Cirrus Design is studying expanding the speed at which the SR20 light aircraft's emergency parachute can be deployed, following its certification with the current production system.

The Ballistic Recovery System (BRS) parachute is designed to be deployed from the SR20 in the event of an engine failure or a loss of control. Certification tests in California proved the system could be used safely at aircraft weights up to 1,400kg (3,100lb) and speeds in excess of 160kt (850km/h). "In a worst-case scenario" at close to maximum take-off weight, the parachute gives a descent rate of 1,500ft/min [7m/s]," says Cirrus chief engineer Paul Johnston.

"Our goal is to push past 170kt, and we have a plan to do that," says Johnston. BRS is working with NASA on technologies to allow the parachute to be used at higher speeds. Johnston adds that other aircraft manufacturers and groups are asking about the BRS system. "There is interest about the parachute from other companies, but it is not just a simple add-on," he says.

Johnston says the US Department of Defense is interested in an emergency recovery system for the Slingsby T-3A Firefly primary trainer, which has had fatal crashes in US Air Force service.

Cirrus, which struck a "shares for sales" deal with BRS last month, is flight testing production aircraft number 8. It hopes for US production certification by the end of the year.

Source: Flight International