I’ve received a large number of individual notes over the last week or so “encouraging” COPA to do something about insurance rates.
Rather than continue responding individually to each note, shown below is a recent response which summarizes where I feel we are.
Thanks for the note.
And, please be assured that this is a concern we very much share. Both COPA and Cirrus are working hard on the problem.
First, Cirrus has begun meeting with the individual insurance underwriters to explain the aircraft, its safety features, repair cost etc. They have also restructured the New Owner Training and changed vendors from Wings Aloft. They are still working to find a permanent solution for the course. At AOPA Alan K made it very clear that he understood the problem and that it was a very high priority for CD. I hope that CD will be commenting on this issue more publicly in the near future. I have cc’d Ian Bentley on this response.
Unfortunately, the accident history is not on our side. While the database is a little small, it appears that the BEST we can say is that the SR2x accident rate isn’t worse (much worse?) than the industry average.
That’s right. Despite the fact that the aircraft has fixed gear, very forgiving stall characteristics, great avionics, has had no “design defect” related accidents etc, pilots continue to have accidents in SR2x aircraft at (above) the industry rate. I am currently working with CD to try and get better handle on the data.
But, if you assume that the aircraft should have a 20% lower accident rate than the competition, particularly the retractable competition, then SR2x PILOTS are causing 20% more accidents than Bonanza PILOTS would, for instance. Not particularly impressive, is it?
Obviously, I don’t know for sure. A couple of possible, but unproven (unproveable?) explanations:
“time-in-type” Military and civilian research on accident rates indicates that short time-in-type is a major contributor to accident rates. Note Marty Kent’s article in the first Newsletter on this subject. For the military, the data even indicates that in the first 100+ hours in type, 7500hr pilots are no safer than their 750hr cousins - and both are MUCH more likely to have accidents than they are when more experienced in the aircraft. The same is probably true to some extent for SR@x pilots, although the relative simplicity / similarity of our aircraft may lessen the effect. For the SR2x fleet, we are all in the low time-in-type danger zone. So, that may be part of the problem. But, if that is the problem, there are things we should be doing that we evidently aren’t - setting higher personal minimums, doing more structured training, being more conservative in flight planning. Is it happening ?
“mission focus” This one is even more speculation and is partly a result of my own self reflection. Human factors research has consistently indicated that certain personal styles are often contributors to accidents. I suspect that many of the current SR2x owners (including myself) are able to afford a $250k aircraft because we are reasonably successful at what we do on our “day job”. At least in my personal experience, that level of success is at partly the result of a personal style that includes a very high commitment to the “mission”, to getting things done, to accomplishing our objectives. Call it what you will, it is also a personal style that research indicates is NOT particularly helpful in the cockpit. It can easily transform itself into “get-there-itis” or an equivalent tendency to overlook real risks in order to complete the flight. A couple of the SR2x accidents, from the publicly available data, sound like they were the result of pilots stretching themselves, their aircraft, the environment beyond the point of safety. This is one issue which the CPPP will be looking at specifically.
Now, back to COPA. Our major focus and expenditure of member dues at the moment is development of the Cirrus Pilot Proficiency program. There is ample data that suggests that recurrent training is a big contributor to better pilot performance. We are also working with insurance companies, in parallel with CD, to explain the CPPP and get some relief on high insurance rates for those pilots taking CPPP (or equivalent recurrent training). At the moment, the environment is not particularly helpful with the underwriters loosing money on GA aircraft and being owned by parent companies looking at 9/11 and other huge losses. And, of course, there is the accident rate. The insurance companies are paying out on 7 SR2x accidents. Even if they get by with say $220k per accident, that is $1.4M. They are not going to recover that on $5k / pilot policies with the size of the SR2x fleet in the air the last 12 months.
So, I think the most important thing SR2x pilots can do is to get the accident rate under control. It will also save lives - regardless of what it does to insurance rates!
If you’d like a copy of the presentation I made at AOPA, which includes some comments on what COPA is doing, I’ll be glad to email one to you.
Robert T. Price
Cirrus Pilot Proficiency Program