Press Release by Cirrus Design on CAPS Deployment

[Posted for COPA folks who may not get the email distribution. RJB]
For Immediate Release
Ian Bentley
Cirrus Design Corporation
(218) 529-7224
Cirrus SR22 Pilot Deploys Parachute and Walks Away
First time a certified aircraft has landed using an airframe parachute
DULUTH, Minn. – October 4, 2002 – A Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) was deployed near Dallas, Texas, yesterday, when the pilot of an SR22 deployed the system after experiencing control difficulties. This marks the first time a certified aircraft has successfully landed under an airframe parachute canopy.
According to FAA reports, the pilot radioed to the tower yesterday afternoon that he was experiencing compromised control of his SR22, and had decided to deploy the CAPS. The aircraft landed in a wooded area between Lewisville and Carrollton in northern Texas. The FAA also reported that the pilot was uninjured in the incident.
“Saving the life of pilots is the reason we chose this route”, stated Alan Klapmeier President and one of the company’s founders. “Cirrus Design pioneered the use of this innovative safety measure in its planes to help set the course for all personal aviation. Building CAPS into our aircraft was done to contribute to the overall level of safety in personal air travel and protect the general aviation pilots of the future. Although our first measure of safety is prevention, we are delighted that CAPS worked to save this pilot. All of us at Cirrus Design can feel good about that.”
The company that supplies the parachute to Cirrus is BRS (Ballistic Recovery Systems, Inc.), of St. Paul, MN. President and CEO Mark Thomas as was quoted by Aero-Net News stating, “This is a very exciting day for BRS. This is why we do what we do… and it solidifies Cirrus’s amazing vision for making aviation as safe as they can. This time, that foresight averted a catastrophe and they need to be applauded for their vision.”

CAPS is standard equipment on all Cirrus aircraft, which are the only certified aircraft to employ such a system.
Cirrus Alone in Providing Parachute Protection

When Alan Klapmeier and his brother, Dale, founded Cirrus Design in 1984, they were committed to designing and manufacturing the safest general aviation aircraft possible. That philosophical decision was grounded in personal experience. As a young man, Alan Klapmeier survived a mid-air collision in which another pilot was killed. As a result, he was determined to find a way to make flying safer. “Even under the best of circumstances, crises can happen,” said Alan Klapmeier. “Our goal was to design an aircraft in which they didn’t have to be fatal.”

Cirrus has spent over $10 million to develop, test and implement the CAPS, and is the only company to manufacture certified aircraft with an airframe parachute as standard equipment. It’s a decision that was derided by much of the aviation industry. “A lot of people thought we were nuts,” said Klapmeier. “They believed the parachute was an unnecessary expense that added weight to the aircraft to boot. To make things worse, they thought competent, macho pilots didn’t need it and wouldn’t use it anyway. Yesterday, Lionel Morrison proved them wrong.”

Ballistic Recovery Systems (BRS) of South St. Paul, Minn., supply Cirrus the parachutes and helped them design and certify CAPS. The system uses a parachute that is located in a canister behind the aft bulkhead. The parachute is connected to Kevlar harnesses embedded in the fuselage, coupled with 48-foot-long suspension lines. When the system is deployed, a solid rocket motor extracts the pressure-packed parachute assembly from its canister. The parachute achieves full-line stretch in about 1.5 seconds and fully extends in another few seconds, lowering the aircraft and its occupants to the ground.

The system is designed to be used as a last resort, when all other means of controlling the aircraft safely have been exhausted. Possible situations when it could be appropriate to use the CAPS include mid-air collision, control impairment, mechanical failure, pilot incapacitation or loss of orientation or fuel exhaustion over hostile terrain.

The safety features on Cirrus aircraft don’t end with the CAPS. Both the SR20 and SR22 feature seats tested to 26gs, incorporating a four-point harness on all four seats to meet the most stringent FAA requirements. Similarly, the Cirrus roll cage and composite airframe construction increase energy absorption and provide greater structural integrity offering up to 3g-rollover protection to the pilot and passengers. All these features contributed to yesterdays successful deployment and landing.

Cirrus Design Corporation is based in Duluth, MN, with additional facilities in Hibbing, MN, and Grand Forks, ND. The company, manufactures and markets general aviation composite aircraft, incorporating advanced technologies that result in high levels of performance, safety and comfort.

Editor?s Note: High-resolution photography is available at