Okay, this is really cool but …

Three lives saved when plane’s parachute deploys near Danbury. Who knew planes now had parachutes? Astonishing, and the plane itself is impressive too.

[Airport administrator] Safranek said the plane was equipped with a rocket-propelled parachute — the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System — that was deployed from the rear of the fuselage when the plane was about 2 miles east of the airport.

“The aircraft is an amazingly advanced aircraft, and it worked exactly as it was supposed to,” Safranek said. “It saved lives in the air — the three — and it saved lives on the ground.”

All of which is absolutely whizz bang stuff, but the article mentions “speculation” that the plane crashed because it ran out of gas. If that was the case, it fits neatly in with other accidents involving similarly modern technological gadgets – users become so dependent upon them or so relaxed by their presence that they forget common sense things like checking their fuel gauge, driving slowly in snowstorms even with ABS or, as in the recent case of a navy ship that ran aground, actually reading a chart. Beware.

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9 responses to “Okay, this is really cool but …

  1. ML

    The plane was a Cirrus. The Cirrus was the first production plane to have a parachute as standard equipment. They are still the only manufacture that offers it as standard equipment. I believe that they have been around since 1999. I fly these planes often from HPN and they are very safe but you are always at the mercy of the operator. I dont believe that the presence of a parachute gave the owner/operator of the plane any comfort to “stretch” on fuel as the parachute deployment is not a lot of fun and it destroys the plane. This flight was with an instructor. However, fuel exhaustion is one of the leading causes of accidents especiually in single engine planes becasue you have to contstantly switch tanks in each wing. He may have run out of fuel in one wing because he forgot to switch tanks but had plenty in the other. They were on approach and panicked due to the lower altitude, night condition and potential icing conditions. Most accidents in small planes are pilot error. Luckily they had the parachute or else they would all be dead.

  2. Sound Beacher

    Good memory anon, it was Cory Lidle in a Cirrus.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/11/nyregion/12crashcnd.html?_r=0

  3. Fred2

    Fuel in small aircraft… wierd. You have a 100K+++ machine and they can’t be bothered putting in sensors to tell you to open the fuel valve, maybe?

    Time to get a second rate auto company involved in making these things , the aero guys are obviously 80 years behind the times.

  4. If only John Denver had this rocket propelled parachute. But then again, he did not know which fuel switch to turn on.

  5. Fred2–Just FYI regarding your comment on “80 years behind the times.” These planes have really sophisticated technology–blame the pilot, not the plane. And by the way, if you run out of fuel, you can still land the plane without pulling the chute.
    The pilot (and copilot) can always see exactly how many gallons of fuel are remaining in the tanks on the monitor in a Cirrus (as well as the location of other traffic, lightning strikes etc). The fuel monitor has a sensor that is green. It changes to yellow at an hour and a half of flying time and red when you have under an hour plus there is a beep.