Chute or Free Fall

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Jim Hardin
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Chute or Free Fall

Postby Jim Hardin » Thu Dec 20, 2018 5:55 pm

AOPA puts little quizzes in their Aviation eBrief's from time to time. A recent one was, "If there were No limitations, would you equip your aircraft with an airframe parachute?"

The 'Yes' were 54%

'No' 41.4%

'I got one's' 4.14%

I was really surprised at the high percentage of those that would not add one.

Now the survey never goes into the number of respondents, demographics and all the other things I would want to see. As a result the sheer numbers cannot really be used as "fact".

Still the 'No's' are high. What might be the thinking here?

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ShawnM
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Re: Chute or Free Fall

Postby ShawnM » Thu Dec 20, 2018 6:19 pm

To quote the late, and amazing Tom Petty, "Free falling, now I'm free falling". :mrgreen:

Those are interesting numbers and certainly intriguing as to the number of no's. I'm a "no" guy myself but would have thought the numbers for "no" would be lower. I'm willing to bet the number one reason for "no" is the added weight that eats up ones useful load. Seems many people complain about the 1320 MTOW and want it higher for one reason or another, like their waistline. :mrgreen: Then maybe it's followed by the added service costs over the years.

Is it a security blanket and could it save your life, signs point to yes. Was it my deciding factor to buy my particular plane, no. When searching for my SportCruiser that was within my budget the plane I happen to find just didn't have one, oh well, I bought it anyway. No regrets. If it had one maybe I'd think differently, who knows.

Interesting topic though Jim, thank for posting.

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Warmi
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Re: Chute or Free Fall

Postby Warmi » Thu Dec 20, 2018 6:26 pm

For LSAs it is a consideration for sure due to added weight, for for a GA plane with gross around 2000-2500 lbs adding 50 or so more lbs is just no brainer.

Give it a few more decades and chutes will be just as common as air bags are in our cars - it is not a matter of IF but when....
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chicagorandy
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Re: Chute or Free Fall

Postby chicagorandy » Thu Dec 20, 2018 7:57 pm

As I tell anyone who will listen - remember that you do NOT need a parachute to sky dive.... you only need a parachute to skydive twice.
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smutny
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Re: Chute or Free Fall

Postby smutny » Fri Dec 21, 2018 9:59 am

I'm a "no" guy as well.

I do wear a chute while flying aerobatics, but it would have to be a total loss of control or fire in order for me to use it. I'd much rather have control of the aircraft all the way to the ground as opposed to ride it in as a passenger.

Secondary issues are weight, initial cost and ongoing maintenance costs. If I really felt uneasy about an aircraft, I'd throw on the chute I have.
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Warmi
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Re: Chute or Free Fall

Postby Warmi » Fri Dec 21, 2018 10:23 am

smutny wrote:I'm a "no" guy as well.

I do wear a chute while flying aerobatics, but it would have to be a total loss of control or fire in order for me to use it. I'd much rather have control of the aircraft all the way to the ground as opposed to ride it in as a passenger.

Secondary issues are weight, initial cost and ongoing maintenance costs. If I really felt uneasy about an aircraft, I'd throw on the chute I have.


So if a wing ( or any other crucial part ) falls off because of maintenance issues, just as it recently did in Florida, you just gonna die because you are a "no" guy ?

I just don't see much logic in it - yeah, if the chute was 300 lbs and a significant risk in itself , I would agree but why not add yourself another option when you are out of options ?
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smutny
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Re: Chute or Free Fall

Postby smutny » Sat Dec 22, 2018 10:03 am

Warmi wrote:So if a wing ( or any other crucial part ) falls off because of maintenance issues, just as it recently did in Florida, you just gonna die because you are a "no" guy ?


That is literally a "one in a million" scenario. When you look at how many millions of flight hours the PA-28 airframe has accomplished and compare it to the fatal wing separation(s), you'd probably have a higher risk of getting struck by lightning that losing a wing on a Piper.

However, aviation is all about risk management, so let's discuss that. If given the opportunity to purchase and fly a PA-28 from ERAU Daytona, would I? No.
- Corrosive ocean environment and known spar join issues (existing service bulletin or AD, don't remember which)
- Student maintained (while there is A&P oversight, many opportunities for issues to slip by)
- Student flown (have you seen the YouTube videos from ERAU students? I highly doubt they own a single airframe that hasn't been over-G limits)


Warmi wrote:I just don't see much logic in it - yeah, if the chute was 300 lbs and a significant risk in itself , I would agree but why not add yourself another option when you are out of options ?


I see no reason to put a BRS in every PA-28 just because of a combination of items that may have contributed to one crash. Overall, structural failure is extremely rare in GA. One must remember BRS was initially developed for ultralights. A realm where sometimes extreme measures were taken to keep aircraft below 254 lbs and there was no maintenance requirements on par with the rest of GA. Also the ability to hop in one without any training at all. From there, they penetrated upwards into the rest of GA.

I sit through Allan Silver's Bailout Seminar fairly regularly as I wear a chute for aerobatics. Over the years the discussion resurfaces if one should bail due to engine failure. With the exception of some extreme terrain examples, it is overwhelmingly safer to stay with the airplane than jump. Even though you do have directional control in a wearable chute, you are safer in the protective structure of the airplane as long as you have control to the landing spot. While this is not a direct apples to apples comparison, it is the reason I feel more confident in choosing a landing point and flying to it vs. being at the mercy of an airframe chute.

Again, it's all about risk management. I don't chide those that must have a BRS in their aircraft. But then again, if I'm in a plane that does have one, it doesn't mean that I will use it, I may choose to land.
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Warmi
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Re: Chute or Free Fall

Postby Warmi » Sat Dec 22, 2018 10:44 am

You are much more experienced than me and every one of your points is 100% on the target.

Yet, my overall point is that having a BRS doesn't negate any of that - you still have all the options ( engine out landings etc ) available to you and a BRS is there as yet another layer of security which is what risk management is ultimately all about - multiple layers of security with the ultimate goal having the potential for disaster arrested somewhere along the way ...

Remember, the original question was "If there were No limitations, would you equip your aircraft with an airframe parachute?" and having 40% of pilots respond no , to what amounts to another layer of security at a relatively negligible cost, sounds to me a lot like some kind of "macho" attitude.
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chicagorandy
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Re: Chute or Free Fall

Postby chicagorandy » Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:05 am

Complete non-pilot airplane nut's opinion - I'd vote yes, with the caveat that I have been known to wear a belt and suspenders and in my home and garage have a few fire extinguishers prominently mounted.
"Don't believe everything you read on the internet" - Abraham Lincoln

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Jim Hardin
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Re: Chute or Free Fall

Postby Jim Hardin » Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:26 am

weight...

Ultralights are allowed to have them but FAA does not consider them to count against the 252 weight restriction. It dors count :mrgreen: against the Gross weight if one is specified. Of course they are unregulated so that’s up to you :D

Speculate? If LSA’s could get the same pass would use increase? Mfg would have to increase the allowable airframe limit.

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drseti
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Re: Chute or Free Fall

Postby drseti » Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:58 am

Jim Hardin wrote:Speculate? If LSA’s could get the same pass would use increase?


I suppose it would. One of my chief objections in an LSA is that they are so severely payload-limited. But, another issue I have is with those few manufacturers who make chutes required equipment. I have no problem with them being made available as an option. But when a manufacturer won't sell you a plane without one, it smells of liability avoidance.

And before someone objects: yes, I know the Cirrus is a special circumstance. Apparently, FAA mandated it for certification, because the design would not pass spin recovery requirements.
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Re: Chute or Free Fall

Postby 3Dreaming » Sat Dec 22, 2018 12:40 pm

drseti wrote:
Jim Hardin wrote:Speculate? If LSA’s could get the same pass would use increase?


I suppose it would. One of my chief objections in an LSA is that they are so severely payload-limited. But, another issue I have is with those few manufacturers who make chutes required equipment. I have no problem with them being made available as an option. But when a manufacturer won't sell you a plane without one, it smells of liability avoidance.

And before someone objects: yes, I know the Cirrus is a special circumstance. Apparently, FAA mandated it for certification, because the design would not pass spin recovery requirements.


I think it was a business choice based on dollars and cents. I think the FAA allowed for less rigorous spin testing program because of the chute, not that they mandated it because of spin testing issues. I believe the Cirrus has subsequently been spin tested for European sales.


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