Cirrus aircraft are now available with "flight into known icing" (FIKI) capability. That’s a great feature. I’ve written before, however, that Cirrus is asking for trouble with its marketing. Cirrus sells the feature as one that both enhances safety and increases the aircraft’s utility. But Cirrus can’t have it both ways. If a
Updated February 12:
A Cirrus SR-20 single engine aircraft collided with a Pawnee tow plane that was pulling a glider. The Cirrus reportedly ran into the Pawnee’s tow line. The Pawnee crashed and the pilot was killed. The occupants of the Cirrus were also killed. The glider pilot, however, recognized the impending collision, released his aircraft from the tow line, and landed without injury to himself or his two
Cory Lidle’s wife and Tyler Stanger’s family are suing Cirrus Design, alleging that a problem with the plane’s flight controls caused Lidle and Stanger’s plane to crash into a Manhattan hi-rise.
Miles O’Brien, a former CNN correspondent, calls the lawsuit frivolous, because the NTSB concluded the cause was pilot error. According to O’Brien, "in our litigious society, the facts don’t matter for much."
The Cirrus is a “new generation” aircraft loaded with safety features. For example, if a pilot flying after dark gets too close to a ridge line, the Cirrus’ on-board Terrain Awareness Warning System generates a voice urging him to “Pull Up! Pull Up!” The plane’s wings secrete fluid that helps prevent them from icing up in poor weather. The cockpit has airbags, and its seats protect the passengers in a crash by absorbing 26 times the force of gravity. The Cirrus is the only aircraft of its kind that comes with a rocket propelled parachute that can shoot out of the back of the plane in an emergency. Partly as a result of all its safety features, the Cirrus has become the most popular general aviation aircraft, with sales surpassing long-time industry leaders Cessna, Beechcraft, and Piper.
Critics, however, say that the aircraft has a lousy safety record, with a fatal accident rate significantly higher than the “old style” Cessnas and Beechcrafts. They say that the Cirrus, made mostly of fiberglass rather than the traditional aluminum, is not crashworthy. Not only does the