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Pipistrel deployed ballistic parachute succesfully


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Hmm...airplane looks intact on the ground.  They talk about a "shudder" and the pilot says "something extreme was wrong".  But there is no hint about how the airplane was flying or what controllability issues he experienced.  I'm glad it worked out for him, but I'd like to get more details. 

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He lost a propeller blade.  His report below [ from Pipistrel forum ]



a.- After you lost one blade with the plane suddenly shaking, what did you do first?
I was in shock from the change in situation going from a nice flight to chaos instantly. It's really hard to recall how much time passed during the event, adrenaline kicked in pretty quick. The airplane was so violently shaking I could not read anything on my dynon screens. First thing I did was try calling mayday on the radio and when I pressed the push to talk switch it was dead.

b.- Reduced throttle to idle?
This is the second thing I did, I had no idea what was happening but I realized that this was severe and i'm going to have to land it without an engine running.

c.- Shut engine off?
This is one thing I would have changed if it happened again, I would have shut down the engine sooner. I Turned it off before pulling the BRS chute, but I really can't recall how much time passed before doing so. I could guess that it was maybe running for 30 seconds before I shut it off.

d.- For how long did you fly engine off?
Not long, maybe 5 seconds, I shut it off when I was in an okay position below to safely land with the parachute.

e.- When did you did broadcast MAYDAY?
This was my first reaction, declaring an emergency.

f.- When did you realize the radio was off?
As soon as I pushed on the push to talk button I knew right away I wasn't broadcasting, you can hear it and I couldn't hear anything, I also looked at the radio display and it was dead.

g.- I assume your Dynon stayed on with his own batteries.
I am heading to the airplane right away and will check the battery disconnect switch to see if that's what caused my radio to go out. I'm assuming the backup batteries kept the dynon screens lit as well.

h.- Did you put the fuel selector to off? when?
This was done when I was free falling on the parachute. My main concern was to get the aircraft on the parachute while I was in a good position for landing below. I was flying over a city population of over one million. I am very lucky that this happened right when I was coming up to the old city centre airport. I knew that they have been destroying the runways, I looked to confirm and they were working on it on friday, so there was no runway left and the rest of it was covered in 2-3 feet of snow. We have had some warming and thawing here as well and I knew the top layer of snow was crusty with soft snow below so I didn't dare try and do a landing on it, I deemed it much safer for me to pull the parachute then risk a landing and flipping the airplane upon touchdown.

Everyone must understand that in this circumstance there is a lot of quick decisions to be made, high level of stress and adrenaline so my accounts of how things played out may not be entirely accurate, i.e. force needed to pull the parachute lever but will do my best to recall what I felt/heard/saw.

1.- What was your deck angle on descend with the parachute? I have always wondered since you have only two attachments.
When the parachute first deployed the aircraft was in an oscillation from the forward momentum, this subsided within about 10 seconds (i think) and settled to about a 10-15º nose down attitude

2.- You say the main gear hit first, do you attribute most of the damage to the initial impact? It appears so.
This aircraft was a tail dragger, when I initially hit I do remember the landing gear touching first then nose diving into the ground, the engine compartment most likely absorbed most of the imact.

3.- Did you get any bruises on your body around the seatbelt areas? Chest? Anywhere else?
It's now about 30 hours since the occurrence and I do not have any bruises.

4.- Did you hit your head against any of the close by structures in that space? Whiplash?
Emergency services checked my head and spine about 15 minutes after the landing and they could not find any head trauma. I don't recall hitting my head on anything but I do remember bracing for impact, I have paragliding training so there is a certain way you can brace your body for impact, I put my knees together and protected my face with my arms and elbows. I do not have a single scratch on me from the landing.

5.- Were you tightly secured or did you have time to tighten up before deploying?
I was on a photo flight so I had my chest straps loosened up before I deployed the parachute. I was at about 800-1000' AGL when I deployed the chute. I had ample time to tighten up my chest straps before impact, I always have my lap strap securely tightened

6.- Was the arrival (“landing”) harsher than anticipated or not? Did you feel it in your lower back or was the deck angle steep enough to transfer the jolt to your harness around the chest?
I honestly had no idea what to expect, I didn't have time to check my decent rate so I didn't really know how fast I was descending. The only thing I thought of doing was bracing for it and covering my head/face. It was actually less of an impact then what I expected. The only thing that is slightly sore today is my lower back and left arm, I do remember getting thrown forward a little bit when the nose dived after hitting main gear.

7.- Given the positive outcome of your incident, would you have done anything differently, not so much regarding your decision to deploy or not, but in terms of being more prepared for such an event?
One thing I wish I would have thought of doing was opening my door before impact. I know that we are trained to do this but it slipped my mind. I was easily able to get out of the door after thankfully. The door was severely damaged after it flipped on it's back. I don't recall that any of the windshields broke on the initial landing, it was only when the parachute flipped the plane that all of the windshields broke apart.

8.- Was your parachute safety pin removed before flight or did you have to do it once you made the decision? If it was in, were you fully aware of this fact and removed it before pulling or found yourself confused for a moment?
I have always taken the safety pin out of the handle before flight, I make it a habit of doing so and it's in my checklist. I never really thought that I would experience such a severe situation instantaneously without any warning signs so I think it's a good thing I had the pin removed. I only had a short amount of time to make the decision to pull the parachute, I was worried that my engine was going to rip off of the aircraft so I had to act as fast as I could.

9.- How heavily did you have to yank the lever to cause the rocket to detonate? Did it surprise you for being too light or too heavy? Could a child or a woman do it without problems?
Honestly I don't remember at all how much force was needed. I do remember grabbing the lever and punching forward as far as I could reach. This is a technique similarly used to deploy a paraglider reserve chute in which I have had training in so I used similar methods. All I thought about was getting that lever as far forward as possible and as hard as possible with a quick smooth action. I don't know if a child could do it, for one it would be quite a reach when they are strapped in. It's definitely a good idea to tell passengers that there will be resistance and to give it all they've got.

10.-How high were you and what’s your perception on how much height you lost between pulling the lever and deployment?
I was about 800-1000' by the time I was over the old airport and deployed the parachute. I did not look at my altitude to see what I was at, there is a bit of g-force from the parachute when it slows the airplane down and that distracted me from everything else. I wasn't really anticipating that. I remember thinking how quiet it was when I was descending on the chute with no engine running. I do remember hearing the bang of the rockets deploying so I knew that it had worked right away. I was wearing david clark noise cancelling headphones so it must be a fairly loud explosion.

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Very interesting report.


In my opinion, and what I teach my students, is that the last thing to worry about is the radio. What is telling ATC going to do to help you in the situation? Nothing. They will start asking questions and further disrupt your focus.


In my opinion, fly the plane (to the extent and in the manner possible). Then navigate, to the extent possible. My impression was that after he quit trying to monkey with the radio, it reads like he did a pretty good job.


Discussion? What would your sequence of event have been?

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Jaques, thanks for all that great info on the event.  It looks like the pilot did a good job in a tough situation.  Had he not had the parachute, he'd have been forced to land in the snow at the abandoned airport, and that might not have turned out nearly as well.


Jim...I agree with you, the radio is way down on the list.  One benefit though, is that if they can locate you before you land and you get injured in the impact, at least somebody will know where to look for you.  I have a 406Mhz PLB in my airplane, so I'd probably activate that rather than fool with the radio.  It's good to have somebody who knows where you are or is at least trying to locate you.  

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Thanks for posting that interview.


When things go to hell, things happen really fast and our training can be all we have to fall back on.


Good job!


Oh, and a good reminder to check the prop carefully on every preflight. Not saying that anything would have been visible. Its just that a failed prop is a very serious situation.

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A few months back while flying over to Phoenix, I spotted this plane near Mt. Whitney.



Turns out he lost a prop and then crash landed on seemingly flat ground at 10,000ft (immediately grabbed and smashed both the plane's and his own nose)

See if you can find it in the picture. Made me feel sort of small and vulnerable for awhile.


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 Hi Jacques

sorry to hear this news... 

any information on what prop it was?


I've seen this pipistral many times here in Nelson, he's been flying over the rocks lots.

.....Over the old Edmonton muni was a relatively fortunate place to be.

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Jos might know more

Pipistrel normally use their own propeller  not sure for this one




or  ask  Jonas... the distributor




EDIT:  the propeller was a  WOODCOMP SR 3000



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FYI. The chute is purported to be a Galaxy which I have in my plane. Galaxy claims to deploy faster than the BRS as their rocket stays attached until lines are fully extended. Also the package may be larger as it is packed at a lower pressure and has a 10 year repack.


I'm not implying that the outcome would have been any different, just pointing out that, even chutes have different (or claimed) differences.

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