Airframe parachute risk management survey for pilots

This survey is for pilots of single engine land aircraft. It is part of my Master’s of Aerospace Safety degree program, is not for profit, no names or emails will be sold, used or associated with any of the responses. It is an attempt to associate risk management behavior, attitudes and beliefs with the relatively new technology of airframe parachutes.

This should take no more than 5 mins, just click on the link. I expect to stop/complete the survey early on Wednesday, Aug 3 in order to meet asignment deadline.

I assume if you are on this forum you understand the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) and it will be used interchangeably with Ballistic Recovery System (BRS) and airframe parachute.

There are no “right” or “wrong” answers and in no case is the answer meant to be a violation of FARs. Example, “would you operate in adverse weather?” means weather at or approaching the worst YOU are certified to operate in. i.e not busting mins. It is assumed you are going to operate legally at all times. I need responses from pilots of all experience levels, with and without BRS/CAPS experience. There are 22 multiple choice questions, please choose the closest answer to your opinion and answer truthfully.

Thank you for your time and assistance.


Dave Leedom

David, it would help to learn more about you and your degree program.

What is your target survey population? Obviously, posting on a site for Cirrus owners and pilots will get a bunch of experienced folks. However, note that not all COPA members read the Guest Discussion forum, since many prefer the member forums.

Do you have any hypotheses that you are testing with this survey?

Will you share your results and conclusions here?


There appears to be a “wrong” question, though. See # 13: “With regards forced landings under aster conditions…” What are “aster conditions?”

Good point, what I was trying to say is rough terrain, mountainous areas, large remote forest, as in no level ground or fields. Obviously no forced landing is ideal but over hay fields is preferable to boulders, trees with no level ground and possibly many miles from assistance. Think ABQ to DEN as opposed to OKC to DAL.

OK, but my point was that the word “aster” refers to a genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. (Either that, or the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer.) I was pointing out a typo.


Email me at and I’ll fill you in.

BTW, might want to quote you and some of your research.



MY BAD! Austere, as in harsh or forbidding…

Dang computer spell checkers, they should know what I meant! :slight_smile:

Thanks! I’ll fix that!

Our own Mike Radomsky found this poem:

Now, back to the questionnaire, I have an issue with question 19:

I think is is mixing too many things in the basket to allow a meaningful answer, and the word “confidence” is slippery IMO. For me, only “night” and perhaps “remote, rugged areas” trigger a “yes” answer to the question, while “weather” prompts an emphatic “no.”

Personally, there is only one flight condition where CAPS affects my go/no-go decision: Night. Although in my youth I did many night flights in single engine aircraft over rugged terrain (I live in Santa Barbara), now that I value life a little more I will no longer do so unless I have CAPS. There is simply no other “out” without it. But given its incredible record of successful deployment, I think it is a viable “out” for a night engine out emergency. I would not have said that in 2003 when I got the airplane, because there was no CAPS track record at that point and I frankly thought it would be far less reliable that it turned out to be.

But “weather” is a completely different matter. The availability of CAPS simply would never affect my decision-making with respect to weather conditions.

Let’s put it this way: The availability of CAPS never makes up for deficiencies in either my skills/currency or the aircraft’s capabilities with the single exception of the consequences of an engine failure at night or an engine failure over terrain incompatible with a conventional off-airport landing.

The problem with your questionnaire is that the questions you have formulated do not allow me to make that philosophy clear. I think there are a lot of pilots who approach CAPS in the same way, and your questionnaire would lump them into a “risky behavior/decision-making” category that they don’t belong in.


Very valid point, it is not meant to say you are going to take unsafe/risky actions, just that in those cases where you are going anyway, you are more comfortable. That “comfort” may make some of us lean towards going when it is close to our limits, others, not so much.

If CAPS allows you more utility from your aircraft at the same or less risk to life and limb, that’s a good thing…my opinion. Coming from an ejection seat background I can tell you there are certainly times when you feel more “comfortable” having that option available if things go badly.

I will use your comments to clarify the results. I just don’t have the time to break out each different “higher risk” and or “higher demand” operation. I have learned with surveys, keep them short or folks will not take them. I am attempting to see if there is a difference in attitudes between those that do fly BRS aircraft and those that don’t. I bet there is but the survey will give the data. There will be different opinions that may go along age lines, previous experience or other factors.

I don’t really want to say more for fear of influencing those who have not taken the survey other than to say I am not out to ambush anyone’s position on how they manage risk. I have no personal agenda.

Marion Cole, a good friend of mine, just passed away of natural causes at 86 with 30,000+ hours and he would do an inverted ribbon cutting at 12’ off the ground but would not fly single engine at night. Obviously, I respected his opinion and he made it to a ripe old age, but I have a different risk matrix (and a lot less talent).

Besides completing my paper my hope is to have folks think about why they are accepting some risks but not others and doing it in an informed manner, and with safer results.



Dave: I just finished your survey. Many of the questions are a bit “gamed” the way they are worded. They hint toward “taking more risk” if you have the chute.

I tried to answer the best I could but on about 5 questions there really was not an answer I liked.

For example, flying over “hostile terrain” at night. My decision to do that is not finalized on whether I have a chute or not. It is based on other factors of which the chute is a minor element but nonetheless is a cushion of safety.

I consider chute pulls in the category of survivable accidents. But being an accident nonetheless, I do not want any chute pulls if I can avoid them. So having the chute is not going to have me take a flight I would not take without it. But every flight “feels” more comfortable knowing it is there.

Admittedly there should have been the question of if the BRS is a primary consideration in the go/no go decision I just didn’t think of it. I’m hearing from several sources that it is a consideration but not the primary one. Your remarks will be noted in my paper. Thanks for taking the time and commenting.

Fly Safe!


That’s laudable. The more thinking, the better.

Since you’ve just joined and you have this interest, I suggest that you use the advanced search capabilities on the Forum to peruse many of the past threads about CAPS. We spend a great deal of time discussing it. For example, there are threads discussing the use of CAPS over water that have literally hundreds of posts.

Another widely discussed topic is the decision on whether to use CAPS for an off-airport landing as opposed to a conventional power-off glide to a field or road. That’s one where over time I personally have completely changed my strategy, having seen the success of the system and having read about too many off-airport landing attempts that have ended in tragedy. This is an interesting one, in that in my opinion the skill of the pilot (in terms of their ability to put the airplane where they want it) has nothing to do with it.

Contrary to the opinion of Cessna salesmen (and many Cessna owners and Cirrus naysayers), CAPS is anything but taken lightly here, and we are as a group very strongly opposed to any abuse of its presence in terms of making poor go/no-go decisions. None of us plans flights and takes off with the thought “Well, if the icing gets bad I always have CAPS,” just as no one drives a car recklessly, thinking “Well, if I go out of control I have airbags.”

When searching, you’ll probably need to use the word “chute” in your search terms. Of course, this is a “chute:”

I am the only one who ever puts an apostrophy preceding the “c” when using 'chute instead of parachute. [:D]

Yes. But we expect good grammar and spelling from you. Conversely, I apologize for my shortcomings [:$] and just admit to being a poor language student.


Some folks take offence to the idea of “taking risk” because of the 'chute. Taking risks is what we do as pilots, it is what we must manage successfully…If I decide to fly at night over mountains, and BRS is part of the equation, it doesn’t always mean I elected to go because I have a 'chute but that maybe the 'chute mitigated some of the risks involved. I might have decided to go anyway, now I just have a better option in an emergency; I would be more comfortable with my decision. The military aviation world went through similar debates in the late 40s and early 50s with ejection seats.

As for taking this lightly, I have never thought for a second that sane pilot would think, “oh well, press on, I’ll just use the 'chute if things go south.” I know this subject has been discussed in depth, my friends with Cirrus aircraft have discussed it many times. Those discussions along with thousands of hours sitting in ejection seats and flying hundreds of hours wearing chutes in aerobatic aircraft are what got me interested in the many different views and changing opinions about the BRS concept. Example, why are many folks who flew happily without BRS for years are now unwilling to fly without it? Others start in BRS aircraft then gain more experience and start flying other aircraft without the ‘chute…

I have friends who fly aerobatics, I mean serious aerobatics, without a chute. I admit I will not practice inverted, accelerated or flat spins without wearing a chute. Does that mean I am taking a risk because I have a chute? Or am I mitigating the risk with by wearing a chute? Either way it makes me “comfortable” enough to practice what I obviously feel are somewhat “risky” maneuvers. I’m not much for the old British idea of not wearing a chute to “give the plane a sporting chance, old chap.”

I am not a Cessna salesman or a Cirrus naysayer, and I still say the drive to the airport is the most dangerous thing about avaition.

I appreciate your post and position, which I agree with. You would be surprised (or maybe not) about how many people think that Cirrus owners in general make up for their supposed inexperience or lack of skills by thinking of the 'chute as a mitigating factor. I just don’t know any owners who think that way.

I’m in complete accord with Gordon, although I don’t have CAPS, I have KAPS (Katmai Airframe Parachute System–which is batting 1.000 on successful deployments, 1 for 1!). [;)]