Two Chutes Deployed, Two Cirrus "Saves"

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

Five Occupants Walk Away Unscathed...

Two pilots activated the ballistic chutes in their Cirrus aircraft late last week and landed safely, one in Canada and the second in south Florida. The two incidents were the second and third time that pilots have deployed the chute; the first was in October 2002. "The CAP [Cirrus Airframe Parachute] system has done its job," Cirrus Design spokesman Randy Bolinger told AVweb Saturday. "They all survived." On Saturday, Jeffrey Ippoliti, 41, of Celebration, Fla., deployed the chute in his SR22 shortly after takeoff from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, landing just six miles north. And Thursday night, Canadian pilot Albert Kolk, 67, and his three passengers walked away after deploying the chute of their SR20 above rugged terrain in British Columbia. The two incidents lend lots of new information to the debate over the usefulness of the chutes, which have had their share of controversy, especially after a few early failures when the chute either apparently would not deploy or for some unknown reason wasn't activated by the pilots. In the May 2004 issue of Aviation Safety (AVweb's sister publication), Ken Ibold writes: "It remains to be seen if [CAPS] provides the kind of last-ditch out the company intends it to be. Military research on ejection seats has found that pilots are much more likely to use ejection seats in the face of an equipment problem than in the case of pilot error. Should that dynamic apply to civilian pilots, it should be noted that about 85 percent of airplane accidents are due to pilot error. That means some Cirrus pilots will not pull the chute despite every indication that they should." It will be a while yet before investigators determine what factors caused the troubles that prompted these pilots to pull the chute, but they did pull, and survived. "Further experience will show if the parachute is as much a safety advance in the real world as it appears to be on paper," Ibold concludes. The May issue of Aviation Safety will be online in about a week. Most content is available to subscribers only, or can be purchased online on a per-article basis.