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No injuries after Knoxville-based Cirrus Aircraft’s parachute deploys in Colorado collision

The Cirrus Airframe Parachute System is issued as standard equipment in all Cirrus aircraft
Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 6:35 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Two airplanes collided mid-air over Cherry Creek State Park in Colorado, officials said. Despite severe damage to both planes, no injuries were reported.

South Metro Fire Rescue said one plane crashed on the park and the other landed safely at Centennial Airport, just outside of Denver.

One of the planes had a parachute that is designed to help planes safely land in the case of an emergency. It helped the two people inside the Cirrus SR22 involved in the wreck walk away safely.

Witnesses told Denver, Co. CBS affiliate CBS4 reporter Dillon Thomas they are shocked no one was hurt.

“I thought, ‘Is it somebody just jumping out of a plane?’ And then I realized the parachute was attached to a plane,” Shelly Whitehead, a witness recalled to CBS4. “I thought for sure they weren’t going to make it out of there.”

Cirrus Aircraft has its headquarters in Duluth, Minn. but has its Customer Experience Center in East Tennessee next to McGhee Tyson Airport.

Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Ben Kowalski, said safety is the company’s top priority and that all Cirrus aircraft are equipped with its Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) as a standard safety feature.

“From day one, a whole airframe parachute system was going to be integrated into the aircraft. Let me explain how the system works, so inside the aircraft, there’s a red handle above you and either the pilot or a passenger, if needed, can pull that handle. When that handle is pulled a whole airframe parachute is deployed, so a rocket deploys, and it pulls a parachute out of the back of the aircraft, and then the chute deploys, and then it floats down to the ground,” said Kowalski.

Two people inside the SR22 survived the crash Wednesday without injuries.

“We’re so thankful and grateful that everyone yesterday involved was able to return safely home to their families, but you know Cirrus aircraft has been doing this for more than 20 years every airplane we’ve ever built comes standard with a whole airframe parachute system. And today, you know, 211 people. Over the past two decades have been returned safely to their families, because of the airframe parachute system,” added Kowalski.

Kowalski said every customer who buys one of its planes comes through the Knoxville Cirrus Aircraft location to train and fly home in their aircraft.

“People from all over the world, from more than 60 countries throughout the entire world, come right here to Knoxville, Tennessee, to pick up their aircraft, they receive training here at the Vision Center, whether in their SR, or in their Vision Jet. We also have a factory service center here so over the course of the last five years we’ve expanded to four buildings right here on the McGhee Tyson airport, and we keep growing,” he said.

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