Dick’s blog: is any airplane “safe?”

When the Ercoupe came out in the 1940s, everybody thought it would set a new standard for both simple flying and safety. It was stall-resistant and spin-proof and the controls were interconnected. There were no rudder pedals, just a wheel and throttle to use in controlling the airplane.

When the dust settled, the Ercoupe had a worse safety record than contemporary two-place airplanes. This had little to do with the airplane and a lot to do with the pilots, who thought they couldn’t hurt themselves in one of those.

Cirrus SR22
Is it the plane or the pilot?

Small twins had the same problem and when Cirrus announced that it would have an airframe parachute on its SR-20/22 airplanes, I wondered if history would repeat itself.

When examining fatal accident rates per 100,000 hours for various certified airplanes, few stand out as being far removed from the record for all light airplanes. The Cessna P210 and the Piper Malibu/Mirage types have notably bad records or at least they did when the airplanes were being flown a lot. The Cessna 172 and 182 have always had notably good records.

Many thought the Cirrus would have a good record. The SR-20 does but the SR-22 does not. There have been a number of parachute “saves” and if you consider that those would have been added to the fatal accident column if the chute were not there, then the SR-22 in particular has an unfortunate accident history.

Why do you think this is true? Is it because of the personality of the pilots who are attracted to the much more powerful SR-22? Does the presence of the chute lead pilots to attempt things with the airplane that they wouldn’t try without the chute? Is there a mind-set that you can’t hurt yourself in the airplane? Is it because the Cirrus was never spin-tested with the FAA allowing the chute to be the only spin-recovery mode? Or is it something else?

You have the floor.

49 Comments

  • As an Ercoupe driver I can atest to the pilot factor. You need to be aware of the flight abilities of the aircraft. Even the coupe can bite you,if too slow or too high in the flair. Drops out of the sky like a rock. It’s the pilot not the plane

    • I am by no means a seasoned veteran…just a student pilot. But I can tell you that I had the opportunity to fly a 1947 Ercoupe. What a dream of a machine! It was restored to pristine condition (with a modern panel upgrade). It sliced through the air with the greatest of ease. The pilot landed it almost 3-points (seemingly little flare) like a feather. I’ll gladly take whatever opportunity i may have again to ‘fly the coupe’!

    • There is no airplane that won’t Stall or Spin, period!
      Pilot’s “Stick & Rudder Skills” are at an all time low and no technology of any kind can replace good basic Pilot Stick & Rudder skills. There has been many airplanes that had bad reputations but yet flown very successfully by skilled Pilots. The Ercoupe is a perfect example of a simple airplane that crashes because of a unskilled Pilot that thinks there is an easy way out to flying an airplane.

      • That’s not true. Aerodynamically, the Ercoupe does not have enough control authority to stall. It certainly doesn’t have the control authority to stall “to the break.”

        I don’t think that a “Pilot that thinks there is an easy way out” by not learning to fly properly explains the safety records – but I’m not sure what does.

        Suggest this excellent article by Richard Harris:
        http://home.iwichita.com/rh1/eddy/Safe_Airplane_NOT.htm

    • I agree with your statement. I have owned two Ercoupes
      and had an engine failure at 700 ft. Had it not been for a superior instructor that constanly trained cutting power back to idle for landing and instilling skills in me to treat every landing as an emergency
      I would be dead right now. Aircraft are only as safe as
      the mechanic and manufactuer make it, the rest is up
      to the pilot and nature. Great Comment.

      Keith Jackson

  • It seems to me as though the Cirrus is suffering from the same bad rap the Bonanza series did in the ’50s and ’60s. At 31, I wasn’t old enough to be there, but “forked-tailed doctor killer” is a pretty prevalent phrase with regard to Bonanzas in that era.

    Could it be that size and expense are tied to ego and a sense of invulnerability? That’s difficult to prove, but it makes sense. We feel safe in these “big, heavy” airplanes, or those equipped like a “get out of jail free” card like a BRS, and maybe we do get ourselves into pickles beyond our abilities.

    I try to emphasize for my students the the airplane is only as safe as the pilot, and I really believe that. I regularly fly a wide range of GA aircraft, from Cubs on up, and I try to practice what I preach in terms of being intentional about remaining proficient in each type and respecting the limitations of each. I know complacency can hurt myself or my students, even in the “docile” 150.

    Safety doesn’t come from an airplane, it comes from an attitude. That’s my humble take on the issue, anwyay.

    • Safe is a relative term, remember that most people die in the safest place we think of, the bed.
      Clearly some planes are safer than others, in the military the F-104 was known as the widow maker, just like the Navy’s F-8. These were planes that were unforgiving and could kill any pilot. Likewise, a Cessna 182 is somewhat safer than a Cirrus 22; it’s more forgiving in a stall, in landing and doesn’t need a parachute because it has passed the FAA spin certification. That said, the big difference is, as some have pointed out, the type of person who flies the C 182 v. the SR-22. Perhaps the marketing is geared to that, to the detriment of the uninitiated. Last but not least, too many of our new pilots are “magenta line” pilots who rely on their sophisticated avionics to fly the plane and never really understood and practiced basic airmanship.

  • I think you hit on a few valid points here. However, I’m not sure if the presence of a parachute would necessarily make me comfortable enough to take more chances. It’s like my iPad: it has made my job as a pilot easier and more enjoyable, but it cannot replace my training, knowledge or the good old paper chart. At the end of the day, the rules still apply when my battery runs out. I think this issue probably has more to do with the type of pilots who buy these planes. Are there any hard numbers on the correlation between flight experience and accidents in higher performance aircraft? The SR-22 is not a cheap airplane. Is it the case that more and more of these aircraft are being sold to pilots with more pages in their checkbooks than in their logbooks? How much training are these pilots receiving in the transition phase to a higher performance planes? I think the image of modern aircraft is that of simplicity. What could look more benign than two large screens replacing a panel full of gauges and knobs? The truth is that it took me quite a while to transition to glass, and I’m still not used to all of the quirks and features. Simplicity may be the name of the game, but the truth is that aircraft are more complicated than ever before. Couple a new avionics suite with the new handling characteristics of an unfamiliar aircraft, compounded by a 185 KIAS cruise speed… and suddenly you are 10 steps behind the airplane, which is never a good place to be. With great power comes great responsibility. The truth is this: if you can afford an SR-22 or similar aircraft, you should spend the money and time needed to get comfortable in the plane. Slow it down until you get used to things, and there will be plenty of time to push those levers up to 75% power later on. Be smart.

    • Hello Mike.
      I think you are right on your coment. It is matter of training and gettin familiar with the airplane. Here in Mexico you can see some people that can affort a SR22 but with 45 fly hours in their logs. Despite i have never ear about an SR22 accident here.
      Best regards from México.

    • I fully agree that transitioning from a 172 to a high performance aircraft is not the easiest thing to do and when this is done by a lowtime pilot going to a glass cockpit there is even more distractions. As a flight instructor I recently started a student instrument training with the glass cockpit and found myself more involved learning than teaching. This being the case definately, in my opinion, show the need for more training into a high performance aircraft with the glass cockpit for low time pilots.

      • A few months ago I did my CSU endorsement in the Sportstar MAX. I had flown the Sportstar PLUS for some time. I knew how the plane generally handled but as you know every plane is different. This MAX has a parachute and glass but I never remove the safety pin for the chute, because there would be no need to use it. I have about 8 hours on it now and I am still getting use to the glass, but I prefer the analog in the PLUS. I find myself staring at the glass sometimes which I hate. I only have a bit over 100 hours TT. The chute (and the glass for that matter) has never changed the way I fly, even if I removed the pin.

  • There is not now, nor has there been in the past, nor will there be in the future, an airplane that a pilot can’t crash. We are our own worst enemy. Flying by the seat of our pants and taking stupid risks to save a few seconds of Hoobs/tach time. It is clear that the standards for the pilot are too low and that a shift in the paradigm needs to occur before the next advance in safety can truly be reached.

  • flight training is a constant ongoing thing. you can never have too much safety training. I personally think it has to do with complacency.people get too comfortable with a situation.then they forget things because they are rusty. even if you have a parachute, you should always fly like you don’t have one.with gps,and modern avionics, you should still practice flying without them. It keeps you from becoming complacent. and if your electronics die on you, what are you going to do? you need to use a compass, and landmarks with a map every now, and then. 9 times out of 10 it is usually human error, whether it be a driver,pilot,boater,forklift/crane operator or mechanic. a vehicle is only as safe as the person operating, or repairing it.

  • Daniel is absolutely right! This question is not one of the vehicle being used. Each operator must know his or her limitations in skill and training, the limitations of the vehicle and the environment and conditions under which the operation is taking place. When man or woman meets ANY machine, I believe it’s mostly about risk management once the motor skills are learned and knowledge areas developed; aside from keeping the knowledge and skills sharp. Once we can teach students early on to identify the hazards of flight and to manage those risks appropriately, only then, in my opinion, have we have taken the first steps in developing a culture of risk management early on that will follow them throughout their hopefully long flying careers. And let’s not forget about those with a fresh or not so fresh ticket in hand. We need to adopt this practice, too.

  • I’m surprised that no one mentioned the Helio Courier. When Dr. Otto Koppen set out to design this he intended to build the ultimate safe airplane. It is stall-proof and spin-proof to a point, what is interesting about these is you have control to next-to-nothing airspeed. The Helio will bite you too and if you fly it like a Helio you’ll find it can be a handful. No other airplane has a safety record like this airplane and the facts are there, statistically. Your chances of survival are greatly increased with the airplane due to it’s NASCAR style roll-cage in the cabin. Fly the Helio like a 172 and things will get quite interesting.

  • The Helio was built in such small numbers that it is not possible to get a comparable accident rate for the airplane. It is a demanding airplane and, as you say, it must be flown like a Helio.

  • It is not the equipment, it is how you use it. I decided already that when I convert to a twin I am adding 6 hours of cross country and I want to do full engine failure on a certified sim as well because the change is so big. I have seen so many guys, as long as they can pass the requirements they think they are safe. But the required info covers 10% of what is needed. Pilots should never stop reading and learning, but most do, and it is their own decision.

  • The Cirrus has no spin certification because it has a BRS? I didn’t know that. I do know that BRS is not certified over a specific speed. Would it even work in a spin? Has it been tried?

    I am not a high time pilot, but from everything I have studied, and I constantly read and keep up with everything aviation, the higher performance aircraft like SR22’s, Bonanza’s and small twins provide speed and altitude that would likely increase the number of accidents simply because of the ability to get into situations that the slower and lower aircraft do not. But I would agree that there are plenty of pilots who have big egos and bigger wallets that are their worst enemy’s.

    One last point here: Are BRS systems left out of aircraft because the manufacturer believes it gives pilots a false sense of security and can actually lead to encouraging less training and departure practice? e.g. Vans Aircraft

  • As a former owner/operator of an Ercoupe I can say that the day I had to sell it is still one of the worst ever for me. The plane was easy for me to fly, easy to maintain (to a point), and I enjoyed being able to fly it with the windows down so very much.

    I agree that it is almost always the pilot and not the airplane that causes most accidents. While my ‘coupe was all that and a bag of chips, you certainly didn’t want to get too slow on approach or put it in a situation that would require one to recover it with little altitude. It didn’t have a BRS system, but I owned a plane that did. I always flew both having read the operator’s manual and getting dual training before striking out on my own with either.

    Over the years I’ve read many accident reports, mostly fatal, that very experienced pilots had been involved in. These accidents were often the result of these seasoned veterans doing something that almost any reasonable, experienced pilot would never do if he or she wanted to survive the flight. I started thinking that if they could do it, what would keep me from getting killed with the low experience I have in flying?

    Finally my fear and finances drove me out of the sky. And I must admit here that I do miss it so. Having had to retire on disability made counting every dollar mandatory, and flying out to the practice area and just staying within forty miles or so of my home airport couldn’t justify the money it was costing me. It was boring. But I couldn’t bring myself into planning and executing a flight to somewhere new or different. Wow! Don’t know where all that came from, but there it is. BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!

    Professor Ed 1%er
    KJVY

  • A couple years back I witnessed a Cirrus accident in which 3 people were lost. The pilot was a successful responsible woman with nearly 900 hours in her logbook. She had very recently completed an instrument proficiency check (within a week or so of the mishap). The accident was ultimately the result of an unsuccessful landing attempt followed by an even less successful go around attempt. The aircraft porpoised down the runway starting around midfield before lifting off again at an extreme pitch angle. There was evidence of a prop strike or two (aircraft debris and prop scoring on the runway). The plane shot almost straight up – made it 200 feet or so then slowed down for what seemed to be an eternity then entered a stall spin followed by a nearly vertical decent to the ground. A surprisingly large explosion and smoke plume followed. According to the official report the plane’s flaps were down full and not retracted to 50% as the POH states for a go around. Witnessing an aircraft accident as it happens is most surreal. It’s kind of like when you have a bad morning & go to open the cupboard and things start falling out of it. Maybe something hits the blender and turns it on, you try to catch something and instead deflect it into the dish rack and it breaks a glass, then something falls on your head. Then it’s all over and you are looking at an enormous mess. Now imagine trying to fight reflex and instinct while trying to make logical decisions and taking decisive action while all those things are falling around you. That’s what the accident sequence felt like. You’re surprised a bit and everything happens fast. The pilot appeared to have fallen a bit behind the complex aircraft upon or before entering the pattern. A landing was continued where in retrospect it should have been scrapped. What I’d like to point out is that once things started to go south and past the point of no return controlling a comples high performance aircraft becomes extremely difficult. There was just so little room between the prop and the ground that a strike was almost inevitable and when full power was applied with full flaps the plane bucked like a bronco shooting almost straight up. Likely there were enormous stick forces at play making the aircraft extremely difficult to control. Once it went bad, it would have required a real pro who flys all the time to finesse this out of control beast back to safety. It behaved much more dramatically and forcefully than the 172 I fly in go around situations. There was a very small margin for error. My thoughts on a high performance aircraft like this with respect to the average Joe/Jane GA pilot is that these aircraft require more flying time and currency than most of us have. In this type of aircraft, you’re in a tiny box with respect to the safety margins particularly when you’re close to the ground, you really need to be at the top of your game. Most of us don’t fly enough to achieve this level of mastery. Something like a 172 or 152 (or in a similarly basic aircraft) gives the casual flyer a greater safety margin when in tight spots whereas in a high performance aircraft that margin is reduced quite substantially along with the time needed to react. To use a simple analogy, pairing the average GA pilot (who flys on the occasional weekend) with a super high performance aircraft would be like putting a casual rider on a thoroughbred racing horse – would anyone try that? Likely not. The same consideration must go into choosing an aircraft to match your abilities.

  • What about the pure fact that humans in general, don’t think that these really bad things will ever really happen to them. Practicing for emergencies is just that…very much needed but does not hit home the fact that theses emergencies do happen and often with fatal results. We read about them, study the causes and try not to dwell on the reality that people were horribly mutilated and killed. If every pilot had to take a special safety class to review and thoroughly inspect actual aircraft accidents and what happens to human bodies in these crashes, it might bring some reality into what we are really doing. Look at real color photos of a dead family, father, wife, daughter and son in a GA accident. See the horrible truth behind one of these events and review the cause of the accident….”due to (simple) fuel mismanagement”. Maybe this will might make more people aware of the real dangers the we can and do face. These “awareness” classes should be mandatory and should be repeated periodically. ERAU taught new pilots using a class like this that was taught by a fighter pilot that crashed and burned but survived. He looked horrible himself and the crash photos that we had to look at and study I will never forget….even 28 years later! I’t didn’t make (most) us fear flying, just made us take our training very serious and actually changed our attitude toward flying.

  • There are already many observations about planes on here, here’s one about people and machinery in general. Even a hammer – something with no moving parts like an aircraft has – can be made to hit a thumb. That isn’t equipment malfunction; it’s human error.

    We humans are already made about as perfect as a Creator wants us to be, and haven’t improved much in a 100,000 years. So, we have to perform carefully if we want to perform for very long.

    Most things we do in life are inherently dangerous to some degree. We can make flying safer, or dangerous. It’s a thousand little choices that add up to one conclusion.

  • ALL GOOD POINTS
    BOTTOM LINE HUMANS ARE DESIGNED TO GO AT MOST
    18 TO 20 MPH ALL THINGS THAT CARRY US TO A GREATER SPEED THAN THIS ARE POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS
    AS THE HAPPY OWNER OF A C150 ABOUT THE SAFEST AIRCRAFT EVER MADE THERE IS NO GETTING PAST THIS BASIC FACT THAT ANY THING GREATER THAN 21MPH EXCEEDS
    THE HUMAN OPERATING HANDBOOK.

  • I can attest that as a former Cirrus Pilot I did took more risk because I thought the Chute will save me in case I made a boo-boo…..man was I stupid to think that way.
    Now that I have more hours I know better, so, yes it does lure you in a dark corner like flying in LOW IMC, tropical depressions, light ice etc. All very stupid things.
    Now I fly a Lancair 4p, that doesn’t have those tricks up their sleeve, so I plan better….and personally I think I also fly safer (which is a huge contradict if you compare those 2 planes)

  • I own 2 Ercoupe’s and one Cherokee; most of my time is in C-150’s and C-172’s. I think most people learn in Cessna’s or Pipers. Cessna’s are very forgiving; Pipers too but not as much. The Ercoupe will bite you if you try to land it like a Cessna; otherwise it’s easy to fly. I think what you are seeing in Cirrus is a combination of arrogance, more money then sense; lack of enough experience to fly an advanced plane with too many bells and whistles and lastly a false sense of security/capability. It’s all well and good to have a plane that can do everything as long as you have a pilot that knows how to operate everything in the plane; efficiently. Can anybody say John Kennedy Jr.?

  • Thanks for the online magazine,,,I read every article and found them very helpsul and totally agreed with almost everything….we all needed to be reminded of our limitation…..Pilot since 1960…..I have flown into cituations where I should not have been and came out safely by the Grace of God….Roy

  • I learned to fly in Switzerland (Bueckers) and, when changing to a US license, the examiner asked for a spiral, I misunderstood and started a spin in a PA-28 That aeroplane, I think, it’s extremely forgiving, it was my first tricycle ride and the examiner was quite pleased with the recovery. A spin test should be required on any aeroplane to be considered “safe” and the pilot’s abilities add to the safety factor.

  • It’s the type of customers that are attracted to the Cirrus, and the way they are cultivated marketing-wise by the company.

    I have taught in all manner of aircraft. Piston singles and twins, helicopters, turboprops, light jets, mid-size jets, super-midsize jets. At one time I also taught in the Cirrus.

    I recall that the Cirrus clients were always a unique bunch. An abnormally large subset were not pilots by nature, but rather business owners who had an ulterior motive to flying — namely, extremely efficient point-to-point transportation.

    Sure, there are some very conscientious and safety-minded Cirrus owners out there. Maybe many. Some are true hobbyists, always striving to learn more about aviation. They think about flying when they’re not.

    But the others — the “travelers” — don’t. Maintaining the skill is a simple and sometimes tedious requirement. Some genuinely enjoy it, but don’t “love” it the way most of us love GA.

    The Cirrus is the first airplane which I think genuinely appealed to this curious market segment, with capabilities in terms of speed and range, safety (the parachute! They all love the parachute) and an interior appointed more similarly to a high-end automobile than an airplane.

    It’s a bad merge with predictable results. It’s a higher level of capability than they can handle, even with the automation, and as soon as anything goes even slightly south, they tend to skid right out of their narrow comfort zone and lose control of the situation.

    In a nutshell, I’ve always thought that the Cirrus was a basically good airplane marketed to inherently “weak” pilots. The accident reports seem to bear this out.

    Professionally flown Cirri seem to have little to no issues. These owner-pilots who are not truly “all in” should consider the expense of a professional pilot to be money well-spent.

  • I am a 300 hr plus Cirrus SR-22 pilot. I fit just about every stereotype described in the previous blogs – big wallet, need to get someplace fast, take risks in life, a Cirrus owner/pilot. I’m fortunate to have the privilege of flying the Cirrus. It is a beautiful comfortable plane. I also have about a 100 hours in a 150 and a 172 – the planes I learned to fly in. As far as I can tell, I had to fly those planes the same as I fly the Cirrus. The theme of a number of blogs above seems to be that somehow the plane contributed to a fatal accident – I am not familiar with an instance of a single Cirrus structural failure that resulted in a fatality. The circumstances of accidents resulting in fatalities that have occured in a Cirrus seem to be similar to the circumstances contributing to fatalities that have occured in other make and model airplanes. It is an assumption that Cirrus pilots take more risks because of designed safety features – something like believing that people drive more recklessly because they have an airbag in the car. Poor piloting and decision making is not the result of the airplane. At the end of the day, a good pilot in a 172 will be a good pilot in a SR-22. I would encourage anyone able to experience the comfort and safety of the Cirrus.

  • HI
    ALL GREAT COMMENTS. I SIMPLY MEANT THAT WHEN WE CLIMB INTO OR ONTO ANY MECHANICAL DEVISE THAT MOVES US AT SPEEDS GREATER THAN OUR NATURAL DESIGN WE TAKE A RISK.
    I HAVE BEEN FLYING FOR ONLY A COUPLE OF YEARS BUT I HAVE BEEN RIDING MOTOR CYCLES FOR OVER 3O YEARS AND NOTHING TEACHES YOU ABOUT RISK AND POTETIAL DANGER THAN RIDING I RIDE WHAT PEOPLE LIKE TO CALL RICE ROCKETS THAT CAN GO OVER 180MPH BUT IT’S COMMON SENSE
    AND PRACTICED SKILLS THAT KEEP YOU SAFE. BUT IT ONLY TAKES ONE DRUNK DRIVER, DEER OR ANY NUMBER OF THINGS TO TAKE YOUR LIFE. AS FOR FLYING MY FIRST INSTRUCTOR TAUGHT ME THAT ALTITUDE CREATES OPTIONS AND I ALWAYS FLY MY 150 AS HIGH AS I CAN (NOT ALWAYS EASY TO DO)
    BUT AS I’M CRUSING ABOVE 7500 AGL IT ALWAYS SUPRISES ME THAT EVERY ONE IS WAY DOWN BELOW ME. DON’T DENY IT I SEE YOU GUYS DOWN THERE.
    WE NEED TO MAKE GOOD CHOICES AND PLAN WELL
    TO KEEP THE RISKS TO A MINIMUM

  • Just as a weapon is not inherently dangerous ( it is the shooter who makes it so), NO aircraft is inherently “safe”. Note too that there is a spinner at both the front end of the aircraft and one inside the pilot’s head! Most often it is the brain spinner that shuts down first. Finally, to those who envisage a future of air-cars in every garage “safely” traversing the heights, remember that when the wheels of our trucks stop whirling we can get out and walk – not so when that wing stalls or spinner stops!

  • First off, I fly professionally in Challengers, earned a Gold Seal CFI in 1977 and still have it. Unfortunately, I seldom fly in small aircraft any more. That being said, the same referenced above is showing up in corporate, 121 and 135 operations. The problem is that many pilots are relying on the new technology and not utilizing the basics of “needle, ball and airspeed.” Are they being taught the basics, does not appear to be so in opinion. “Lets just teach them to pass the check ride, not be an aviator.” (not a real quote, just my take).Look at the Colgan accident, the basics were missed. You suffer a stall, one lowers the nose to reduce the angle of attack, produce more lift and resume flying. That pilot, an ATP under 121 had no clue. He kept on pulling back and the aircraft remained in a stall, crashed and killed all aboard.

    The Air France crash off Brazil was another example of a complete lack of basic flying skills or knowledge. According to the released information, the two “copilots” continued to pull back on the control stick (no wheel in an Airbus) and remained in a stall all the way to the surface.

    My recommendation is to have all checkrides done with with multiple instruments inop (or covered up) to see if the individual has the basic skills of airmanship, then a follow up portion utilizing the new technology.

    Bart Gault

  • Mr. Collins may I suggest you pose a question about glass? Has it improved or hampered safety? I and may of my fellow aviators would no doubt like to pontificate on this topic.

  • Practice Practice Practice makes for far fewer accidents. Those people with the fat checkbooks usually think they don’t have time to practice and they end up augered in someplace because their big heavy super fast airplane got ahead of them and ran away. The bigger and faster you go the sharper you need to be to stay ahead of the airplane because once it departs it is a lot harder to bring back. It takes a lot more skill to get out of trouble in those airplanes than the old easy 172 or Ercoupe. But a low time pilot can be just as sharp and maybe even sharper than the high time guy because he has been practicing.

  • I believe the Cirrus has a greater than usual proportion of landing accidents. I think that may be somewhat attributed to the side stick design. It’s motion and forces do not make it easy to be precise in the landing mode; in my opinion anyway. I have talked to very qualified test pilots about this and there does seem to be a general concensus.

    The parachute is interesting and has made some saves from both real and percieved situations, but there have also been some accidents involving takeoff and climb performance, or lack thereof. Did the extra 75 lbs of parachute have any bearing in those accidents? The airplane is not particularily light for it size.

    The autopilot is probably the biggest safety feature in this class of airplane and if we could make one that flew the entire flight planned flight, including weather decisions, great safety improvements would be possible.

  • Thinking a parachute will save your bacon MAY be a factor, just like the add-on STOL equipment common out here in the West. I hear pilots talk about using their STOL capabilities as an excuse to push the margins with slower approach speeds, etc. That is not their purpose, they simply give you an extra margin above stall in most cases, but they are not an excuse to fly outside the safety envelope. I think that MAY be a factor with the Cirrus. If it all goes to hell, just pull the chute.

  • I am an new (100 hours) Private Pilot up in Canada

    My choice as first aircraft is an Piper Colt, that I think is little more job to fly that an cessna (You need use rudder an an Colt) but safer that some low wing..

    Aviation it’s always an compromise, between speed, budget, payload etc, but I thing safety should never be an compromise so for an young pilot like me “learning” is the best solution an “Air fact” is an good example tank’s to Mr Collins

  • I think there should be a website that list pros & cons for each aircraft in reference to design weaknesses. Such example is planes that are difficult to recover during a stall, or difficult to stall (inherently stable). I also read where the Bell 206 B may lose tail rotor effectiveness under certain wind conditions and get out of control. These facts are not easy to find when one is deciding which aircraft to purchase, and I prefer to know before spending the money.

  • I believe it is almost completely the pilot and not the plane. A dangerous plane; complex, fast, nimble, etc in the hands of a well-trained pilot is almost certainly a beautiful thing. I am fairly inexperienced but have had the opportunity to fly 150+ hrs in a 172, 15+ in a bonanza, and 10+ in a cirrus sr22XT i found the cirrus to be incredibly intuitive and comfortable once I was nearing the end of my transition training. Yes the Cirrus is slick and a high performer but it does not even have retractable gear and is fairly easy to land no-flap. I flew it in Colorado through various conditions including icing and saw only one weakness for a pilot. With anti-icing, the perspective system (TCAS, live WX), 315hp, and a parachute it can build a great amount of false confidence leading to situations that should be avoided. I think all of these benefits of the cirrus should be used to get out of unplanned weather instead of trying to penetrate it.

  • I have read all of the comments from people that think they have all of the answers and know everything about the Cirrus. From what I have read all that I see from their comments is their knowledge is low and their resentment that they cannot afford a Cirrus is high so they try to condemn them. This is a whole new experience in flying. You can say all you want about the steam gauges, but they have gone away along with horseshoes. Join the new world

    I fly a SR22 and am proud of it. It is one of the most advanced single engine aircraft available. The state of the art avionics are fantastic and are a major safety advancement. The G1000 panel gives me total information of almost every detail needed in flight, from PFD panel with all flight data to the MFD with GPS flight programming and flight plans. It has airport information,Metars,enroute weather reports, engine performance. to name a few. It has Nexrad weather and lightning that warns of me of any dangerous weather ahead and it has night vision to show obstacles ahead. The 700 autopilot is fantastic. It is a lifesaver in IMC conditions, with capability to totally fly approaches and will fly plane almost to the runway. It takes over when you are busy programming approaches and setting up processes. It makes the plane safe to fly single pilot IMC and greatly improves the overall safety of all flights.

    The parachute is a wonderful addition. It adds a great margin of safety and gives one more reason to fly the Cirrus. They have already saved many lives and will continue saving more. There has been about forty pulls and all but one saved the lives of the occupants. The one I know of failed because it wasn’t deployed until late is a steep uncontrolled dive and tore the chute away from the plane. It is there when disaster strikes, from pilot collapse to violent weather to engine failure. It is safer to pull it rather then to attempt landings on rough terrain. Anybody that depends on it to allow them to take risks shouldn’t be flying.

    It is a vary fast and you have to stay ahead of it, but with the side yoke it it much more responsive than the slower 172 type aircraft. It lands beautifully, doesn’t balloon on landing and goes exactly where you put it. Just put it in the correct place. It is very comfortable to fly. Several flight schools are using the Cirrus for initial flight training.

    I transitioned out of 172s without any trouble. I forgot I had the side yoke in my hand about the time I cleared the end of my first runway.

    Learning the G1000 is probably the most work, but once you learn it you will never want to go back to steam gauges. I did have a couple hundred hours in the Garmin 1000 before I started flying the SR22 so that did eliminate training time.

    Enjoy flying and enjoy your planes. They are all fantastic big boy toys.

  • Here are my thoughts, based upon my flying experience of about 1700 hours and my 35 years experience as a professional engineer.

    1. Cirrus cannot be flown like a Cessna. It is fast, and has to be flown fast, including in the airport pattern. I rode for first time in Cirrus last week, and my first comment was, “Damn he is coming in hot.”

    2. People learn to fly in slower planes, get used to them, and graduate to something that will roll, spin, or get out of control if it gets to a slow speed that is commonly experienced with no problem in Cessna.

    3. All the safety features give too much confidence to pilot and can at the same time be distracting. Too much head in cockpit instead of flying.

    4. Cirrus is fast and is used for long trips more than Cessna. Look at Flight Tracker sorted by airplane brand, and it is obvious. Longer trips have more diverse weather, and they tempt pilots to fly in instrument conditions.

    5. Wealthier people who can afford Cirrus are often in medical field or some other non-mechanical field. Smart, but often not mechanical minded. A mechanical-minded pilot is a better pilot.

    6. Invitation it known ice by Cirrus, great IFR instruments, autopilot, oxygen, great night lighting, parachute, apparent coaxing by Cirrus to use these expensive and paid for features, in fact causes their use, thus more accidents.

    7. The plane is the best emulator of a commercial airline, and it makes the IFR pilot feel that he can do what he should not be doing, forgetting that the pro pilot has a lot more experience, can avoid weather better, has co-pilot, and has a more reliable plane.

    8. Cirrus may have some serious control loss that occurs suddenly and possibly unpredictably at low speeds. This is DANGEROUS. I you are going to fly one of these things, I suggest that you consider shallow turns and high speed when low to the ground. Plane appears to have tendency to snap roll if a wing drops and the classic Cessna maneuver to push opposite rudder in stall. In other words, if plane stalls and left wing drops, an experienced Cessna pilot will push right rudder to speed up the left wing. But in a Cirrus, it appears that this can cause a snap roll and spin. Cirrus reportedly can’t get out of spin with out chute.

    9. Hot rod syndrome.

    10. High stall speed. Maybe too high for a safe landing in a pasture.

    11. Pilots wonder if chute will work. Has failed before.

    12. Fast. Pilot has to stay ahead of the plane.

    When flown fast and conservatively in non-IMC, non-ice, daytime conditions, the Cirrus may be safe.

    Ok, shoot me down! 🙂

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