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Cirrus BRS / chute discussion (merged)

You probably wouldn't pull in FL200 and at ca. 500fpm sink rate, you'd have a lot of time to evaluate the situation and decide what to do. If the cloud base was 800 AGL, I'd pull, if it was 2000ft AGL I would hold off until I pop out of the cloud and then see if I think a forced landing is doable. All that written in my warm and cozy office of course

Of course, if you are at FL200 you have more time and options available. Still, if you are not within gliding distance of an airport, they teach on at COPA to pull the chute, even when flying at daytime and having a grass field in sight. The risk of injury is a lot less when pulling the chute, then when trying to make an emergency landing on a piece of land. You might hit something or oversee a ditch and the forward energy might be too much for you to survive.

EHRD, Netherlands

Of course, if you are at FL200 you have more time and options available. Still, if you are not within gliding distance of an airport, they teach on at COPA to pull the chute, even when flying at daytime and having a grass field in sight. The risk of injury is a lot less when pulling the chute, then when trying to make an emergency landing on a piece of land. You might hit something or oversee a ditch and the forward energy might be too much for you to survive

I've heard that a few times.

On the other hand, I've had several engine failures and weather problems that caused me to land in fields - and glider pilots do it all the time. I've never damaged an aeroplane doing that, and high performance gliders seldom suffer damage either.

On the other hand a parachute descent is uncontrolled, and at sufficient rate to usually destroy the undercarriage.

I've also talked to test pilots who have done test flying in the Cirrus models, who report no particularly difficult characteristics in take-off and landing.

So on the whole, I think it's a wrong statement.

G

Boffin at large
Various, southern UK.

I think most traditionally trained pilots would descend to somewhere above the minimum parachute activation level and then make a decision, according to whether there are good fields in sight or not.

But that isn't what Cirrus training is, which AFAIK is to pull ASAP.

I think very few people would be able to execute a deadstick landing at night, from FL200 or from any other level. Automation is of little help because for example you cannot fly a 3 degree ILS with no engine power, and the autopilot most likely won't intercept the GS from above.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I think very few people would be able to execute a deadstick landing at night, from FL200 or from any other level. Automation is of little help because for example you cannot fly a 3 degree ILS with no engine power, and the autopilot most likely won't intercept the GS from above.

If I can glide to a reasonable sized airport, I'd do that day or night and if am certain to pop out at 800ft AGL or better, I'd do the deadstick landing. With GPS you can descend in circles around that airport and if it's a large one, surely manage to land safely.

The problem is that the Cirrus is just not a good aircraft to land somewhere in a farm field. The statistics speak for themselves. Those that attempted to land in the grass end up (in general) severely wounded or dead) while those that opt to pull the chute (about all) walk away with no or only minor injuries.

For one thing, the nose wheel will break off easily on landing. I think that the biggest aim of COPA is to promote the chute pull for about every emergency landing. Not just those where you cannot make the farm field anymore. Every time I visit a COPA event, this is what is being promoted on all their CPPP training events.

Now, getting into trouble I have 2 options: make the farm field or grass and either save the aircraft, my pride as a pilot but potentially ending up heavily injured or dead. Or I can just pull the chute. I will loose the plane but more likely save my soul. The last option is the one I will do.

Look at it: 34 CAPS/Parachute events up to date with 70 survivors (9 serious injuries, 3 minor injuries, 57 uninjured) and 1 fatality

96 NON-CAPS fatal Cirrus accidents (not pulling the chute but doing something else) with 189 fatalities plus 24 serious injuries, 3 minor injuries, zero uninjured

See:

EHRD, Netherlands

I think very few people would be able to execute a deadstick landing at night, from FL200 or from any other level. Automation is of little help because for example you cannot fly a 3 degree ILS with no engine power, and the autopilot most likely won't intercept the GS from above.

I think trying to fly an ILS deadstick is a sure way to get killed. I would just do exactly what I would do during the day, fly a racetrack around an airport at best glide, use automation to get a runway centreline for SA and plan to be at 2000ft on a downwind leg. And if the cloudbase is 0ft, I am stuffed.

Funnily we did a practice of exactly this (an IMC PFL - not in real IMC) last week. From 5000ft you have a surprising amount of time. As someone who's plane does not have a parachute, it is all I can do.

EGTK Oxford

I am unconvinced. I think that it is possible that the pulled the 'chute or not statistics are skewed. I expect that many of the fatal "did not pull" victims were probably flying in a phase of flight from which a deployment was unworkable anyway. (But, I'm certainly not expert on Cirrus). Did the presence of the 'chute lure them into a phase of flight which was not ideal? Were their forced approach skills up to standard? Or were they lax for having the feeling that forced landing skills were not vital to maintain, as their plane had its own plan.

Of course the Cirrus promoters are proponents of deploying the 'chute at the first sign of an unexpected event. They want the 'chute to appear to be the savior, to justify its costly presence in the aircraft. Yes, for the non flying pax who is suddenly the only living person when the pilot croaks, it's a good idea. Other than that, I think that it is one more erosion to piloting skills.

I have forced approach to the ground 4 times (in 37 years and 6500 hours). I have never damaged a plane, and always taken off from the landing site, when the problem was resolved. A part of this was that happily, at those times, I was flying in a way which enabled that successful glide and landing. Yes, yes, other time I could not have done it.

I worry that pilots are failing to maintain the basic skills of airmanship which are self preservation by flying the plane to the most safe landing possible for the conditions in [or over] which the pilot chose to fly.

I think that pulling the 'chute for a very low threshold "emergency" is verging on irresponsible to those on the ground, when you cause your whole plane to descent into someone's garden tea party with zero ability to mitigate the affect. At least a parachuting person can steer to an intended landing point.

Home runway, in central Ontario, Canada

I have forced approach to the ground 4 times (in 37 years and 6500 hours). I have never damaged a plane, and always taken off from the landing site, when the problem was resolved.

Out of curiosity, what were you flying at the time? You also have 6,500 hours, which is about my total time, squared. You've had plenty of opportunity to force-land an aircraft, and plenty of opportunity to learn how to do so. I doubt I would do as well as you, though I still do pfls, glide approaches and like to think I'd have a decent chance of making a survivable landing.

A while ago I worked my way through the NTSB database looking at long-ez forced landings, the LongEZ being my obsession at the time. A strikingly high proportion of off-airport landings proved fatal - over half IIRC. I looked at piper cubs for a comparison, and found almost no forced landing accidents that had killed people... And the chances are that many other forced landings in this aircraft would not have been notifiable.

I am guessing the Cirrus would be more dead-stickable than a LongEZ, but less so than many older types.

EGCW

I have done 1 forced landing due to Engine failure with a Piper Archer II. The issue here is the Cirrus. It is not suitable for a forced landing off-site. Join COPA (which is not the same as Cirrus) and you will find out that there us consensus on this within the Cirrus pilots community that to pull is the thing to do. I can assure you that this topic is discussed at length and that every accident and chute pull is discussed to detail.

Now would I be flying another aircraft, then of course I would aim at making an off-site emergency landing and of course I can imagine that to work out well in many cases. But that is another story.

EHRD, Netherlands
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