CAPS Test Firing(s)!

Cirrus Design test fired the CAPS system on three aircraft this morning.

Cirrus Design conducted the tests on three aircraft, two factory owned demonstrators and a third aircraft randomly chosen from the assembly line. The first two aircraft were made to conform to the two CAPS related SBs and the third was manufactured that way from the start. Mike Radomsky, COPA’s Chief Technical Liaison, was a witness and participated in the activation of the third aircraft. According to Mike, the tests were entirely fair and the only pre-test preparation of the aircraft was what was necessary for safety and filming. (removing the door and emptying the fuel).

The tests revealed some shortcomings which may exist in older aircraft, but overall, the tests were successful. Mike will post a full accounting of the tests and most importantly, what a pilot may expect if they have to activate the system.

We at COPA commend Cirrus Design for conducting these tests and the open fashion in which they were performed. We are convinced that the shortcomings will be addressed as aggressively as the previous SB’s have been. We also commend Cirrus Design for its ongoing commitment to the safety and quality of the aircraft that they produce.

Marty Kent

Great news. Great job by COPA and the COPA Response team. I know from corespondence on the COPA Response forum that you guys were working hard on this. Also, a great response by Cirrus. I have to admit I was worried as I waited for news like this for a few days. However, Cirrus has come through again by doing the right thing. Look forward to Mike’s report and to Cirrus’s statement.

What a company!

Yes, I’ve had at least my fair share of squawks but I love the way these guys respond.

We’d love to take the credit, but the lion’s share, if not all, of the credit goes to Cirrus Design, which has been very forthcoming on the issue and has been aggressively pursuing cures. The tests are another example of their desire to do the right thing.


I commend Cirrus for conducting the tests to insure that the CAPS system is working properly. To bad it took a failed deployment and COPA member pressure to make this happen. The ground test will restore some of my confidence in the system. The next step is for Cirrus to provide specific information regarding the strenght requied for deployment (40 Lbs., 100 Lbs. ??) and issue any post-test modications to the system. After all this is done, I would encourage Cirrus to test one of the production planes in real flight conditions.


Stuart, I have to disagree with testing one in flight. They have done more than they needed to convince me and I doubt it was because of COPA’s request. Bravo Cirrus!

We appreciate all of the kind words, but cannot accept credit for Cirrus Design’s actions. They really deserve the credit.


George, how can you trust your life (and friends and family) with a system that already has a track record of inconsistencies. First we were told that the system is proven and reliable. Then we were informed that there was a possible problem with the cable activation mechanism (first the rear section, then a few days later the forward section). Then, after the failed deployment of the CAPS in flight conditions, we were told that it takes 100 Lbs. of downward pressure rather than 40 Lbs. of forward pressure to activate the system.

Cirrus can do all the testing they like on the ground, but the real test, after all the modifications are made, would be to test a production plane in actual flying conditions, activating the BRS and then cut the chute from the plane. This time the test would be the focus of the aviation community and once and for all restore full confidence in the CAPS system. If the activation and deployment worked as specified, it would also give Cirrus a tremendous amount of publicity.


Marty, my reference to COPA was meant to suggest the overall pressure on Cirrus from owners, the media and the marketplace to do something to restore confidence in the CAPS system. The use of CAPS in a production aircraft is an intricate part of the Cirrus philosophy and marketing plan, and full confidence in the system must be restored to protect both our lives and the Cirrus reputation.

In reply to:

If it all worked as specified, it would also give Cirrus a tremendous amount of publicity.

And if it didn’t work as specified, it would also give Cirrus a tremendous amount of publicity!

It also could seriously hurt or kill someone, even if the chute worked perfectly.

Stuart, the whole point of this exercise is to restore confidence in the CAPS. No-one denies that there is a shadow cast over its operation as a result of the SBs and the recent accident. It will take Cirrus some time to reverse this, but I see the test firings as an important first step. What else is required is something to be considered carefully. For my money, I would like to see a production aircraft tested in flight, but with a modification to allow the parachute to be cut away after deployment, just as they did with the prototypes. I think it is unreasonable to ask a test pilot to deliberately ride a plane all the way to the ground under the chute - there are just too many variables.

Given Cirrus’ rapid response so far, I am personally confident that various options are being considered right now. One thing is for certain - Cirrus made the chute an integral part of both the plane and their whole business - there is no way they will allow it to remain under a cloud.


I look forward to understanding the root cause of the failure of the chute in the Lexington crash if Cirrus determines it and makes it public. Testing three chutes with success means that 3 out of 4 worked.

If it’s a matter of not enough force applied to the chute in the Lexington case, then we need to understand why it went from around 40 lbs to 100lbs or more (Maximum not spec’ed).

Walt N224AZ

well stated stuart…3 pulls no final results…and people are already trusting with thier lives so quickly…unbelievable.

I agree with Stuart’s assertion that we need another REAL
IN-FLIGHT TEST. Not for logical reasons but for emotional reasons. I realize that we pilots can RATIONALIZE that all we need to prove to ourselves is that the “rocket trigger” mechanism is operational. Our dirty little secret is that even when the parachute deploys …after that…who knows what will happen? I know here have been dummy “drop” tests, but for my wife (and most likely yours too!) this is not good enough folks! The past events put a serious doubt in her mind that this “THING” will work when her life and the kids lives depends on it.

Well then, here is a another one of those rare and great opportunities for CirrusDesign to turn the KY accident into their full advantage. Now that the aviation community is really paying attention, let’s do it! Let’s not drag our feet while everyone is watching us. Let’s put our advertising dollars at work…Let’s sacrifice a production SR22 labeled shell (not to infuriate the patient SR20 position holders) sans instruments and all the fancy trimmings. Invite the press and do a REAL demo! Heck this could make the “Believe it or Not” show! And seriously, isn’t this what it is really all about? We need a dummy filled plane, remotely controlled or with aa “ready to bail” test pilot, to set the plane up for a real CHUTE test. Let’s pull as hard as we can and deploy the parachute …and let it come down all the way to a full stop with mother earth. I intentionally did not say dead stop! Then let’s measure and count! Isn’t this how one does a crash test on a $15,000 car? Just because the airbag in a car deploys does not mean the passengers survive. If this all works out then this will mute all the NAYSAYERS and raise the price of all future contracts ! If it doesn’t …well then… CirrusDesign, should just charge the price Lancair charges for a similar nicely appointed airplane WITHOUT A PARACHUTE ;)… Just food for thought!

and us a whole lot of "depreciation’!

ThatÂ’s why they have test pilots.

Stuart, I hope that comment was in jest. I see no need to do further testing. The whole question was about the firing device. There is no reason to think the thing would work different in the air. As far as the Lexington accident, we don’t know enough about the amount and or direction of force exerted on the handle. Mike

Clyde, the test that I was suggesting would be similar to the original parachute cut away tests conducted by Cirrus. The only difference is that they would now use a production plane with all the new CAPS modifications. There is no need to take the plane and chute to the ground. My concern is with the activation system, not the CAPS concept itself.


Why not test over the desert and let the test pilot parachute out after the CAPS deploys? They could put crash dummies in the plane and measure deceleration forces, etc.