“Chute happens. Live with it.” This is on a bumper sticker handed out by the Cirrus Design at AOPA Expo. One of the things that sets Cirrus apart from other aircraft is the built-in parachute from Ballistic Recovery Systems. This can be a double-edged sword, noted Alan Klapmeier, Cirrus co-founder, because some people in the non-aviation media seem to infer that a parachute allows pilots to take greater risks, which result in crashes.
Klapmeier noted that the company has been answering a lot of questions about the safety record of the aircraft lately, given recent accidents that have made the news.
“Safety as an issue is easily misunderstood,” said Klapmeier during AOPA Expo. “We have to rethink the culture of aviation training. Instead of how quickly can a person solo, it should be how safe are they when they solo.”
Although most press conferences tend to be strictly upbeat, with executives talking about the successes of their companies, Klapmeier insisted on first speaking about the recent accidents involving Cirrus aircraft, noting in particular the Cory Lidle crash in New York City in October. Lidle and his flight instructor were killed while flying in a VFR corridor. Their Cirrus crashed into a high-rise building while they were trying to make a 180° turn.
“The accident shows what happens when the pilot it more worried about airspace than flying safely,” said Klapmeier, referring to the speculation that Lidle was trying to avoid encroaching into Class B airspace. “If anything good will come out of that accident, it is that it shows that small aircraft are not a security risk because they don’t have enough energy to do lots of damage.”
On a more positive note, Klapmeier noted that the 3,000th Cirrus was rolling off the assembly line — and he was buying it for himself. “And they didn’t give me a special deal,” he said with a grin.
It used to be that when you purchased a Cirrus the only color available was white. That has now changed with the introduction of the Cirrus Sterling Signature edition. Company officials noted that a lot of work went into developing a silver paint that would work with a composite aircraft. An SR22 sporting the shiny new paint job gleamed in the southern California sun.
For pilots who are looking for more performance from their aircraft, Cirrus also introduced the new SR22 and SR22 turbocharged aircraft.
Cirrus continues to increase its reach. According to John Bingham, vp of sales and marketing, international sales have increased from 4% of total sales in 2002 to 27% today. Domestically, the company has become a favorite of flight schools.
Bingham used the Palm Springs event to announce that Delta Connection Academy, a subsidiary of Delta Airlines, had purchased 50 Cirrus SR20s for use in its flight school. Delivery of the first aircraft is slated for this month.
For more information: