The Impact of CAPS
It is reasonable to ask, "Does CAPS reduce serious (fatal) accidents? Is it really a life saver?" There is little doubt about this and this section of WhyCirrus looks at this question further.
The diagram to the right clearly shows the connection between CAPS use and reductions in serious accidents. Note that 2011 information shows a spike in accident rates and a particularly low level of CAPS usage.
More information on how CAPS has been used is available at cirrusaircraft.com/CAPS.
Types of Serious Accidents
Obviously, not all serious accidents can be avoided with CAPS. Incidents close to the ground, for example (including takeoff and landing accidents), are not CAPS candidates.
It is sometimes presented that, broadly speaking, about 50% of potentially-serious accidents could be candidates for CAPS use.
The graph to the right shows that Cirrus pilots are increasingly aware of CAPS and its life-saving potential in appropriate situations.
The magenta line shows how many accidents could be candidates for CAPS use, the green line how often CAPS is actually used.
A developing understanding
Over the past decade CAPS has been extensively discussed and has been viewed by some as controversial. Even Cirrus owners were caught up in the mass discussion and this may have affected, despite training, CAPS use.
There is no longer any controversy. CAPS is a legitimate life-saving option for Cirrus pilots. This maturation process, with continued focus from Cirrus and a significant effort by the Cirrus owner group, COPA, has resulted in CAPS being "front and center" in difficult situations.
This shows up in higher use of CAPS. In 2013, Cirrus has identified only one serious accident where CAPS might have made a difference.