BRS Ponders Selling Parachutes For Light Jets


Ballistic Recovery Systems (BRS) says the work it’s doing on emergency parachutes for light jets could one day put a canopy over some airliners. Vice President Dan Johnson said BRS, best known for the chute it developed for Cirrus, has a NASA contract to develop a system that would handle the much higher speeds and loads on aircraft like Cessna’s new Mustang or the Eclipse 500. Neither of those companies is currently interested in putting parachutes on their planes but Johnson said NASA really wants the concept developed as part of its Highway in the Sky scenario. He said several companies, which he can’t disclose, are taking part in the project. The biggest technological challenge in developing parachutes for jets is the comparatively high speeds at which they can operate. The trick is to slow the whole package down so the parachute can open without ripping to shreds. Johnson said current technology could provide progressive deployment of a parachute up to speeds of about 200 knots. To save jets, it needs to work at 250 knots or higher, the typical true airspeed at altitude. Johnson said the answer is “continuous disreefing” to control the opening of the canopy. He said it’s been tried before but nobody has made it work. “We think we’re achieving some success,” he said. “We believe we can do this but it will be a couple of years at least.”