Chute

FL_parachute_CIMG0156

FL_parachute_CIMG0156

The pilot of this Cirrus SR20 deployed the chute over mountainous terrain in British Columbia, and all four occupants walked away unhurt. A lucky landing spot? Perhaps. Note the channel through which the parachute system's harness is run. Normally, the channel is invisible, as it's covered by a thin, non-structural layer of composite material. When the chute is deployed, though, the harness rips out the covering.
FL_parachute_CIMG0149

FL_parachute_CIMG0149

Despite the steep slope on which it came to rest, the airplane stayed in place on the slope. Good thing, too, as it would have been an exciting sled ride to the bottom.
FL_parachute_CIMG0147

FL_parachute_CIMG0147

Here's another shot of the terrain near where the British Columbia SR20 pilot made the pull. A forced landing, as you (hopefully) can tell, is not an attractive option here.
FL_parachute_CIMG0158

FL_parachute_CIMG0158

The landing gear is an integral part of the parachute landing system. In a letdown after a deployment, the gear absorbs a lot of the dynamic energy, protecting the occupants from a really sudden stop.
FL_parachute_CIMG0160

FL_parachute_CIMG0160

The chute on our December cover mockup is green, but that's only make believe. In real life they're orange and white for optimum visibility during and after the ride down.
FL_parachute_IMG00189

FL_parachute_IMG00189

These two crummy but important shots are noteworthy. Taken by a construction worker in Fort Lauderdale, they are the only known photographs of a Cirrus under the chute in a real life save situation. As you can see, the ceiling is low, and the airplane, still at a couple of hundred feet agl in the first photograph, is clearly stabilized on its descent. The pilot reported that he pulled the chute at around 800 feet.
FL_parachute_IMG00190

FL_parachute_IMG00190

The second of two crummy but important shots. Taken by a construction worker in Fort Lauderdale, they are the only known photographs of a Cirrus under the chute in a real life save situation. As you can see, the ceiling is low, and the airplane is clearly stabilized on its descent. The pilot reported that he pulled the chute at around 800 feet.
FL_parachute_WhiteSR20tight

FL_parachute_WhiteSR20tight

This is what the airplane looks like stabilized under the chute. The photograph, taken during certification flight testing, clearly shows the triangular geometry of the harnesses. The ring-shaped device halfway up the parachute risers (long cords) is called a slider. It keeps the chute from inflating completely right away. This is critical, as it prevents the opening of the parachute from putting too powerful a dynamic load on the attach points, possibly causing them to fail. Modified slider designs are part of BRS's plan to increase the capability of the chute, eventually enabling it to be used on airplanes with speeds of up to 350 knots.
FL_parachute_CirrusPack

FL_parachute_CirrusPack

Chute installations add a good deal of weight to the airplane, and here you can see why. The CAPS package on the SR's tips the scales at around 80 pounds, though few Cirrus pilots with whom we've spoken would trade the chute for more useful load.
FL_parachute_Eagledeplo

FL_parachute_Eagledeplo

BRS chutes got their start in the ultralight industry. Company founder Boris Popov got the inspiration for the product when the ultralight he was flying crashed. Within a few years Popov's rocket-powered chutes were on ultralights around the world. Here an Eagle ultralight descends under a BRS canopy.
FL_parachute_slider2of4

FL_parachute_slider2of4

It's a bit hard to see in this photograph, but the circular fabric ring up near the parachute-it's hard to see because the ring is the same color-is the slider. As air loads decrease on it and, thus, increase on the chute, the slider will work its way down the risers, allowing the chute to open fully. This happens in the blink of an eye. Okay, maybe two blinks.
FL_parachute_SR20Slidergnd

FL_parachute_SR20Slidergnd

This sounds self-evident, but the parachute is an important part of the parachute system. In order to make the system light enough to install in small airplanes, the canopy has to be light, and it has to be able to be packed very tightly, to make the huge expanse of fabric small enough to fit into an airplane while leaving enough space for the occupants.
FL_parachute_C150Deploy

FL_parachute_C150Deploy

After the pilot deploys the chute, the airplane, here a 150 undergoing flight testing, goes through a short series of swings. The nose-up and nose-down angles can be sharp, as shown here.