The principal layers are: aerodynamic and other passive features to protect you from distraction; comfort and information reduce stress and enhance situational awareness; CAPS (the Cirrus parachute) is available if you lose control; and crashworthiness is there when all else fails.
Aerodynamics and Other Passive Features:
Passive features are built into Cirrus aircraft to help with distraction or inattention. A visible example is Cirrus' “discontinuous leading edge” wing to minimize the effects of inadvertent stalls. This is discussed more in the CAPS & Stall/Spin page.
Cirrus also uses a Garmin autopilot that features ESP (Electronic Safety and Protection) that, even when hand-flying, helps to protect you from stalling, over-speeding or otherwise losing control. Again, a passive feature there at all times.
Cirrus' autopilot also monitors you at high altitude and will bring you and your aircraft to a safe altitude in case of hypoxia.
Comfort, Situational Awareness and Stress Reduction:
Making it easy to see where you are and what’s going on around you. A moving map overlaid with NEXRAD and traffic information makes a flight less stressful. This, combined with your Cirrus' comfortable seats, helps keep you alert as you approach your destination.
Beyond this, a good autopilot lets you think things through and makes you better equipped for a safe approach and landing after a long flight.
If you lose control, or if the flight is compromised for any reason, there is a way to recover. Unique to Cirrus, CAPS is discussed in detail in the CAPS & Stall/Spin page.
No one plans to have an accident in an airplane.
But if you do, Cirrus airplanes have a number of features that may contribute to protecting you. People have survived significant accidents in Cirrus airplanes.
Modern composite structures can provide a high level of integrity, with recent regulations demanding very high cockpit standards.
These standards include:
Cockpit Integrity and Occupant Protection
All airplanes designed since the mid-1990s have, by regulation, very high cockpit integrity and occupant protection standards. Seats must stay intact, in place and the cockpit area must be clear up to a horizontal loading of 26Gs; items inside the cabin (baggage tie downs, fire extinguisher, etc.) must not come loose up to an 18G load; and the whole airplane cabin must stay intact in a 3G rollover.
These are very high standards. They are the reason that seats in these modern airplanes do not adjust in all the ways an automobile seat can. Cessna (formerly Columbia) 400 seats, for example, use cushion replacement as a way of adjustment – not elegant at all, but representative of the compromises implicit in these standards.
Prior to the mid-1990s the "18G tie-down” was a 9G standard. Modern designs can appear to have limited baggage, and other, loading limits. If the 9G standard had remained in place that baggage weight allowance, for example, would double.