Sunday, November 27, 2011

Aircraft parachute systems

The Cirrus SR-20 that crashed near McHenry County College yesterday was equipped with a Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), which is a safety feature in every Cirrus aircraft.

At the CAPS is described as activated by a lever in the cockpit that deploys the parachute, which then lowers the plane to the ground.

Investigators will be concerned about determining the payload (weight of passengers and luggage), the remaining fuel in the tanks (and whether one tank might have run dry and then the position of any tank lever inside the cockpit), and estimating the speed of the plane when it hit the ground. For debris to be scattered for 100 yards, as estimated by the sheriff's deputies' report, the plane still had considerable forward momentum and would not have been drifting under the parachute.

Information about the CAPS can be read at  Click on the "Learn More" button for additional information about the System.

Small planes often are not equipped with "black boxes". Although the plane was reported to have been operating under VFR, there is probably some computerized tracking by the FAA, so that it's flight path could be determined.

The plane had obviously been flying more than 30 minutes, if it departed the Marion, Ind. airport about 10:00AM. Could it cover 200 miles in 90 minutes? Definitely. Its departure time may have been about 10:00AM. E.S.T., which was not noted in early stories.


Concerned Citizen said...

Flight time would be 1.5 hours as Indiana is an hour ahead of us. Paper said he departed at 10 AM but that was Marion Indiana time 9:00 A.M. our time. His flight path was about right on the money for a flight time considering his vectoring south around the O'Hare TCA Tower Control area.

I'll bet he was planning on landing at Palwaukee/ Chicago Executive (Wheeling) and was disoriented due to bad weather. According to NBC, the pilot was not instrument rated and the weather was low visibility

Gus said...

Thanks. I was wondering if weather was a factor. I'm away from Woodstock at this time.

Danielle said...

The weather was pretty bad, that day. It was really windy and rainy and nasty. I'm not a pilot in any way, but in my opinion, that was NOT flying weather.
The parachute was deployed but seems to have been caught in a tree (I saw the parachute in the tree). Whether it was deployed too late, or something went wrong, that remains to be seen.
This is a very sad situation.

Gus said...

Got to wondering today if the pilot could have had a health condition arise. FAA tapes will tell more.

Danielle said...

They did an autopsy and it was confirmed that there was no medical reason for why the pilot lost control of the aircraft

Anonymous said...

All died from blunt force trauma per the ME. Awful lot of plane crashes lately.
I not only have to worry about get'n hit in my rustbucket, but now have to watch out for planes fall'n outta da sky. Doh.