Loss of control during serious light aircraft emergencies can make it impossible to attempt a crash landing and exiting the plane isn't usually a viable option. The solution: provide a parachute that caters for the entire plane allowing those aboard to survive impact while remaining in their seats. The Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) is rocket-deployed from its location behind the cabin's aft baggage bulkhead and acts to decelerate and lower the aircraft when all alternatives to land have been exhausted.Featured on the Cirrus SR22, a four-seater, single-engine low-wing airplane with fixed tricycle landing gear, CAPS is activated when either the pilot or passenger removes a cover and pulls a T-shaped handle located on the ceiling of the cabin. A magnesium charge ignites the small solid-fuel rocket that deploys the parachute canopy from its canister. The canopy inflates in seconds and positioning of the forward and aft parachute harness lines provide an approximately level attitude and a stable rate of descent. A final level of safety id provided by specialised landing gear, a 3g roll cage and 26g seats that reduce the impact - likened to falling 10ft - for a survivable landing.The CAPS system has only been used once in a genuine field emergency and according to Cirrus Aircraft Australian Director Steve Maltby, the plane sustained considerable damage, but the (fully-insured) owner walked away with a smile on his face, happy to be alive.For further information on CAPS visit www.cirrusdesign.com and for Australian availability details on the Cirrus SR22 visit www.cirrusaircraft.com.au.
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