To continue with the saga of N427MC:
our contract administrator called me today informing us, that the part is ready, and our original instructor will be heading to Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ this afternoon. Tomorrow morning Corporate Jets, the Scottsdale Servicce Center will perform the required part installation, and then the instructor together with my partner Andy, will fly back to VNY.
CIRRUS indeed came through for us on this change and very professionally and in a very expeditious manner they are making the plane flyable and “instructable” again! Thank you CIRRUS! Of course I’ll also write a nice note to them directly.

On a sad note, what I was writing all along, that a magnitude of this part, however tiny it may be, effects the original type certificate of CIRRUS. This afternoon I have received, and probably all of you did/will receive a series of new SBs, which effectively grounds the entire fleet, and this is MANDATORY. Except a VFR, DAY no passenger flight to the nearest Service Center, the fleet is grounded. I think the parts will be flying out to the Service Centers, and the fix will be quick, now that Guinnea PIG N427MC is still living after the fix is effected. Best of luck to all of you, and like Woor has always signed off: HAVE A GREAT CIRRUS DAY!

I remind you that a SB or even a “mandatory SB” does not ground the fleet. As of this second, the fleet is not grounded. That is not to say it won’t become grounded in a day or so when the FAA releases an emergency AD…but as of this second, it is legal to fly a Cirrus.

This afternoon I have received, and probably all of you did/will receive a series of new SBs, which effectively grounds the entire fleet, and this is MANDATORY. Except a VFR, DAY no passenger flight to the nearest Service Center, the fleet is grounded.
That is GREAT news that you will soon be back in the air! [:)] I’m really glad to hear that Cirrus is doing the right thing when it comes to your situation.
I don’t want to pick nits, but I do want to make an important point here. Even though the SBs say “MANDATORY” (as your comment mentioned), let’s keep in mind that really the only “MANDATORY” directives can come from the FAA in the form of an AD.
An SB, whether a manufacturer labels it as mandatory or not, is not legally required to be performed for most of us (part 91, non commercial ops).
I expect the FAA will come out with an AD soon requiring the Cirrus SB to be performed. At that time (and not before), the fleet will be grounded. (And hopefully by that time, a lot of the planes will have had the fix already applied!)
In this particular case, it’s probably a “distinction without a difference” since I assume most of us are abiding by the Cirrus SB anyway, and we certainly will all get the fix (especially since it’s under warranty!)
But, in general, once the warranties on our birds start running out, we need to remember that the only things we have to comply with are ADs from the FAA. It may be very smart to comply with all SBs, but not legally required (nor, as John Helms pointed out in another mail, is it typically required by most insurance companies).

Sorry to be such a pain in the butt - this email isn’t really directed at you, it’s more just to make sure that everybody understands what is legally required of them. I do understand that in your specific case, you really are grounded by the SB, since your insurance won’t cover you unless you get your training, and your cirrus instructor won’t train you until the plane is fixed. But I don’t want the other owners out there to get the wrong impression…

Hope you have a great (and uneventful) flight back to VNY real soon!


I can’t believe all the discussion about this SB. When I found out about it (Tuesday), I went to the Cirrus website, downloaded the Cirrus and BRS SB’s. Read both of them and called BRS about a couple of questions I had, called Cirrus Tuesday afternoon, and had the part (clamp, nut and bolt) Wednesday lunchtime, and I installed it within about 1/2 hour start to finish. It really doesn’t matter if you are grounded or not…but I have always tried to live by "It is better to have something and not need it than it is to need something and not have it. Just remember that an accident is an unplanned event.

Cessna sends out Mandatory SB’s all the time and the Cessna Pilots Asociation (CPA) agrees with most but not all of them. CPA, however, consistantly notes that ONLY the FAA can ground the aircraft." Mandatory", from the factory is an effort to cover their rear if something goes wrong and they had previous knowledge of it without making an effort to correct it.

Thanks, Steve - well said. You win my award for the most thoughtful posts during this entire parachute episode.

My $0.02 worth on this issue:
First, the disclaimers: (1) Although I am replying to Steve’s post, this isn’t directed specifically at his comments… (2) I am not a lawyer, but I did consult with one, an aviation and civil torts expert in fact, on this issue.
Gentlemen, you all are right and you all are wrong.
On the “We can still fly our airplanes” side:
A). Only the FAA OR NTSB OR a court of competent jurisdiction can ground an airplane.
B). Mandatory service bulletins from the factory are NOT legally binding in regard to airworthiness.
C). If its unreliable (i.e. it might not work when activated), you have to placard the CAPS as Inoperable before you fly, since it IS a required flight operations component (the only approved way to recover from a spin). See 40 CFR 91.213.
On the “We’re grounded” side:
D). If you know about the SB, and the FAA decides non-compliance (i.e. flying the plane before you get it fixed) constitutes a Safety of Flight violation, they can start an action against you / your certificate under 40 CFR 91.3, 40 CFR 91.7, and 40 CFR 91.13, among others. (read the FAR, gentlemen)
E). If you know about the SB, fly anyway, and have an accident where the CAPS could have saved your butt, the plane, or someone else’s butt or property: [1] your insurance company is going to laugh you out of the office when you try to make a claim (yes, I asked mine, they said I would NOT be covered if I knowingly flew contrary to the provisions of a factory issued SB and the proper repair of the malfunctioning part would have altered the outcome of the accident. [2] You’d be sued by everybody from God down for being grossly negligent in your operation of the aircraft. [3] If anyone was hurt in the accident, you’ll most likely be prosecuted at least for criminal reckless endangerment, if not worse.

So, legally, we can fly as long as we do what’s required by 40 CFR 91.213 until the regulatory or enforcement folks say otherwise. BUT, the FAA can decide at any time that flying with a “broken” CAPS isn’t safe and bust you for it. AND, if you have an accident while flying where CAPS deployment might have changed the outcome, you’re going to be hauled through the courts and the insurance company is going to politely look the other way while it happens…

So, it boils down to a classic case of real vs perceived risk: Its not likely you’ll need the CAPS if you go fly on any given day, but the powers that be are going to nail your *ss to the wall if it turns out you do and it doesn’t work because you didn’t get it fixed first.

My comments:
When you ask a lawyer a question, you will get his opinion. A lot of law is vague and opinion can come in two forms; a hunch and an opnion based on past legal precedent. I think the recent opnion rendered here falls in the first category.

Steve is the most accurate with the facts. The FAA determines if an aircraft operatin is legal or not, not the manufacturer. Manufactureres try all the time to tell you NOT to do things purely for their own protection; not necessarily yours. The vacuum pump case is a good example of this,

So far, the FAA has NOT grounded the planes. Therefore it is legal to fly.
On the insurance front, there are miltiple sides to this issue. An insurance company COULD try to deny a claim for ANY reason but then it often takes a court case to prove otherwise. The insurance industry is sensitive to excess claim denials (except in the case of medical insurance where they deny all the time). Companies do not like getting the reputation for denying claims on “technicalities” so most will not do that. Your individual policy is your best source here. If they do not specifically say that flying without compliance with an SB will result in a denied claim, then they will have a hard time refusing to pay and most will not risk their reputation to do so. Clearly illegal acts will be denied but THIS SB does not fall into that category.

That was a fine and thoughtful post. In the end analysis, the thought that’s keeping me on the ground now, though, is the one that Andy Bresler raised in an earlier post (thanks, Andy). If at any time in the future, I get involved in my first brush with aviation legal beagles… and they look back and point to “a pattern of negligence, as evidenced by the choice to fly when it was clearly contra-indicated by the manufacturer”… well, that wouldn’t be good.
Disclaimer: The previous sentence notwithstanding, I know nothing about the law, and less than nothing about medicine.


Thanks for your post - it brings up several good points. I could certainly see the FAA deciding, after an accident/incident, that not complying with a SB to be ‘careless/reckless’. However, I could see them being able to somehow pin the ‘careless/reckless’ charge on a large majority of PICs involved in accidents.
I am less convinced of the insurance argument. We all received “Service Letters” from Airborne (Parker) regarding vacuum pumps sometime in the last year. In fact, from what I have read, owners of all planes with Airborne pumps received this “Service Letter”. it says, in part:


(color and caps are copied as-is from the Service Letter).

Does this imply that anyone who owns an older C172 or any other plane with a single vacuum pump, no standby vacuum, and no electric AI will not be covered by their insurance if they get into an accident in IMC because of a vacuum failure?


Bill -

Thanks for your research and authoritative sounding posting. A bit strident, perhaps, but authoritative.

Unfortunately, it also appears that it may be incorrect, at least in part.


  1. “you have to placard the CAPS as Inoperable before you fly”

I don’t believe the Cirrus or BRS SBs state that the CAPS are inoperative and should be placarded as such. Instead, they raise the possibility that, because of either a failure to meet design manufacturing tolerances or incorrectly set tolerances, SOME CAPS installed in Cirrus aircraft MAY fail to activate. While it might be theoretically possible to determine whether a particular unit was inoperative, such a determination is not recommended or required by the SB. The SB simply solves the problem, whether it exists or not. I also do not believe that this approach was just an oversight - see #2 below.

  1. If a PIC or an A&P determined that the CAPS on a particular SR2x was inoperative and so placarded, then the aircraft could not be flown under any flight conditions (VFR, IFR, pax, no pax) without an FAA ferry permit. Same FAR 91.213 your lawyer cited. I don’t see any way for a manufacturer to “issue” one as part of an SB.

Did I misread the FARs or does your lawyer have a different view of the implications of placarding required equipment?


I don’t know, Steve. But, based on my discusssion with the legal folks, the insurance company would certainly TRY to get out of covering you under that circumstance - if you were flying IFR, not just in IMC [;)]. Also, evidently there’s a subtle difference between a SB from the aircraft manufacturer and a parts manufacturer … I asked what was the logic of Cirrus issuing an SB in addition to the BRS SB… I guess it boils down to whatever is in the fine print of your individual insurance contract, though.

I think most pilots had a very negative reaction to Parker’s transparent effort to evade liability. At the same time, one would think that they felt it provided them some hope of legal insulation.

With all the discussion regarding grounding the Cirri, I think there’s some distinct issues, which could conflict in their direction.

  1. Are we legally grounded? (Looks like no, to me)
  2. Are Cirri still safe to fly? (Yes, in my opinion)
  3. Is there some degree of legal or insurance risk in flying now? (People making good arguments on both sides.)

My $.02 worth.


Not trying to be to cynical, but most insurance companies will TRY to avoid ALL large claims, in my limited experience.

Please READ YOUR INSURANCE POLICIES!!! You paid for them, you should know what they say!

I deal with all of the A rated and better companies… for most of them (one does not even include this) the only wording (having to do with this subject) they include in their policy is something to the effect that the “airworthiness certificate must be in full force and effect.”

There is no mention of the manufacturer recommending something (no matter how strongly themanufacturer might word it.)

IF the FAA puts out an AD (which I know they are working on), AND IF you do not comply (i.e. it might say “within the next 5 hours of flight” or something) THEN your airworthiness certificate would not be in effect, and thus your insurance company could have a basis for not covering a claim.

John “JT” Helms

Sorry for sounding strident in my post! Not intentional [:)], just my writing style, I guess! And, who knows? This is just the opinion I got when asking was it legally safe and / or advisable for me to fly my Cirrus until I could get it fixed, assuming at the time it was going to take a LOT longer than a couple of days to get it done. [Comes from being married to a lawyer - legal paranoia becomes normal behavior]. Lastly, remember, opinions are like ssoles, everybody has one, they’re all different, and they get used constantly! [:)]
As for your questions, the placarding req. was based on his [NOT my wife! [:)]]interpretation of past FAA inforcements where unreliable equipment was considered the same thing as inoperable. If the PIC knows they might not work, or might not work correctly, they have to be considered non-functional in regards to airworthiness. Ex. given were an intermittent landing gear pump switch, an ADF that had receiver antenna issues, and a slaved DG that would not stay slaved. He noted that none of these inforcements were based on accidents, but were based on ramp checks of rental aircraft where the items had been squawked in the flight cans but the pilots flew the planes anyway.

As for compliance with 91.213, it APPEARS that as long as the provisions of 91.213(d) are complied with, esp. that 91.213(d)(2) does NOT apply to your aircraft - some question about THAT one - , then inactivating the CAPS (I’d simply install the safety pin) and placarding it (91.213(d)(3)) should do the trick. Then, there’s 91.213(d)(4) – the SB from Cirrus implies that their A&Ps have already determined that the plane is at least marginally safe to fly with a potentially inop CAPS; if the PIC concurs… fly!

I guess the placarding issue all really does boil down to:
(1) is UNRELIABLE the same thing as INOPERABLE?
(2) is the CAPS really a VFR-day type certification equipment item?
(3) is the CAPS required under 91.205?

My (o) opinion only of course!

Not intended as a flame, but your experience IS probably limited (and limited to AVEMCO claims perhaps… they do fight as many claims as possible.)

You mean AVEMCO not all insurance companies. In my many years of insuring light aircraft, the only denial of coverage I have EVER seen from a NON-AVEMCO insurance company was on an airplane that was out of annual. (young [19 yrs] kid had non-aviator parents buy a plane, they didn’t do an annual as pre-buy, no evidence of annual performed for 1 year prior to sale of plane, accident happened 11 months into the policy [i.e. it was about time to do another even if one had been done at time of purchase.])

Please do not lump the excellent companies that I deal with every day in with AVEMCO (spit).

I had a company pay a claim this year even though the owner lied to them about how many hours he had…(he probably did it to lower his premium). He was only 40 hours off, but it put him from 280 to over 300 (a fairly standard break point in rates.) They considered it an error (assumably in adding) and let it go at that. The company did not even ask him to pay the difference between what he paid, and what he should have paid (this is what I expected them to do.)

John “JT” Helms

Thanks for backing up my above post.


No flame taken.

I should have said “some” instead of “most”, my error.

But John, don’t hold back, tell us how you “really” feel about Avemco. :wink:


No problem…

People (posters) are quick to write stuff here about which they know very little, and they won’t even pick up their policy to see what it says before doing so.

I don’t even enjoy reading them, but skimming thru a policy and finding this wording would not even take 15 minutes even if you had never opened the policy before. People aren’t even willing to do that.

With that said, I know everyone wants to do the SB as soon as possible, and that is great. But flying prior to that would be a covered occurence by every aviation insurance policy that I have ever read.

John “JT” Helms