Boris Popov, the founder and VP of BRS Aerospace and the inventor of the ballistic parachute system, has recently written an article for the Cirrus Owners & Pilots Association (COPA) about his Cirrus parachute system. In the article, he noted that his system has saved 255 lives and that his company, after 30 years in the ballistic parachute business, has sold nearly 35,000 systems worldwide.
Boris then provided some data about the capabilities and performance expectations of his BRS ballistic parachute:
- Minimum deployment altitude. According to Boris, his company has documented accounts of saves occurring where a pilot activated a BRS ultralight system below 200 feet AGL and even one instance where the system was activated at 100′ AGL. He then added that pilots need to keep in mind that airspeed, parachute size and the descent angle will all impact opening times and the minimum altitude needed to achieve a full deployment.
- Drag/brake chute on the ground. Boris noted that the initial extraction process of a parachute deployment will create significant drag and at the very least, it creates a nose-up attitude. This drag can easily change a deadly vertical impact into a glancing bounce within a half-a-second of activation.
- Pull Early, Pull Often, and Keep Pulling. Boris stressed the need to pull early, pull often and to keep pulling – until activation occurs. In fact, Boris wrote that the word “yank” is a much better word to use rather than “pull” as it “implies a harder, quicker action better describing the necessary activating forces.”
- Steering with power under canopy. Boris pointed out that after performing dozens of in-air deployments using various aircraft, his company has found that in many cases, the aircraft is somewhat "steerable" after deployment. In fact, his test pilots were able to steer Pitts and Cessna 150 aircraft in early tests. He also noted that with tractor prop driven airplane, using engine power can provide some steering ability.
At the end of the article, Boris also pointed out that its not true that there is an “empirically based magic altitude where a go/no go exists.” In fact, he pointed out that if you loose control of your aircraft on a bad landing, using the parachute can actually help to slow you down to a more survivable speed – if you make a quick “yank” decision in time.