Debunking The Cirrus Accidents Myth

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An article recently printed by the Examiner.com takes critical aim at Cirrus Design, picking from a recent NTSB report regarding the Cory Lidle crash in New York city and citing crash statistics it says give the SR20 and SR22 a "spotty record." While the article notes that Lidle had time in type that most insurers would find anemic and that the NTSB cited he was not trained by nor was he flying with a Cirrus qualified instructor, it adds that the SR20 and 22 have suffered "more than 40 incidents [in sum] since 2001." As is often the case in the popular press, the Examiner’s article fails to put its reporting in context. Exhaustive research by AVweb sister publications Aviation Safety and Aviation Consumer found that the Cirrus fleet has a relatively good overall accident record – 4.1 accidents per 100,000 hours versus 6.2 for the entire GA fleet. The Cirrus fleet fatal accident rate is 1.4 per 100,000 hours, only slightly higher than the GA average of 1.2. In its upcoming March 2007 issue, Aviation Safety reports that the Cirrus fleet accident pattern is quite different from airplanes of like performance and it also finds that the Cirrus owners group is having a profound effect on improving training for new owners.

Referencing a recent promotional mailer sent by Cirrus to Maryland residents, the Examiner article also states, "Despite at least 42 deaths involving these planes, the company continues to market the aircraft as if they are as easy to drive as a car." When contacted for comment, Cirrus Vice President of Business Administration Bill King told AVweb, "We have made a business out of designing and manufacturing the safest aircraft in the world in our class." He didn't stop there. "When our aircraft are used in accordance with the proper training and within the design standards, we believe they represent a new standard for efficient and safe flight," said King. Regardless of either position, there are more than a few people who attribute their lives to the full-plane emergency parachute system provided aboard Cirrus' aircraft. And speaking specifically of the Lidle crash, "The NTSB is the only entity that should be commenting upon the probable cause of any incident and they will in time use the information … to derive a probable cause," said King. "We clearly understand this role of the NTSB and await their comments."