In the vein of pissing people off on this board by suggesting the Cirrus isn’t infallible, I would suggest that Cirrus could make the airplane four times as safe by doing one simple thing: getting rid of the parachute.
I predict that the Cirrus will become the next “Doctor Killer” (taking the dubious mantle from the Bonanza) because of its image as a simple, safe aircraft that anybody can fly and that will always give you a way out due to the parachute.
The psychology of the chute is horrible. It probably gives many pilots the notion that their actions are not as important because they are always operating with a backup. In reality, if you spin the airplane, are you going to have the mind to pull the chute?
What about the reliability of a circular chute in gusty conditions? With all the talk about “statistical significance” on this board, how many times did Cirrus really “pop the chute?”
I’d much rather put my faith in an airframe that is fundamentally hard to spin and forgiving to handle (e.g. C182) than in a complicated arrangement of cable, solid rocket fuel and silk.
Finally, getting rid of the chute will get rid of a lot of the people who are waiting for a Cirrus because they think (incorrectly) it’s a realiable form of transportation and not an avocation requiring intense practice and knowledge. If anything, the CIrrus is a less reliable machine than the venerable (and well tested) Cessna, but at best it’s still your average GA aircraft, with equipment that’s hamstrung by lack of volume, liability insurance and the government. It’s an adventure, not a car, and I seriously doubt that many of the people on the waiting list for one have the time or inclination to become the kind of pilots they need to be.
The worst thing Cirrus could have done for their airplane, in my opinion, is put the parachute on it. I think it’s distracted them from building a truly solid, reliable airplane, and it’s distracted pilots from being truly solid, reliable operators.
In the end, the CIrrus will probably backfire on the industry it was meant to save. I say this partly hoping that I will annoy people enough that it might not happen.