Cirrus SR20 Accident Orcutt CA May 20, 2020

jrh

Well-Known Member
Never flown a Cirrus. What is the absolute lowest AGL altitude you can be to pull the chute, as in have it deployed fully, and right then make contact with the ground?
About 500-600 AGL is the demonstrated, proven altitude from flight testing. It depends on the model year. Newer aircraft (I think about 2014 or 2015) need a slightly higher altitude, closer to 600 AGL, because they have a higher max gross weight and correspondingly larger parachute system.

The altitude loss also varies based on aircraft attitude and airspeed. Upright, wings level, with reasonable forward airspeed, as you probably know, is optimal. The system will work in a wide spectrum of conditions, but requires more altitude if the aircraft is spinning, inverted, or in a steep dive.

All of this being said, there have been successful deployments as low as a couple hundred feet. Although I chalk those up more to good luck than anything else. The system isn't designed or tested to work that low.
 

BigZ

Well-Known Member
Some valid points in this thread. I’m not an expert but a CFI with time in various SR22s.

I want to make two points that people outside of the Cirrus community aren’t familiar with:
  1. The training is, hands down, the best in the GA environment. Cirrus pays for a 3-day transition with Cirrus certified instructor whether you buy new or used - phenomenal really. Let’s see other manufacturers do that. It’s extremely standardized, taking many items from the 121 environment.
  2. The parachute has saved many lives (roughly 200 pulls off the top of my head). Flying a piston single is much safer with it. There is no downside to having one except cost but if you’re flying a Cirrus you can afford a repack every 10 years. Yes I’d rather pull the chute at 500’ AGL with an engine out then try to find a landing, it’s much safer.
People who • on the parachute are idiots. You can fly an IFR approach with an NBD but why wouldn’t you take a G1000? It’s just safer. Same with a piston single without a parachute compared to a Cirrus.
Admittedly my time in Sr22 is limited and instead of the fancy course I got the "alright, let's take this thing back to MCO." "Mkay, you know how to fly it?" "No, but don't you have one?" "I've got a Diamond. Whole nuther animal." "Huh.. can you figure it out? I haven't flown pistons in years".
Naturally, first introduction to Cirrus was the door popping open on take off, but the runway I took off from wasn't long enough for me to think I can comfortably land there to close it and thunderstorms were rolling into Orlando, so we had to hurry.
Flew it a couple of times after that, to get familiar and whatnot, didn't like how the engine behaved (1000 hrs since new, completely effed by the previous pilot running it at 85% all the time), refused to fly it until someone took a good hard look at it, then it blew a cylinder on someone else's takeoff, went into a shop and that was that. After that I only gave an IPC in one once.
So, very limited.
With that said, I hated the spring loaded side yoke coupled to aerodynamically balanced controls. Zero feedback on that thing to what's happening.
Engine choice - it's a good engine if you know what you're doing, and most people don't, especially in the beginning (some never). Its a lot to manage for a weekend warrior.
Chute is nice as a concept, but I would go as far as declare the airplane being great. I also hated the avidyne. Garmin was nicer.
 

ahw01

Well-Known Member
Admittedly my time in Sr22 is limited and instead of the fancy course I got the "alright, let's take this thing back to MCO." "Mkay, you know how to fly it?" "No, but don't you have one?" "I've got a Diamond. Whole nuther animal." "Huh.. can you figure it out? I haven't flown pistons in years".
Naturally, first introduction to Cirrus was the door popping open on take off, but the runway I took off from wasn't long enough for me to think I can comfortably land there to close it and thunderstorms were rolling into Orlando, so we had to hurry.
Flew it a couple of times after that, to get familiar and whatnot, didn't like how the engine behaved (1000 hrs since new, completely effed by the previous pilot running it at 85% all the time), refused to fly it until someone took a good hard look at it, then it blew a cylinder on someone else's takeoff, went into a shop and that was that. After that I only gave an IPC in one once.
So, very limited.
With that said, I hated the spring loaded side yoke coupled to aerodynamically balanced controls. Zero feedback on that thing to what's happening.
Engine choice - it's a good engine if you know what you're doing, and most people don't, especially in the beginning (some never). Its a lot to manage for a weekend warrior.
Chute is nice as a concept, but I would go as far as declare the airplane being great. I also hated the avidyne. Garmin was nicer.
Agreed. His point on G1000 being safer is nuts. Depends on the pilot operating it. Same for the parachute...

Glad I'm not that indoctrinated...
 

SlumTodd_Millionaire

Evil Landlord Capitalist
Some valid points in this thread. I’m not an expert but a CFI with time in various SR22s.

I want to make two points that people outside of the Cirrus community aren’t familiar with:
  1. The training is, hands down, the best in the GA environment. Cirrus pays for a 3-day transition with Cirrus certified instructor whether you buy new or used - phenomenal really. Let’s see other manufacturers do that. It’s extremely standardized, taking many items from the 121 environment.
  2. The parachute has saved many lives (roughly 200 pulls off the top of my head). Flying a piston single is much safer with it. There is no downside to having one except cost but if you’re flying a Cirrus you can afford a repack every 10 years. Yes I’d rather pull the chute at 500’ AGL with an engine out then try to find a landing, it’s much safer.
People who • on the parachute are idiots. You can fly an IFR approach with an NBD but why wouldn’t you take a G1000? It’s just safer. Same with a piston single without a parachute compared to a Cirrus.
Look, I’m not anti-parachute, and I think it seems to be a nice plane, but you lose me when you say pulling a chute is safer when losing an engine at 500 ft than just landing. Sure, it CAN be, depending on the circumstances, but in many cases that sounds like pretty piss-poor airmanship. There aren’t many airports I can think of where I don’t have a suitable landing spot to glide to safely if I lose an engine on takeoff. That’s particularly true when flying GA and lots of the airports are out in the burbs or country with no dense population surrounding them. If you can’t safely put a plane down in a field, you’ve got bigger problems.
 

jrh

Well-Known Member
Look, I’m not anti-parachute, and I think it seems to be a nice plane, but you lose me when you say pulling a chute is safer when losing an engine at 500 ft than just landing. Sure, it CAN be, depending on the circumstances, but in many cases that sounds like pretty piss-poor airmanship. There aren’t many airports I can think of where I don’t have a suitable landing spot to glide to safely if I lose an engine on takeoff. That’s particularly true when flying GA and lots of the airports are out in the burbs or country with no dense population surrounding them. If you can’t safely put a plane down in a field, you’ve got bigger problems.
This gets brought up a lot by pilots transitioning into the Cirrus. Here's the problem with this way of thinking...

It's nothing more than a numbers game. After the engine fails at 600 AGL, you might have an 80% chance of gliding it to a survivable landing. Maybe you're really good and you have a 90% chance, I don't know.

But the parachute, when operated within it's design parameters for altitude and airspeed, has proven to return the aircraft to earth with a nearly 100% chance of no fatalities. So why are you choosing to do something with a 80% success rate when you could choose a nearly 100% chance of success?

You see it all the time in accident reports. VFR day, flat terrain, engine failure occurs, everything should have been fine, but the pilot didn't see those power lines, or drainage ditch, or they came up short, or came in high and fast and hit trees at the end, or whatever.

When a pilot only has one chance to get it right, the odds with a parachute almost always beat out the human pilot.

Considering the parachute needs 500 feet to work, having an engine failure at 500 feet AGL is the most critical scenario when the pilot should be deploying it with zero hesitation. They shouldn't be trying to analyze anything, because by the time they do, they'll have sunk outside the operating envelope of the parachute and now they're stuck with gliding it in, even if there's no suitable landing site.
 

Nark

Macho Superpilot
Now don't get me wrong, cirrus pilots think they are 737 pilots and use up all available runway when landing, and takeoff is little better, but @SlumTodd_Millionaire I have to call you out by saying that most airports have suitable landing area's.
My home airport:
Screen Shot 2020-05-22 at 7.58.23 AM.png

San Diego's Montgomery and Gillespie fields, I got my first 1000 hours or so:
Screen Shot 2020-05-22 at 8.09.03 AM.png
Screen Shot 2020-05-22 at 8.09.29 AM.png


There are airports in the middle of nowhere, that have great options; but in my experience there are roughy 0 airports in the world I've been to where I would rather chance my superior airmanship, rather than pull the chute, (if I was ever a wussy Cirrus pilot), should I find myself in that situation.

I used to desire to save the plane, but I really don't care If I write it off, as long as I, and my passengers survive.


And of course:
 

NovemberEcho

Dergs favorite member
Same reason, for decades, we‘ve told people “hit the deer and drive straight forward.” So many STILL choose the immovable tree or rock ledge. You’ll almost certainly survive the deer; the big tree or rock ledge is a LOT more “iffy.”

Choose the most safe option when you can.
I hit a deer square on at 45mph in my S10. Flipped him up and over my hood. Bastard got up and ran off like nothing happened.
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
  1. The parachute has saved many lives (roughly 200 pulls off the top of my head). Flying a piston single is much safer with it. There is no downside to having one except cost but if you’re flying a Cirrus you can afford a repack every 10 years. Yes I’d rather pull the chute at 500’ AGL with an engine out then try to find a landing, it’s much safer.
Interesting tidbit: BRS aerospace - who makes the chute - has about 400 saves, according to an AOPA article this month. It's not just a Cirrus thing.

All of this being said, there have been successful deployments as low as a couple hundred feet. Although I chalk those up more to good luck than anything else. The system isn't designed or tested to work that low.
I don't remember how high the guys in FDK were when they had the mid-air with the helicopter - pattern alt there is 1300' MSL if I recall correctly...they walked away from it, though.

But the parachute, when operated within it's design parameters for altitude and airspeed, has proven to return the aircraft to earth with a nearly 100% chance of no fatalities. So why are you choosing to do something with a 80% success rate when you could choose a nearly 100% chance of success?

When a pilot only has one chance to get it right, the odds with a parachute almost always beat out the human pilot.

Considering the parachute needs 500 feet to work, having an engine failure at 500 feet AGL is the most critical scenario when the pilot should be deploying it with zero hesitation. They shouldn't be trying to analyze anything, because by the time they do, they'll have sunk outside the operating envelope of the parachute and now they're stuck with gliding it in, even if there's no suitable landing site.
This is where I have altered my thinking a bit. Like @Nark , my home airport (JYO) is in a populated area. If we lose an engine at 500' AGL going off Rwy 17, we've got a decent chance of making a field or, worst option, landing on the Dulles Greenway.

Going off 35, it's going to end, if you're lucky, in some pretty tall trees. If you make 800-1000' AGL and you turned early enough, there's a strip of field you might make if you're really, really lucky.

In my limited time as a CFI, I've seen a few hair-raising things that have sometimes made me look wistfully across the field at the Cirrus guys - won't lie.

But, I've got just enough time FLYING the SR-22 to respect it as a good IFR XC machine and dislike it just as an airplane. It's a good appliance for going places, but I don't find it particularly fun or enjoyable to fly.
 

Richman

Well-Known Member
Flew it a couple of times after that, to get familiar and whatnot, didn't like how the engine behaved (1000 hrs since new, completely effed by the previous pilot running it at 85% all the time), refused to fly it until someone took a good hard look at it, then it blew a cylinder on someone else's takeoff, went into a shop and that was that.
It's not how hard you run your engine, it's how you run your engine hard. 85% is nothing to fear.
 

Richman

Well-Known Member
Lyc io360 - yup
Conti 550 - eeeeehhhh
That particular one was blowing oil into all 6 jugs at 1000 snew
Good engine management and proactive MX with large bore Contis are the key. Keep the CHTs below 390, boroscopes of the exhaust valves at 100 hour intervals, monitor the engine data, and good, hard, frequent running and I've seen many go past TBO on 1st run set of cylinders, all run LOP.

Roast the cylinders, run the engine ROP right in the area of maximum intracylinder pressure, and yea, you reap what you sow.
 

ahw01

Well-Known Member
There are no circumstances where it should be pulled.
You can buy one of those Cessna Corvalis Lancairs - which to me was always a more desirable airplane than the Cirrus (based on scanned articles and looks only).
id rather jump in a t-6 Texan and wear a parachute to be fair...
 

WacoFan

Bigly
I mean, people have found ways to kill themselves in Ercoupes. The Cirrus seems to be a pretty high performance machine that is typical of the "Doctor Killer" category - lower time pilots getting too much airplane for their current skill. Combine that with the BRS which would appeal to pilots with an internal dialogue of "Well...flying is risky and I'm not totally confident but I have a chute so that's a good thing!" (Which some not small cohort of Ercoupe pilots I've known have a variation on that theme). So, all in all I think the chute system is great. I think it would be great particularly in high performance aerobatic airplanes (because the idea of ripping off a wing scares me and as strong as composites are I'm not really sure you can exam them and tell if/when they are going to break). The Cirrus chute in my opinion should be taught, but not at the expense of the things you'd learn in a non-chute equipped airplane.

Of course all the airplanes discussed are trash because of nosewheels. (Although the much maligned Ercoupe is actually remarkably fun. Not something I'd want to own unless it was a gimme - but they can be fun to cruise somewhere with the side windows down (making it in effect a Targa top) and grab a burger or BBQ).
 

ahw01

Well-Known Member
I mean, people have found ways to kill themselves in Ercoupes. The Cirrus seems to be a pretty high performance machine that is typical of the "Doctor Killer" category - lower time pilots getting too much airplane for their current skill. Combine that with the BRS which would appeal to pilots with an internal dialogue of "Well...flying is risky and I'm not totally confident but I have a chute so that's a good thing!" (Which some not small cohort of Ercoupe pilots I've known have a variation on that theme). So, all in all I think the chute system is great. I think it would be great particularly in high performance aerobatic airplanes (because the idea of ripping off a wing scares me and as strong as composites are I'm not really sure you can exam them and tell if/when they are going to break). The Cirrus chute in my opinion should be taught, but not at the expense of the things you'd learn in a non-chute equipped airplane.

Of course all the airplanes discussed are trash because of nosewheels. (Although the much maligned Ercoupe is actually remarkably fun. Not something I'd want to own unless it was a gimme - but they can be fun to cruise somewhere with the side windows down (making it in effect a Targa top) and grab a burger or BBQ).
I'm working on tailwheel if you have a good suggestion. They don't need a parachute, all their problems occur on the ground...
 
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