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Cirrus Airframe Parachute System and Odds of a Fatal Accident in Cirrus Aircraft Crashes

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INTRODUCTION: General aviation (GA) accidents have continued to demonstrate high fatality rates. Recently, ballistic parachute recovery systems (BPRS) have been introduced as a safety feature in some GA aircraft. This study evaluates the effectiveness and associated factors of the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) at reducing the odds of a fatal accident in Cirrus aircraft crashes.

METHODS: Publicly available Cirrus aircraft crash reports were obtained from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) database for the period of January 1, 2001–December 31, 2016. Accident metrics were evaluated through univariate and multivariate analyses regarding odds of a fatal accident and use of the parachute system.

RESULTS: Included in the study were 268 accidents. For CAPS nondeployed accidents, 82 of 211 (38.9%) were fatal as compared to 8 of 57 (14.0%) for CAPS deployed accidents. After controlling for all other factors, the adjusted odds ratio for a fatal accident when CAPS was not deployed was 13.1.

DISCUSSION: The substantial increased odds of a fatal accident when CAPS was not deployed demonstrated the effectiveness of CAPS at providing protection of occupants during an accident. Injuries were shifted from fatal to serious or minor with the use of CAPS and postcrash fires were significantly reduced. These results suggest that BPRS could play a significant role in the next major advance in improving GA accident survival.

Alaziz M, Stolfi A, Olson DM. Cirrus Airframe Parachute System and odds of a fatal accident in Cirrus aircraft crashes. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2017; 88(6):556–564.
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Keywords: Cirrus Airframe Parachute System; accident survival; ballistic parachute recovery system; general aviation accidents; post-crash fire

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2017

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  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

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