I’ve had a lot of people asking me about airplanes with parachutes lately, so I thought it would make for a worthy post here.
In short, yes, there is an airplane that has a parachute on it. It’s manufactured by Cirrus and it’s called CAPS (Cirrus Airframe Parachute System). If you find yourself out of control and expect that a crash may be imminent, you pull the handle and a 55 foot parachute is deployed to bring the airplane down to the ground. Go to the Cirrus site for more info and a video of it in action.
There have been a handful of successful deployments of the parachute, and for that reason alone it seems like a great idea to me. Why not have that extra level of safety built in so that you know if all else fails, you can still make it down alive.
Can this work for commercial airliners? Hmm, that’s a tougher issue. The Cirrus is a lightweight single engine plane. Commercial airliners are a lot heavier, fly faster and higher, and need a bigger area to put down. It’s definitely a much greater challenge, and I don’t even know whether it’s possible. Still, wouldn’t it be nice?