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First 'Successful' Australian Cirrus Chute Pull Ends Well

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Australia recorded its first "successful" Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) Nov. 21, according to the Australian Transportation Safety Board, and pilot John Nixon's cellphone self-portraiture told the story pretty well. After the engine on the SR22 G3 he and a friend were flying lost oil pressure and seized near Gilgandra, New South Wales, Nixon told the Daily Liberal that he first looked for an airstrip or country road to set down on but as he ran out of options he decided to pull the chute. "Adrenalin kicked in and I automatically did what was needed," Nixon, a private pilot with about 1,950 hours, told the newspaper. "We were on the ground less than a minute after the oil gauge indicated the problem." It was third time a Cirrus pilot has pulled the chute in Australia but the other incidents didn't work out so well.

In February of 2009 the chute on a Cirrus failed to extract and the pilot made a forced landing instead with minor injuries to the pilot and passenger. In December of 2009 a pilot was seriously injured in a low-level (441-foot) deployment of the chute. However, things went more or less according to plan in last Wednesday's incident. The aircraft settled hard enough to collapse the gear and Nixon got a black eye by kneeing himself in the impact. He said he and his passenger got out of the plane immediately in case it caught fire but soon went back to retrieve his cellphone. He called air traffic control to let them know about the situation and then snapped a few pictures of the scene. Nixon's was the 39th recorded deployment of the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS). Number 38 happened Nov. 16 near Holbrook, Ariz. An oil pressure issue also preceded that event. The aircraft ended up on its back and the pilot and lone occupant suffered minor injuries.

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