Chute Failure Cited In Fatal Crash

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Two men who died in the crash of a Czech-built light-sport aircraft in Rhoadesville, Virginia, in May 2016 had deployed a parachute recovery system, but it failed when the single front attachment point detached, according to a recent NTSB report. According to the NTSB, the pilot had recently purchased the Jihlavan KP 5 ASA (Skyleader 500), an all-metal, two-seat low-wing aircraft, with a chute supplied by Galaxy Rescue Systems, and was taking instruction in it to satisfy insurance requirements. Radar data indicated that, during the flight, the airplane's groundspeed decreased from 94 to 62 knots, consistent with airwork such as slow flight and stall practice. Subsequently, several witnesses saw the airplane descending nose-down with the parachute deployed and still attached, but with the canopy only partially inflated, before the airplane impacted terrain.

The owner likely activated the parachute due to inadvertent spin entry, according to the NTSB. The previous owner of the airplane told the safety board he had to be vigilant during stall practice because “the airplane always seemed to yaw abruptly to the right and into a spin, more so than any other airplane he had flown.” The NTSB said Galaxy Rescue Systems told them the accident was the first time one of the chutes had been deployed in flight. During certification, one test deployment was performed on the ground. The current design includes two front anchors instead of one. The accident airplane was about 50 pounds over its maximum takeoff weight at the time of the parachute deployment, the NTSB said. The NTSB completed its report in September, but it was just reported by the local Freelance Star in Fredericksburg, Virginia, this week.

Comments (4)

This is something I've been concerned about with LSAs that are sold with ballistic chutes that have never been tested in flight. I realize that's a very expensive test, but ground testing is not the same thing.

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | November 2, 2017 9:49 AM    Report this comment

One wonders if that particular plane was built entirely 'straight', if it had such poor stall characteristics.

It looks from the NTSB to not be a problem with the chute design. Instead, it was the design of the attachment point to the aircraft - that's what ripped out. I don't know who was responsible for that, but often that's the airframe manufacturer who integrates the chute.

The crucial part of the report, about the parachute riser's front anchor just behind the seats, which is supposed to take most of the load (with rear anchors at the rear spars mainly designed to keep the plane at the correct angle):

"Metallurgical examination of the separated front anchor revealed that it had been bolted into
aluminum bulkhead skin that was about 0.022-inch thick. Although the anchor and seven of its
eight bolts remained intact, the surrounding aluminum skin of the airplane had separated from
the airplane in overstress. Without any additional supporting structure such as longerons,
stringers, or bathtub fittings, it is likely the thin aluminum skin could not withstand the force
applied to the front anchor during parachute deployment"

While we don't know about normal or any abnormal parachute opening forces, at first glance it seems like the main parachute anchoring point was incredibly substandard.

Posted by: Peter Chapman | November 4, 2017 8:29 AM    Report this comment

Addition: More from the report: The POH said stalls were prohibited. The aircraft manufacturer was the one that designed the parachute attachment. The aircraft was built in 2007 and the parachute attachment design changed a couple years later to include two front attachments. But the report no comment on whether the company considered the original inadequate or attempted to contact owners.

Posted by: Peter Chapman | November 4, 2017 8:38 AM    Report this comment

No report of the altitude of this plane when the chute was deployed.

Posted by: Doug Ryan | November 12, 2017 10:11 PM    Report this comment

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