Value prop of BRS in a Cessna 172 compared to CAPS in a Cirrus?

Hi everyone,

I’m hoping to learn from folks who are familiar with Cirrus, CAPS, and Cessna 172s.

I’ll soon be purchasing an older Cessna 172 (first plane), and I’m debating whether to add a BRS chute to it.

I’m a big believer in CAPS as it pertains to the SR20 and SR22. However, I can’t tell whether BRS is as compelling in a 172. Quantitatively, there isn’t much to go on – the Cessna BRS fleet is small, and its results are not published like the Cirrus ones are. Qualitatively, I understand the 172 to be less likely to spin than an SR20 or SR22, as well as to be easier to land in a field and at slower speeds. On the flip side, in the terrible event of a midair collision or an unforeseeable structural failure, I’d give anything to have that handle next to me.

I’d appreciate your collective thoughts on the following questions:

  1. Is my thinking (facts and assumptions) as I have laid it out above correct?

  2. What proportion of good-judgment BRS deployments in a Cirrus would also be good-judgment deployments in a Cessna?

  3. Aside from cost and useful load, do you see any downsides to putting a BRS in an older 172?

  4. Is there anything you think I should consider in this decision that I haven’t touched on?

Many thanks in advance!

Not sure what the cost is of your 172 plus CAPS. How about considering a G1 SR20 which is the most affordable in the Cirrus Lineup? I often see C-172 or Pa-28 for sale that are much older, don’t have CAPS, Slower cruise speed and the asking price exceeds the price of a older SR20.

I’d love to fly a SR20 some day, but it’s way beyond my budget right now. I’m looking at C172s in the $30-$50k range. Even on the high end with a brand new BRS install, I’m looking at half the cost of an entry-level Cirrus.

I researched this option for 172 and 182 before going Cirrus. Why I chose Cirrus SR22:

  1. Useful Load: The BRS has a weight penalty. I don’t want to quote a wrong number here, but it seriously eats into the 172 / 182 useful.

  2. Less Real World Testing: With Cirrus, we know it works.

  3. Baggage Compartment: Forget carrying suitcases in the 172 / 182 with BRS. The parachute eats up much of the baggage area.

  4. Price: I suspect you’ll have trouble finding a 172 in your price range that doesn’t need a lot of expensive repairs. Airworthy 172’s simply cost more than that unless they have issues. When I compared, I could get a pristine G2 for $187K with 1,400 hours. At 2,000 hours, the value has actually increased. At the time I purchased 5 years ago, $187K bought a very mediocre 172. But yes, maintenance costs are higher on Cirrus.

My takeaway: For those who want a parachute, buy a Cirrus, which is purpose-built for it. I love the idea of a G1…such a bargain!

With a budget like that, maybe you should consider a different airplane that comes standard with a BRS parachute. For example, if you only needed 2 seats and VFR only, a Flight Design CTLS is a good option. You could get a used one in the $80k range that is 10-12 years old and will cost a lot less to own and operate than an old 172.

But don’t get discouraged…if a SR20 is out of your wheelhouse and you want a 172 with a BRS I say go for it. That will be a very unique plane and easy to sell 172 in my opinion…as if they aren’t easy to sell enough. Think about future or potential students if a training program was offered in a 172 that had a BRS. Neat idea, I say go for it. 182s are gobbled up like pancakes and when I see them with BRS you can forget it…they are goin within a day it seems.

I would echo that. I owned a REMOS GX (similar to CTLS) before my SR22, these LSAs sip fuel, have BRS and the maintenance cost over 5 years was less than 25% of my Cirrus.

I needed the additional capability, therefore I’m now a happy SR22 owner. But these small 2 seaters are fun to operate. A low cost C172 will need more maintenance, also less than a Cirrus.


You got a super deal. Those times have sailed. I passively looked for a G2 around the same price range and all I got are turds and hence I gave up looking. Nowadays good G2 rarely come into the market and if they do, depending on TTAF and hours on the engine sell between $240k - $270k. Now this is what I have seen and maybe I have not been looking at the right place or people.

I’ve looked at G2 for many years, especially the 2006 model. A great ship that was 230k slowing kept climbing to 260-270 range. Ever year the ship got older but the prices kept going up. So much so, that for the difference, I moved up to a G3 Perspective and I’m glad I did. The $70k difference at that point was worth it to me because no matter how you upgrade a G2 (and it’s a great airplane) it will never have some of the features of a G3. Even if I spent the same 70K on a dream panel, I still would have a G2 lacking, TOGA, YD, lighter Wing, more fuel capacity, etc, etc.

If you are worried about mid-air collisions and structural failure (unless maybe you include the engine) you are looking at some really low likelihood events that are probably not worth wasting bandwidth on. Especially if you are a conscientious pilot and fly a well maintained airframe. As far as fixing a problem, the fatal accident rate of the 172 is one of the best in the piston world and without a parachute still statistically safer than the Cirrus with a parachute at around 0.56 fatals per 100K hours at least per this article. If it makes you feel better, go for it. If you are trying to solve a real problem, that same amount of money spent on regular and real training as well as just flying regularly, is probably a better use of the money. Otherwise the Cirrus is great airframe, but with any plane comes down to mission, pilot, and money. [;)]

Hi Robby,

I came from owning an earlier model Cessna 172, before getting into a fractional ownership on a SR22 and then moving up to (did y’all catch that? [;)]) our current 100% owned SR20. My 172 would glide forever, land anywhere and was built like a tank. A stiff headwind would push it backwards, but it was a great plane overall.

Remember, the Cirrus has the parachute because it isn’t allowed/certified to spin. I don’t think it’s so much that a 172 needs a CAPS system to be as safe as a Cirrus, but that a Cirrus needs CAPS to be as safe as a 172. Of course adding on any safety device would be a plus, but I personally wouldn’t have used money for a CAPS on my 172. I would’ve used that money to do upgrades to the avionics or some speed mods.

One more option:

I think you will get some heat for saying this, which I do not believe is true. A Cirrus is a far safer aircraft that a C172. I fly both, and in fact put in more C172/182 time than Cirrus during many months as a CFI.

Indeed, a C172 is easier to land off field given the lower stall speed and more robust landing gear.

But the overall safety stats are there for all to see.

Agreed, Shyam. I’ve flown both extensively over 25 years and feel just as safe in either plane.

"Remember, the Cirrus has the parachute because it isn’t allowed/certified to spin. I don’t think it’s so much that a 172 needs a CAPS system to be as safe as a Cirrus, but that a Cirrus needs CAPS to be as safe as a 172."

I was speaking to the rationale that a Cirrus needs CAPS to be as safe as a 172, when it comes to surviving inadvertent spins.

You need to be more specific. I read that you are saying that a 172 is safer because it is certified for spins. Is that what you’re saying? Not sure what the data says about that…EASA spun the cirrus over 60 times before certifying it.

Not sure what that stats are but I would think that not many planes would survive a base to final spin at 400 ft agl - even if it is rated for it.

I guess my point was not clear. The OP asked if adding a CAPS system to a 172 would be a cost/safety beneficial add on. I was merely pointing out, in case he didn’t know, that the Cirrus has a CAPS system not only for life saving protection available in case of midair collisions, but also because the FAA allowed Cirrus to forego spin/recovery testing:

“Dating back to the first conception of the Cirrus SR20, the aircraft was intended to come equipped with CAPS. Because of this, Cirrus designed a special kind of “spin resistant” wing (or leading edge cuff), which makes it more difficult for the plane to enter a spin, and thus, more difficult to recover from one. The FAA accepted the parachute as a sufficient mode of spin recovery and complete spin testing was not required. However, in 2004, Cirrus completed a limited series of spin recovery tests to meet European Safety Agency requirements, and no unusual characteristics were found.”

I was simply pointing out that one of the, if not the most important reason that a Cirrus has a CAPS system is because it is mandatory. I wouldn’t recommend putting one on a 172, when there are many more useful places to use that money in an early model 172. The BRS system for the 172 costs approx $15k plus installation, which I understand is 40+ hours. Spending $20,000+ on a 172 worth $35k to $50k is not going to get you the most safety bang for your buck, IMHO

Erica, I think you have the logic backwards. The Klapmeiers put in the chute because of their personal belief that it was a life-saving innovation, heavily influenced by the near-death experience of Alan in a mid-air collision. The idea to use the presence of the chute to save money during certification by avoiding the full spin-testing matrix came later. Had the chute not been in the plane, I have no doubt that the SR20 could have been certified anyway, but may have required some additional aerodynamic tweaks (like the Lancair Columbia.)

I’ve also got no doubt that the presence of the chute has been a huge factor in the commercial success of the SR2X - it greatly boosts the Spousal Acceptance Factor.


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Yeah, I could see that. However, still cheaper that an early SR20.

I recall putting a WAAS 430 in my 1982 PA-28 Warrior II. Everyone told me I was crazy because it was so expensive compared to the value of the plane. I can tell you that it sure made approaches easier! When it was time to sell, the plane sold in one day. The same people also told me I was fool for wasting my money on an iPad and a some new software called Foreflight. They LAUGHED IN MY FACE AND MADE FUN OF ME WHEN I CAME IN THE FBO!

Within 12 month the FBO stopped carrying paper charts.

A friend of mine added this to the old saying

Useless things in Aviation:

Fuel in the truck

Runway behind you

Altitude above you

He added "Money in the bank"

Like most of us, I spend a lot of money on recurrent training, WAAS, Foreflight, etc. Aviation is a money pit.

I guess BRS is overkill in a Cessna 172…until it isn’t…

Just my 2 cents.

Are you coming to Migration?!

Truth! I was pointing out some G58 Baron’s last night that were on field in Starkville Miss to my wife and little boy, I said one of these is what we are going to need once we start brining all your buddies on these football trips. She said “it doesn’t have a chute”.

Ha! Yes Tony, airplanes are great at converting money into noise!

We would love to come to migration this year, but 224CD is going to be going on a little adventure at Nexair for awhile [:)] Hopefully, we can make the next one!