chute Safety Pin

As a new owner that just completed training in Duluth, I couldn’t help but notice how difficult it is, even among the instructors, to always remember to reinstall the safety pin after a flight.

Typically, they seem to suggest putting it away in the center console. On a related matter, even the new preliminary written checklist that Cirrus is working on (I have a rough copy) totally forgets to list reinstalling the pin as one of the last checklist items. It doesn’t appear anywhere. I will call them on Monday to advise them about this.

In any event, I have come up with an idea that I believe solves this problem, at least for me. Purchase a very small alligator type clip that you can permanently fasten to the red flag or metal loop holding the safety pin. When you remove the pin prior to take off, simply take the pin/flag and attach it to your ignition key loop. It is very unlikely that you will remove your key from the ignition and fail to notice the 4" red flag attach… “ahaaa, guess I ought to put this pin back in the CAPS.”

One last note, while in Duluth the chief instructor re-emphasized two things… the importance of removing the safety pin each time before flight, AND if you decide to deploy the CAPS to immediately also activate the ELT manually, since the recent crash in Texas under the CAPS deployment was so soft, the ELT never activated on its own!

Can you imagine a commercial that starts off…“Even when our planes do crash, they do it so softly that the ELT never goes off!”

John Stewart

Your post suggests an obvious improvement for Cirrus…activating the CAPS should trigger the ELT automatically. Heck, my wife’s Mercedes E300 phones up the ‘command center’ with the lat/long of the car if the airbag goes off…and then a voice comes on the speakerphone to ask if you are all right! I guess we’ll need to get datalink to start thinking along those lines!

(Although I bet Mke R. could come up with a box you plug into your cell phone and handheld GPS that would do the same thing!)


Typically, they seem to suggest putting it away in the center console.

So what is wrong with that. We keep ours in the center console and the only time it is put back in is when someone is working on the CAPS system. A handle under a cover with a 90-pound pull to activate it is not something that you are likely to accidentally activate.

Does this mean everyone is pulling the pin before flight?
Is it reasonable or even desirable? How much extra effort, time, thought would it be required to pull the pin, THEN pull the chute?
Did the pilot in the recent incident have th pin removed before flight?
There may be nothing wrong with pulling the pin, although it may somewhat affect our attitude towards the chute and consider it as a casual option, when in fact it should be the last one. Finally lets not forget we have a lethal rocket tucked in the aft compartment…

I agree. We pulled the pin the first day and it hasn’t been back in since (no work needed on CAPS). I think the danger of forgetting to pull the pin prior to flight is much higher than an accidental pull. In fact, why would you ever touch the handle unless you removed and replaced the pin each flight?

I am with Art on this one. My pin has been pulled and residing in the center console since last December. When the chute needs to be pulled, I don’t want to have to think about ANYTHING except pulling that handle!


“So what is wrong with that?” is a good question with an equally good response. It is what they strongly recommend at Cirrus. I guess we can all choose to pick and choose as to what we agree with and what we don’t but that begs the strong admonitions of Cirrus.

As for the 90lbs of pull required, you really have missed the numbers here. Try 35-40 lbs, NOT 90! Being off by 50% in your estimated numbers leaves me wondering.

In reply to:

How much extra effort, time, thought would it be required to pull the pin, THEN pull the chute?

IMHO, the operative shortage would be thought more than time or effort; I believe we can all overestimate our functional ability and perspicacity following a panic-induced shot of adrenaline. In a truly disorienting accident such as MAC, it may actually be physically difficult to reach overhead twice to pull both pin and handle.

As for me, my CAPS pin only sees its home on the ground.

I used to be a “leave the pin in” sort of guy, until discussions with Mark Thomas, President of BRS, convinced me otherwise. The risk of an accidental pull in the normal course of operation or care is very, very minimal and the risk of not having the presence of mind to actually pull it when necessary is very real and as Mark has told me, has been demonstrated over and over.

I keep mine out, but hang it on the strap I use for my headsets. A second option is a loose cable tie connected to the T-Handle itself. That way it will always be available when maintenance is performed. BTW, most Cirrus Service Centers I’ve spoken with keep spares for their own safety. This is the first thing that they check when they take a Cirrus in for service.


I used to be a “leave the pin in” kind of guy, too, for the first few weeks of ownership. Now I remove the cover and pin before each flight. I place the cover in the pouch behind the copilot seat and clip the pin to my kneeboard. While I don’t see any real danger in just leaving the pin out altogether, I’m also the kind of guy that can’t not put it back at the end of the flight. Also, ceremoniously removing the pin before each flight gives me (and my passengers) another reminder that the CAPS is there - you never know what you might forget in times of stress.

I keep my CAPS safety pin in all the time the plane is on the ground and pull it right before I begin taxiing for any take-off. (I added entries in my pre-flight and post-flight checklists to remind me to do it.) I sewed a patch of velcro onto the back of the safety pin flag, and mounted the corresponding velcro bit to the bolster right under the #2 garmin CDI (right above the side yoke). Makes it stone-simple to make sure the CAPS is armed or safed, because that bright red tag should be in front of my control hand in flight, and it is right next to the master switches when securing the plane post-flight.
Like others, I would simply stow the pin somewhere and never safe the CAPS unless it was going in for maint. EXCEPT that my 7-year-old boy has already demonstrated that it takes no time at all for a curious youngster to remove the cover panel and start pulling on the handle. (Imagine my fright when he called out as I was pre-flighting the day I took him up for his first ride in the new plane “Hey DAD, What does this red handle do?!” He had gotten in the plane from the pax side without me seeing him, pulled the cover, and was actively trying to get the red handle to come down out of the ceiling!) Now the pin doesn’t come out until the engine is running and I have a taxi clearance (or until I have announced intent to taxi on UNICOM). It goes back in right after the master switches get turned off.

I fly a lot of kids - mine, Angel Flight, AirLifeLine, etc. The above procedure keeps me from having to remember different “adults only” and “kid pax” pre-flight procedures.

As for the 90lbs of pull required, you really have missed the numbers here. Try 35-40 lbs, NOT 90! Being off by 50% in your estimated numbers leaves me wondering.

Below is a quote from the last CAPS SB I received that specified how much pressure is required to activate the system.

Clasp both hands around activation T-handle and pull straight
downward with a strong, steady, and continuous force until the rocket activates. A chin-up type pull works best. Up to 100 pounds (45.4 Kg) force, or greater, may be required to activatethe rocket. The greater force required occurs as the cable arms and then releases the rocket igniter firing pin.