...For Airliners, Too
Johnson said there's nothing new about huge parachutes being used for big, heavy things like airliners. The space shuttle's solid rocket boosters weigh more than a Boeing 737 and are recovered with parachutes. Tanks and other military hardware are also dropped safely. Johnson said applying the bizjet technology to airliners is a logical next step for the company. "We find that to be a technically doable thing," he said. However, marketability is the other side of the equation and flying in an airliner with a parachute is bound to cost more. Johnson said there may be enough nervous flyers out there to provide a market for a service that has an easily identifiable (if not quantifiable) safety edge at a slightly higher cost. He said the parachute is an important marketing tool for Cirrus and has been identified by many customers as a significant factor in their buying decision. Meanwhile, there have been two accidents involving Cirruses in recent weeks, but the chutes were not deployed. A controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accident in Spain killed all four on board and there were no injuries when a Cirrus was landed in a field near the runway at Rockland, Maine, Oct. 10. BRS's latest "save" (number 158) was on Sept. 15 when an aileron control tube went through the prop on a Dragonfly ultralight and sent it spinning earthward. The pilot pulled the chute and was unhurt.