Cirrus Robb's "Best Of Best"

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The Robb Report, which reports "on issues and trends affecting the affluent market," chose to place the Cirrus SR 22 at the top of the heap for personal aircraft, above all other light aircraft, in its Best of the Best 2003 issue. "Our editors selected the Cirrus SR22 because of its exceptional safety system, exceptional performance capabilities, cockpit technology and cabin comfort," said editorial director Brett Anderson. We like the leather, too, but that blanket endorsement of the "safety system," meaning, of course, the whole-plane parachute, belies a safety record that is not presently near the best of the best. There have been six fatal crashes among the 700 or so aircraft in the fleet and numerous other non-fatal accidents and incidents, including one where the pilot claimed to be unable to deploy the chute. The chute-deployment problem was subsequently fixed under an AD. And although all the fatal accidents appeared to be the sole responsibility of the pilot, Cirrus was concerned enough about the safety record to launch a study of its own on whether pilot complacency, in a high-tech aircraft that places fewer demands on pilots, played a role in the crashes. So, far there's no word on the results of the study but we'll pass them along when we get them.