Are Planes With Parachutes Really Safer?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Palmpilot, Jul 5, 2019.

  1. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Executive summary: Probably.
     
  2. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'd say there are a couple of things Berto leaves out there. The big question is "safer than WHAT." While I'll buy some of his analysis that CAPS made the Cirrus safer, the Cirrus has a higher accident rate (chute pull or not) than comparable aircraft.

    Another thing he omits from his analysis is that while the Cirruses are getting safer, so is the overall trend in the industry, so it's not clear how much to apportion to the chutes or the better education of the pilot to pull it.

    I do admit there is a lot of irrational criticism of CAPS. Some of it is just humor, but some is a bit more hostile than that. Oddly, I see an interesting parallel in another safety feature. I'm a woodworker. A bit over a decade or so ago a new saw came on the market that had an electronic circuit that detected when someone might be touching the blade and it fires a chunk of aluminum into the blade which not only stops its revolution in a few degrees but forces make the blade mount drop it into the table.

    You see the same opposition to the SawStop that you see on the anti-CAPS crowd.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
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  3. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Of course they are. As PIC, you have one more option.

    If you misuse the option, that's on you.
     
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  4. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think the meaningful question would be whether a parachute-equipped airplane is safer than the same plane would be without a parachute.
     
  5. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    This. I'm not in the anti-chute crowd. I flew an LSA with a chute when I was teaching down at 5C1 and frankly I started flying that airplane more at night than the Cessna 172s I had access to.
     
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  6. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Any accident statistic on Cirrus versus other airframes is open for interpretation. Their own number of saves statistic includes all who lived through a deployment whether it was really necessary or not. On the other hand, as the deployment itself causes substantial damage, any deployment will be considered an accident whereas an off field landing in another plane with minimal damage will be an incident. It is hard not to be an apple vs orange comparison.
     
  7. Warmi

    Warmi Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Of course a parachute equipped plane is safer than the same plane without a parachute - I mean thats just common sense.
    Say.. if a plane without a parachute cannot handle X catastrophic scenarios that will likely result in a fatality, then the same plane with a parachute won’t be able to handle only X-Y catastrophic scenarios - the question now becomes how large is the Y but in any case , even if it is only one scenario meaning Y=1, the plane still will be safer.
     
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  8. PaulS

    PaulS Final Approach

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    I think they are safer, as long as the pilot doesn't chump out and listen to the naysayers. For Cirrus what I've seen over at COPA show safer numbers, but people will say that's biased and in my opinion, those numbers are for other pilots, not me. I will say, the newer generation Cirrus with the ESP functions will have even better safety records as you really have to work at it to stall the aircraft or fly into terrain with those systems.

    Here is what Cirrus has to say about safety, although it seems a little dated. I'm just the messenger here.

    http://www.whycirrus.com/safety/the-cirrus-approach.aspx
     
  9. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Bingo. Safer than what?

    Have a look at the chart below. To my knowledge every Cirrus piston airplane ever sold is equipped with a CAPS parachute system. At least in that respect every Cirrus is essentially identical, and therefore every Cirrus airplane should be more or less "equally safe" compared with every other Cirrus airplane in the fleet.

    So if the "planes with parachutes are safer", and every Cirrus is equally safe, what's the explanation for the declining fatal accident rate, and more recently the declining number of annual CAPS deployments, even as the Cirrus fleet size expands? Are the newer Cirrus planes with parachutes that much "safer" than the older Cirrus planes with parachutes?

    Or does that significant statistical improvement actually have bugger all to do with the plane, or the parachute - both of which are just dumb machines.


    IMG_0533.PNG
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
  10. BrianNC

    BrianNC Pattern Altitude

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    You won't be able to tell it by time this thread is over. :D
     
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  11. N884

    N884 Pre-Flight

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    There is lots of talk on COPA about that chart. Some thoughts include embark (I think Cirrus is only manuf giving free training to all buyers, even on used market)—this should bend curve down. Huge statement by Cirrus; they certainly continue to plant a flag as the safest manuf in GA.
    But what may bend the curve up is the legacy fleet is aging and getting cheaper: as more people buy a “cheaper” G1 or G2, cross shopping (and flying it like) a 182, more will crash. You may be able to buy a $150k Cirrus but you cannot fly it like a $150k (insert other used plane here) and frankly you ought to get time with a CSIP. I don’t mean just a check-out. Cirrus recommends flying with a CSIP every 6 months, many of us do it more often than that.

    Of course a parachute makes a plane safer, but it isn’t on auto deploy. Any plane is only as safe as the PIC: I once read “more pilots kill planes than planes kill pilots” and it stuck with me. The difference is my plane has one final out: pull (well, technically per training: below 600 you land straight ahead, 600 - 2000 you pull, above 2000 use emergency checklist/troubleshoot and if safe landing isn’t “assured” you pull).
     
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  12. trenton

    trenton Pre-Flight

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    This type of risk equalization should also be considered when looking at the stats.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_hazard
     
  13. Mike Blackburn

    Mike Blackburn Pre-Flight

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    I have an interesting dilemma.
    I learned to fly in an SR20. I have no problem with the decision making re pulling the chute in the Cirrus. What is causing me some thought is the decision making around the Chute pull in my Sling.

    Final approach speed in the Sling is 58kts, it stalls in a very benign fashion with no wing drop. The factory test pilot actually says you don't need to pull the chute as "she'll mush in at 38-40kts" which is "more survivable than a vertical descent under the chute"

    My gut feel is that the chute is safer - at least the chance of flipping over is almost negligible... But the Sling also doesn't have the 25G seats that the Cirrus has.

    Anyone with some thoughts?
     
  14. PaulS

    PaulS Final Approach

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    Run into a wall as fast as you can, then see if you get hurt. Most people can run about 12 to 14 mph. 40 knots is 46 mph. If you could guaranty a controlled landing, on a smooth surface with no obstacles to run into then your instructor is correct. But add a tree or a rock into the equation, or a cartwheel on a soft surface, then I think you are safer with the chute.
     
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  15. Warmi

    Warmi Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have not heard about anyone dying or even being seriously injured due to vertical chute descent rate ( LSAs or Cirrus planes ) but there plenty of deaths and injuries due to attempting to land a plane on anything other than a runway.
     
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  16. Challenged

    Challenged Pattern Altitude

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    The video says there have been 10 serious injuries and 19 minor injuries when using CAPS (10:27). I'd install the BRS system in the Bonanza if I could though, would be nice to have that option.
     
  17. Warmi

    Warmi Pre-takeoff checklist

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    But the question is were these injuries within the normal operating envelope of the parachute or were these deployments of last resort ( which of course is nice option to have - nothing really to lose )
     
  18. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think at least some of them involve the airplane not impacting on the gear. Part of the design is to have some of the energy dissipated by splaying the gear and then again in the seats that are designed to give some amount of vertical deceleration assistance.
     
  19. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    I'm a woodworker as well and the difference is the Cirrus isn't lobbying the government to make the CAPS system mandatory on all airplanes but I see your point. I've read all those arguments ad nausium and I still have my twin Jet setup. Two Jet table saws bolted together with a common fence.
     
  20. N884

    N884 Pre-Flight

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    I’ve read a handful of first hand accts from CAPS users. It’s no picnic. Sounds like being in an office chair and being dropped from about 6 feet. Most needed a chiro, a few hurt their back, cracked a rib, etc. there are psych issues too, though that is prob true after every GA crash. Not really a CAPS data point.

    But, again, 100% survival rate. When we have a bad day up there, it’s nice to know you have a last resort option with a 100% survival rate (when used within envelope—aka pull early).
     
  21. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Cleared for Takeoff

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    What sort of psych issues?

    I've landed a plane off-field. My only psych issue was high-fiving my passengers for our having b*tch-slapped the grim reaper and not a scratch on any of us (and no shoulder harnesses!). I can't say I suffered any PTSD, although I did develop a penchant for high-horsepowered planes afterwards.

    Perhaps my advanced dunning-kruger is blocking the feelings I should be feeling. :)
     
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  22. Stephen Poole

    Stephen Poole Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    The National Institutes of Health have published a study. According to them, the parachute definitely saves lives. As usual, they only focus on Cirrus, which is a shame, because a number of LSAs have them as standard equipment now (Pipistrel and Flight Design, to name two).

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28539144

    Darryl Zubot, who apparently lives in his Pipistrel Virus, used his parachute a couple of years ago when the propeller separated. Maybe he could have killed the engine and landed safely anyway, but he credits the parachute for saving his life. For what it's worth. (Bonus: the two Canadian guys who took the video talking about what they had just seen ...)

     
  23. Warmi

    Warmi Pre-takeoff checklist

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    There is another one , in Germany , popped the chute in the pattern because of busted nose gear ... I don’t know, I would rather take my chance with a broken gear.

     
  24. Challenged

    Challenged Pattern Altitude

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    The injuries mentioned were normal envelope pulls, he also mentions a number of pulls that have been outside of the envelope and those resulted in fatalities, typically for being too low.
     
  25. Stephen Poole

    Stephen Poole Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    I don't know, either. I guess it's a judgment call. Part of what Cirrus hammers into their owner's heads is that if there's any doubt, the safest thing is just to pull the red handle. The reason why so many early-model Cirrus crashes resulted in fatalities is because pilots were trying to fly a sick plane to a safe (or at least survivable) landing. Cirrus tells their owners now to pull the chute unless you're CERTAIN that you can land safely.

    Edit: In Zubot's case, he pulled because he was over Edmonton. As it turns out, he may have been able to land it safely, but when it happened, there was obviously some damage, so he figured the safest thing was just to yank the handle.

    Not sure what I'd do. For the record, though, as soon as my wife gets better (the poor dear has been very sick lately), I'm getting back onto my schedule, which will include owning an LSA. The Tecnams look really nice, but don't come with a parachute (and if I add one, it'll really cut into the already-iffy useful load). That much has been decided: I'm gonna have a chute.
     
  26. N884

    N884 Pre-Flight

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    Significant other’s who become scared of GA, second guessing oneself, pilots reluctant to get back in saddle, etc..
     
  27. Blatham489

    Blatham489 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    So this line of thinking has me trying to find data on the “saves” from AMSAFE airbags. Does anyone have any data? Searched the interwebs but can only find hours flown, number installed etc. As noted, the ride under chute is no picnic, and the vertical descent is more rapid than I would have expected. So it got me to wondering if you would be as safe by doing the falling leaf/mush it in method with an airbag?
     
  28. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips Pattern Altitude

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    Cirrus instigated a brilliant training program when they saw the accident rate being early-Bonanza-like. They did a great job (and it continues today), both preventing some accidents from happening, and instilling the idea that if something goes very wrong, pull the chute.
     
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  29. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Cirris isn't, but that's a bad anology. BRS certainly has done plenty of lobbying to mandate the use of chutes in various circumstances. They, like the SawStop owner, have an effective monopoly on the technology. BRS bought out their only competitor a long time ago. SawStop has only recently gotten some viable competition. Felder has just announced a new (possibly superior) feature.
     
  30. Stephen Poole

    Stephen Poole Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    I couldn't find sales information on line. I'm sure that BRS is indeed the market leader, thanks to Cirrus, if nothing else. But for the record, BRS does have competition, primarily in Europe. Pipistrel uses Magnum chutes (developed by Junkers). There's a Czech company called Galaxy High that sells quite a few ballistic systems as well.
     
  31. Warmi

    Warmi Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The video of that Sirius chute pull was with the GRS chute ( Galaxy)
    BRS Is definitely not the only option , not even close.

    According to this article ( https://generalaviationnews.com/2015/05/31/analyzing-statistics-on-worldwide-aviation/) there are about 40 000 LSA type planes world wide - I have no data on how many of these are equipped with parachutes but given that for quite a few manufacturers parachutes are part of their standard equipment - that is a pretty decent market ( according to Wikipedia Cirrus sold total of about 7000 planes )
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
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  32. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    Oh...chute. o_O
     
  33. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Another way to look at this question is "At what point is it appropriate to make the decision to stop flying the airplane?".

    That is the essence of the dilemma posed by the factory test pilot, who is suggesting his/her preference to keep flying the airplane, versus pulling the parachute, at which point you as the pilot are have relinquished any remaining control over the outcome.

    I think this same dilemma was one of the reasons for the poor fatal accident record Cirrus developed up to about 2010/11. It's the CIrrus training, and recurrent training, to deal with that exact dilemma and their systematic decision making structure which has resulted in the dramatic improvement in the fatal accident rate.

    But those same statistics from Cirrus refute some of the claims the CAPS fans here keep making.
     
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  34. PaulS

    PaulS Final Approach

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    The operator is always the unknown factor. The bottom line is some situations leave you no time to think and no chance of recovery. In those situations, the chute is an absolute game changer if the pilot has enough time and altitude to act. Those situations include mechanical failure of the airplane, engine out, especially below 1,000 feet agl to 500 or 600 agl, below that it can still save you if there is no alternative, it's just your odds are much worse. LOC in IMC is another situation. It shouldn't happen, but does, guys have pulled and lived in those deals.

    The dilemma you talk about exists for everyone. The key is being able to decide quickly if it's better to pull or try to fly the airplane. I think your phrasing, "at which point you as the pilot are have relinquished any remaining control over the outcome.", is part of the problem. In reality, you are taking control of a situation that developed either: through your own fault or due to circumstances you have no control over. You are taking a situation where your survival looks grim, and turning it into an event where your chance of survival is very high.

    Pulling and living versus trying to recover from certain death wins every time for me if you have a chute.
     
  35. Lachlan

    Lachlan En-Route

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    I fly a 150, which is already slower than a Cirrus hanging under a pulled 'chute, so I figure not only am I safer than a Cirrus, I'm also flush with all the cash I saved by not buying the more dangerous airplane.
     
  36. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Once you pull that red handle you have relinquished any further control over the airplane or the outcome. That may well be the very best decision in the specific circumstance; I am not trying to argue that. But don't try to rationalize the consequence of pulling the handle as anything other than that.
     
  37. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    I think they are but only in situations where you need a parachute.
     
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  38. ircphoenix

    ircphoenix En-Route

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    Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
     
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  39. AGLyme

    AGLyme Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I bought a Flight Design with a chute last year. I view the chute option as just that... an option. I took my first long, overnight X country last week... and as I was flying over the forested Mountains of Virginia and having to adjust my flight plan from 5,500 feet to 3,500 to get under the clouds, there was a fairly long part of the trip where there were no legit landing fields in case of an emergency. I remember thinking that I had that "option" in the back. Made me feel a bit safer, but, it did not increase my confidence level any, meaning, I didn't say to myself "I have the chute, so press on"... It is a bit like the motorcycle helmet study where it was found people drive faster when they have a helmet on. I won't push it just because I have a chute.

    If I had an engine out I would first, second and third seek a safe place to land. The plane has a slow stall speed and I'd rather land on a golf course. The Foreflight glide ratio yellow ring and the "Nearest" button in the Dynon are excellent emergency features. Failing those options, pull and wait is "nice to have". The insurance company agrees.
     
  40. Dave Theisen

    Dave Theisen En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Planes with chutes are safer. Pilots of planes with chutes are more dangerous. I thought everyone knew that. :)

    Just kidding of course, but I think a lot of people believe this.