Adding a Parachute to C-172

Written by Steven Ells
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December 2015

Q: Dear Steve,

I have owned and flown my 1973 Cessna 172 for over 30 years now. It fits what I want to do. (I also am still driving my 1982 Ford 150 pickup!)

Not too long ago I talked to a guy that had lived through an engine failure at night because his airplane had a parachute.

When he couldn’t get the engine to restart, he slowed up and pulled the parachute. It lowered his airplane to what he said was a surprisingly gentle “landing.”

He opened the door, and he and his wife and teenage daughter climbed out. His Cirrus aircraft was damaged, but he wasn’t. He told me that the parachute saved his family’s life.

Here’s why I’m writing: I don’t plan to quit flying anytime soon, but I do know that although I have lots of flying experience, I need to face the fact that I’m getting older. My wife would like me to hang up my headset and sell my airplane. I want to keep flying.

I don’t want to buy a newer airplane with a parachute—but I think I could negotiate a deal with my wife to let me keep flying for another five years if I had a parachute on my airplane. Is there a parachute available for my 172?

—Safety Sam

A: Dear Sam,

Don’t hang up that headset yet. BRS Aerospace, the same company that manufactures the parachute system for every Cirrus ever built also sells an approved system for your 172.

According to BRS, it has shipped over 30,000 parachute systems.

A complete new system for your 172 sells for $13,905. The estimate to successfully install the system in your airplane is 45 hours, and the entire installation weighs 79 pounds. According to a spokesman for BRS, the installation can be done at any location by any competent A&P mechanic.

The BRS fuselage parachute system is pretty easy to use. Slow the airplane below 110 knots, remove the safety pin, then pull the deployment lever. (The handle to deploy the parachute in a 172 is located on the floor between the pilot and copilot seats.) The system will shoot the parachute canister out through the back window of your 172.

The chute will deploy, and the airplane—and you—will float down at approximately 21 feet per second. According to BRS, that’s equivalent to the impact that results from a drop from a height of seven feet. The airplane will require some work to get it back to airworthiness.

Happy flying.

 

Know your FAR/AIM and check with your mechanic before starting any work.

Steve Ells has been an A&P/IA for 43 years and is a commercial pilot with instrument and multi-engine ratings. Ells also loves utility and bush-style airplanes and operations. He’s a former tech rep and editor for Cessna Pilots Association and served as associate editor for AOPA Pilot until 2008. Ells is the owner of Ells Aviation (EllsAviation.com) and lives in Templeton, Calif. with his wife Audrey. Send questions and comments to .