Ballistic Parachute Systems

Safety, Ballistic Parachutes

Tuesday 4 October, 2016

What is a Ballistic Parachute?

Also referred to as a ballistic reserve parachute or emergency ballistic reserve parachute, a ballistic parachute is a parachute ejected from the casing through a small explosion (much like that used in an ejection seat) in the event of emergency situation in the air.

Who are Ballistic Recovery Systems?

Ballistic Recovery Systems (commonly known as BRS or BRS Aerospace) are a manufacturer of aircraft ballistic parachutes.

When is it activated?

The BRS system is intended to be used only in an extreme emergency where recovery of the occupants of the airplane using other emergency procedures is not possible. If the airplane is controllable and structurally capable of flying to a safe landing site, the BRS system should not be activated.

Some scenarios for deployment of a BRS are:

  • Engine out over hostile terrain 
  • Stall/spin on approach
  • Pilot incapacitation
  • Structural failure 
  • Loss of control/icing (component failure, icing induced or pilot error)
  • Mid-air collision

What happens when activated?

Once activated, a well-packed parachute is pulled out from its housing by several solid rockets in a matter of seconds. Very shortly afterward - depending on the forward speed of the aircraft - the canopy will become fully inflated and will decelerate the aircraft. The aircraft will stabilise under the canopy quite quickly.

Will my aircraft be damaged?

Like any emergency landing, the damage can vary dependent on the actual terrain but using the BRS should be limited to emergencies where the cost of the aircraft is not the main concern. The damage in most cases is to the airframe gear, seats and frame. The deployments to date have resulted in aircraft that can and have been repaired.

What maintenance is required on a BRS system?

Repacking: To ensure certainty of operation when required, the parachutes must be inspected and repacked at a maximum of six years in accordance with the manufacturers’ maintenance requirements. This work must be done by BRS manufacturing (primarily due to the machine pressure packing of the canopy). The parachute and all lines will be removed and thoroughly inspected.
Before sending a chute for repacking, please contact the repack center for instructions.

Rockets: Are good for 6, 10 or 12 years depending on the type. Expired rockets should not be fired off! They are powerful and will have a dangerously unpredictable flight path without a parachute attached for stability. They have the ability to obtain a height of up to 10,000 feet if mishandled. Contact the manufacturer of the specific unit for disposal instructions.


How to dispose of a Rocket Motor

RAAus advise all members to contact BRS Aviation Australia who will provide instructions on the correct disposal of the obsolete motor as well as instructions for the new motor. BRS Aviation Australia are the authorised sales, installation and repacking station for BRS Aerospace.