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Eurofox ballistic 'chute - advice sought

We’re a 4-pilot group, based at EGKA, building a Eurofox taildragger (UK LAA permit rules, day VFR only, MTOW 560kgs, Rotax 912S) for flying UK, Channel Isles, France and further afield. We now have to decide on the option of a ballistic ‘chute, for welding fuselage-frame cable ties.

However, we don’t find the decision to install a ‘chute straightforward. Advantages would be perhaps be a chance of a better outcome with engine or structural failure over built-up areas/forest/sea or in-flight collision. Disadvantages could be cost, maintenance, pay-load and baggage area sacrifice, and possible insurance loading.

The Eurofox is not in the Cirrus performance category, that’s obvious, and not all the points arising in the Cirrus thread are relevant, so hopefully a separate thread is justified. We have all watched the video lecture, which was seriously useful.

I have to admit that in a ‘simple’ aircraft such as a Eurofox, it would go against my personal instincts to pull the ‘chute for the vast majority of terrain considerations where we will be operating, but there’s a still a strong feeling that it might be worth the disadvantages to fit one. To quote one group member - 'it's a no-brainer'.

Your opinions would be much appreciated.

Eurofox: http://goo.gl/8PFS96

Magnum 601 ‘chute: http://goo.gl/htuqgS (11kgs loss of payload, 35% decrease of minimal baggage area - 50x40x30cms)

Swanborough Farm (UK), Shoreham EGKA, Soysambu (Kenya), Kenya

Well, for what it is worth from one who has flown little, discussed and read very much, and thought a bit at whiles:

-) I fly an Apollo Fox, which is close to identical to the Eurofox, with an 80 HP Rotax, but under my Belgian registry it is limited to 450 kgs gross; with the chute added that would become 472,5 kgs. As most ballistic installations weigh in at less than 22,5 kgs, the installation would actually allow me to carry a bit more, but not really significantly;

-) German pilots will tell you the chute is self-evident - it is indeed, for them, being a legal must for the D-M microlight registry. So their opinion does not really count, as they have no alternative;

-) Contrary to the Cirrus story, I have as yet not heard of any mishaps through incorrect use of a ballistic chute on a 3-axis microlight, but I do have heard (from a salesman, admittedly) of a few cases where lives were saved by it;

That said: I am not in a hurry to install one myself, there's many other priorities. But if some in your syndicate or group insist on it, I see little argument against it - weight and budget come to mind but these can be perfectly measured and argued.

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

Jan, thank you for your reply.

I guess one important, and perhaps unknown factor, is whether, after a 'chute pull, a 'Fox-type a/c would be recoverable/restorable for future use, assuming landing was made in hospitable terrain. This doesn't look a certainty with the Cirrus.

I have to admit that having utilised the 'chute, the fact that one has absolutely no control afterwards, is not an attractive proposition. At least, with a 'routine' forced landing, one would have some choice on landing options.

Maybe the lowest recommended altitude for BRS usage, would be lower in a (much) lighter a/c?

Swanborough Farm (UK), Shoreham EGKA, Soysambu (Kenya), Kenya

Come to think of it, that is the one argument against the BRS: one never trains it - that would be a bit on the expensive side, especially for us low-cost aviators. Perfectly complimentary: the more humble the craft, i.e. lighter, and slower, the less speaks against an out-landing. Indeed I was trained and almost brainwashed to consider out-landings non-events, though I am still curious to see myself achieve and survive my first.

So, yes, you could fit it, or at the very least you could weld in place the fuselage cable ties - they would cost little either in materials or in weight or in effort, the worst being perhaps the effort to get them properly sanded and cleaned and primered and painted. But, speaking without any experience neither theoretical instruction, there should IMHO be a concensus or even rule among pilots of the craft about when the chute can be pulled, and it should be much more restrictive than the Cirrus rule of "whenever in doubt, pull" that I seem to understand from these pages.

Thinking a bit further: I would be quite willing to spend 200 or 300 quid on a demonstration of pulling the BRS on a plane like mine, with a qualified instructor as PIC, of course. Just to have some faint idea of what I am talking about - and to better judge my own decision on acquiring one. Are there any offerers?

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

Does the Eurofox have any history of in-flight structural failure?

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

No. In fact its accident record (150,000 hrs +) is almost non-existent.

Swanborough Farm (UK), Shoreham EGKA, Soysambu (Kenya), Kenya

My comments are relative to single engine certified Cessna Piper types, so I accept that their might be factors regarding 'chute use which are a little different for the class of aircraft you mention- however,

Why the 'chute at all? I have never in my flying career wished that I had a 'chute, nor considered it to be a safety benefit. There is lots of sales speak about structural failure or mid air collision, or other emergency events as justifying carrying around 22Kg of expensive parachute the whole life of the plane. I opine that these are fear mongering parachute sales people, not people widely versed in GA risk assessment.

If anyone has a fear of structural failure in their aircraft - don't fly it, until it is properly inspected, and confirmed as airworthy!

Worried about a mid air? Watch where you are going!

These risks can generally be mitigated with process and airmanship, which has been effective for nearly a century of flying. There is a BRS STC approved for the Cessna 150. How many people think that they need one? Four - and they were then subject to an AD anyway!

Personally, I would not bother with a 'chute. If you really need it, you need to address some other concerns more...

Just my opinion...

Home runway, in central Ontario, Canada

Come to think of it, that is the one argument against the BRS: one never trains it

I think this sums up the reason I wouldn't spend the money on one, besides if there is spare money around, it might be better spent on navigation or emergency equipment (a built in ELT if you don't have one).

I don't want to do a forced landing, but at least I have been trained to do one, and I hope, certain actions (like checking fuel, carb heat, trim for 72 kts) are now memory items and I could do them quickly and fluidly. Being in a situation you are not in total control of (like an engine failure) and then moving to a 'solution' which also provides you little aerodynamic control, and one which has not been trained for in a simulator, to me would cause more anxiety and introduce more risks. The only time I'd want to pull one is over water, when a vertical trajectory descent is more favourable than a horizontal trajectory.

That said, if the stats really are (debatable) that 100% walk away, it makes you think about doing it.

A US Light Sport fatal accident where the parachute seems to have made things worse - an into wind landing would have had a low ground speed.

Maoraigh
EGPE, United Kingdom

if the stats really are (debatable) that 100% walk away, it makes you think about doing it.

One could make the calculation on the basis of your other half being more willing to fly with you, which to many pilots will be priceless.

Many Cirrus pilots openly say that this was a big reason.

its accident record (150,000 hrs +) is almost non-existent.

OK; can you look at the engine failure record? That definitely won't be nonexistent, but if one looks at the mission profile, it may be insignificant. For example (a stereotype but you will get the idea) the 20-min flight from Shoreham to Bembridge, at 3400ft cruise, is probably 99% easily force-landable in nice green fields. The exposure is post-departure (especially on 20) but a chute will be useless there, and about 1 minute over the sea so 5% of the cruise segment (make that 0% as you can climb to FL104 there). A flight from Shoreham to Le Touquet, flown all the way to Dover as many do to minimise the water crossing, is perhaps 10% risky. Most flights over the UK land area are probably under 1% non-landable.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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