Executives of Duluth-based aircraft manufacturer Cirrus Aircraft tell the News Tribune more owners of its planes are using a life-saving technology that comes standard on its airplanes.
To date, the company's parachute system -- designed to bring the whole plane safely to the ground -- has saved nearly 70 people.
However, another 188 people have died in fatal Cirrus crashes, but company officials say the vast majority of those fatal accidents could have been avoided if pilots had activated the emergency chute.
“I can’t begin to describe the absolute frustration we feel, realizing that the outcome of an incident should have been a cell phone call home saying, ‘Honey, I’m going to be late for dinner,’ instead of a sheriff knocking at the door,” Bill King, the company’s vice president of business administration, told the newspaper. “It’s extremely frustrating to see families in absolute agony and crisis for no good reason.”
Cirrus is on pace to unveil its long-awaited lightweight personal jet within the next two years. About 525 people have ordered the jet, which will sell for nearly $2 million.