature stickers. We can only see the bottom blue sticker from the inspection port on the wheel pants. The other is higher on the caliper; in order to see it, the wheel pant must be removed. This isn’t common knowledge because there is no mention of this additional indicator in the POH.
Now you may be asking yourself, what can I do to extend the service life of my factory equipped Cirrus brakes? Here are some tips. First, always taxi at 1000 RPM and use the rudder as much as you can while only tapping the brakes. This is not fool proof, since sometimes, depending on the grade, you will have no choice but to utilize brake tapping to keep the aircraft going straight. Taxiing is not typically where the brakes get overheated, though, but this is still a good practice to follow.
What we tend to see is that the Cleveland brakes are generally overheated on landing. We always recommend to make sure your final approach speed is not excessive, land in the first 1/3 of the runway, and let the aircraft rollout to a smooth stop. What tends to happen is that the aircraft is too fast, and the pilot tries to exit at a certain taxi way, or brakes hard and continues to ride the brakes after landing during taxi. If you do your best to avoid these habits, it will serve you well.
This braking system remained unchanged all the way until the 2016 G5 Cirrus SR series. Starting in 2016, the factory equipped G5 and G6 Cirrus SR series all now come standard with a single piston hydraulic braking system from Beringer. The Cirrus Beringer brakes far exceed the braking power and durability of the old system. The new system is more robust, withstands heat better, and is is very well built. There is also an option for an upgraded dual caliper system to increase durability and stopping power. A braking system STC for the older Cirrus G1 through early G5 models was created to upgrade those airplanes to the better stopping power and cooling of the Cirrus Beringer brakes.
One other difference for a pilot to note is that once upgraded to the Cirrus Beringer brakes, there is only one temperature indicator and it changes color at a whopping 450 Degrees Fahrenheit! Needless to say, it can handle some heat! The new temperature indicator is now Orange in color and turns grey/black when overheated.
The Cirrus Beringer brakes upgrade is quite a step up in the world of slowing down. However, this doesn’t mean that they are completely issue free. There is one little-known problem with Beringer brakes that is not that big of a deal and can be fixed with relative ease.
The rotor on the Beringer braking systems is “free floating,” meaning it is not necessarily “fixed” in position when secured down to the spindle. It is “keyed” into the wheel rim with the male and female side interlocking.
The brakes occasionally will get noisy, causing a “knocking” noise when brakes are applied. This noise is caused by the small metal tabs that tighten up the space between the wheel and the brake rotor. This is so the small tabs wear with use instead of the aluminum rim that they are fixed to. So, if your Beringers are making a knocking noise when brakes applied, this is most likely your culprit.
It is highly recommended to upgrade your original Cirrus factory brakes to the new Beringer braking system. You will deal with less maintenance, less chance of a brake overheat, and less confusion on whether or not your brakes are airworthy. For more info, you can check out the Cirrus website for the single or dual caliper Beringer brakes.
Zach Anderson is a Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot (CSIP) for Texas Top Aviation. Zach comes from a auto mechanic background and is very familiar with the ins and outs of maintenance. He started working for Texas Top Aviation in December 2020.