In-Flight Testing Not Necessary for Cirrus SF50 CAPS

Cirrus Aircraft is close to having its new SF50 Vision Jet receive full airworthiness certifications without ever having to perform an in-flight test of its aircraft parachute recovery system.  In the past the FAA has regarded the Cirrus Aircraft Parachute System (CAPS) as an essential safety feature for all Cirrus planes.  That being said, the FAA may not require an in-flight test of the CAPS system for Cirrus’ newest aircraft due to the unnecessary risk and costs.

Although the FAA will likely bypass in flight testing for the SF50 Vision Jet CAPS, Cirrus actually had to change the installation area.  In previous Cirrus planes such as the SR-22, the CAPS has deployed from the top of the cabin above the passenger seat.  However, the SF50 has its CAPS installed in the nose of the aircraft in order to avoid interfering with the engine inlet.

The original CAPS was designed by BRS Aerospace on behalf of Cirrus Aircraft in 1995, and the system is still used in Cirrus Aircraft to this day.  Essentially, CAPS ensures the safety of pilots in worst case scenarios by launching an immense parachute so that the entire aircraft will float to the ground.  Since its inception, CAPS has been activated nearly 74 times and is responsible for saving over 100 lives.  However it is important to note that CAPS must be activated within predefined parameters in order to function properly.

According to the

“CAPS is a truly remarkable safety innovation. But every new and innovative device requires training to master. CAPS is about more than just pulling a handle. It takes training and a safety-first mindset to make CAPS deployment an instinctual act in situations where you have lost control of the airplane. To support our pilot community, we have developed a wide range of reference materials and training resources. That is why we recommend recurrent training that includes CAPS deployment scenarios as an area of focus every twelve months.”

Although CAPs has been adopted by every plane in the Cirrus Aircraft line as well a select few Cessna planes, the general aviation industry as a whole has been rather slow to adopt CAPS.   Many experienced pilots either have older aircraft or don’t see a need for CAPS, but the fact of the matter is that every pilot can benefit from having CAPS during an emergency.


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