Weather was IMC when the aircraft took off and a door popped open. The pilot attempted to close it and unfortunately, lost control of the aircraft. Before the inevitable happened however, he pulled the parachute and the Cirrus drifted safely down into a neighborhood. There were no injuries and only minor damage to a vehicle.
There was some email traffic that was predictably critical of the pilot letting a door get the best of him. There were also some negative comments about the need for parachutes on aircraft. It might be characterized as, “Come back with your shield or on it” as was told to ancient Greek warriors. Perhaps the idea is that “real” pilots don’t need parachutes. Follow that line of thinking – perhaps we shouldn’t be putting ejection seats into military aircraft. I would like to think that we aren’t becoming quite that judgmental.
Cirrus Aircraft should be admired for the innovation they’ve brought to the market. However, I have also reminded the company marketing and management that despite all the neat things they have built into the machine, all aircraft have to be treated like chainsaws. Not many people misunderstand a chainsaw. “The great airplane chainsaw massacre.”
Stereotyping pilots who fly a particular model as being less capable is a statistically open question. In the Technologically Advanced Aircraft report we did a few years ago there were some areas that stood out. Open doors was not one of them. Weather entanglements were and the parachute did save some lives.
One additional thought on design: Low fuel warning lights have done a remarkable job of reducing fuel mismanagement accidents. Maybe it’s time we put a door annunciator into the MFD. You can’t buy a car these days without an “open door” light and chime.
Does it work in all circumstances? No. Are pilots who fly these aircraft prone to making more mistakes than those of us flying other models? What do you think?