UPDATE: Ok, as of late this afternoon, now I know what Cirrus is thinking. See end of story...
Far below the radar, Cirrus has apparently been making its own airframe parachute systems since May this year...
The trademark Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), shown above in an actual deployment (from the Cirrus website) and which recently saved lives in both the UK (SR20) and in Virginia (SR22), is now apparently being built internally by Cirrus.
Until May, the chutes were built by BRS, the company that has the only certified chutes in the market, a company that has become synonymous with the term, whole airframe parachute. To date, BRS says it has "saved" 257 lives, almost 1/4 of which have been in Cirrus aircraft.
I was talking to Cirrus last week (see associated story in Flight International) about the SF50 personal jet, and was told about the progress being made on a new 2-stage CAPS for the 6,000lb jet.
I "presumed" that BRS was the vendor of the new chute and left them a phone a message to get the scoop directly from the horse's mouth, so to speak.
The call came back just today, and from none other than Boris Popov, founder of BRS.
"We've severed all reations with Cirrus for a variety of reason," said Popov, not wanting to get into more detail. "Cirrus is a great aircraft company, and why they've chosen to go into the parachute business to compete against the company that builds these is an odd thing to do."
Popov, who has shipped about 4,500 airframe parachutes to Cirrus for the SR20 and SR22, said he stopped shipping the airframe chutes to Cirrus in May. He hinted that legal proceedings may be the works, as "they sure have a lot of parallel technologies all of the sudden...."
What does Cirrus say?
I spoke with Chief Operating Officer Patrick Waddick late this afternoon. He says Cirrus has a good amount of intellectual property related to the CAPS, and the company owns the rocket facility in Colorado that makes the portion of the system that ejects the chute out the back of the aircraft. Other elements of the parachute were made by subcontractors and integrated at BRS. That work is now being done at Cirrus.
Waddick: "As we looked at a variety of different things for [SF50] jet, and packing for SR20 and SR22, we realized that we were developing more capability in-house" than BRS was coming up with in its own research and development work.
"There's a tremendous engineering capability within Cirrus," said Waddick. "...For the jet, more sophistication was needed."