In reply to:
… In other words, given then extra safety equipment and sit. awareness of the SR, pilots take on risks they wouldn’t in a lesser equiped airplane. I wonder how many pilots who otherwise would stay mostly out of the clouds now find themselves flying coupled ILS approaches down to minimums.
The problem with the SR may be that it’s so capable, pilots are less wary about the situtations they get themselves into, especially with regard to IMC. And we all know that most fatal accidents arise from weather.
No doubt, much of what you said is true, and contributes to what we’re seeing reflected in our track record. Here are some further thoughts:
1] A biggie: Low-Time-in-Type. This is a known high-risk factor, one that affects even very highly experienced pilots. Almost by definition, we (pilots of not just Cirrus, but Lancair, Diamond etc. as well) are Low-Time-in-Type.
2] It takes money to buy these airplanes. Money doesn’t equal stupidity - actually, it’s more likely to be an indicator of success, and perhaps therefore, intelligence; BUT it may also be an indicator of a near-lifetime of passionate involvement with a business or a carreer, and the eventual realization of a dream - to own a nice airplane. It seems to me that a sizeable proportion of our number is “Returning to Flying After a Substantial Period of Time”… during which we were often occasional pilots only. Many of us are simply not current (enough). We trail behind the younger pilots in recent experience.
3] “Taking risks they wouldn’t in a lesser equipped airplane” – well, yes… perhaps that’s why we bought them; not to take RISKS, per se, but to do things that simply aren’t comfortable in a lesser equipped airplane, but ARE comfortable in these. (Again, not just Cirrus airplanes, but any of the “new breed”). Of course, I’m using the term “risk” in the way I think you meant it, recognizing that everything involves risk - even preflighting the airplane. Certainly, an approach to minimums in a well equipped airplane SHOULD be less ‘risky’ than one in a lesser equipped airplane, but only if the pilot is proficient with all the equipment and is capable, comfortable and current. Otherwise, the equipment on board is just a distraction, and is indeed a safety liability. So far, though, I’m not aware of any Approach-related accidents, so I’m not inclined to think that this has been a problem (yet).
4] “given then extra safety equipment and sit. awareness of the SR…”. This one gave me pause… could there really be pilots who take extra risks because we have the CAPS? (You didn’t mention that specifically, but that’s where my thoughts went). Geez, I hope not. That would be like not paying attention on the highway because you know you have a safety belt or airbag. But you never know.
5] “And we all know that most fatal accidents arise from weather” - Yes… we have had at least one that I’m aware of that has weather as a factor. Did the airplane’s capabilities lull the pilot into a false sense of security, or lead him down a tempting path that he might otherwise not have followed? We may never know the answer. I do know that we’d better ALL be cognizant of the fact that weather is sometimes bigger and stronger than any airplane or skillset we may have. Many of the rules and common-sense dictates of flying are written in blood. It’s such a shame to miss their lessons.
6] Mostly, I hope that drivers of ALL airplanes, but especially those of us with Low-Time-in-Type (and maybe lots of Time-in-Life) remain acutely aware that flying remains an activity to be treated with the utmost respect and care. My impression (strictly my own opinion - I have no hard data yet to back this up) is that the SR2x accidents we’ve seen all had causes that are non-airplane-specific. I do so hope that the pilots who are attracted to other similar airplanes (Columbias, Diamonds, etc.) regard themselves as part of the SAME family as we are - safety has no room for “partisan politics”. I want our “Modern GA Airplane Family” to survive and thrive… but as a group, it’s who we are that’s killing us, not what we fly.
Sorry for the ramble… just MHO.