Ballistic Recovery Systems

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ballistic Recovery Systems
Type Public
Traded as OTC Pink: BRSI
Industry Aerospace
Founded 1980
Founders Boris Popov
Headquarters St Paul, Minnesota, United States
Key people CEO and President Larry Williams
Vice President, Sales & Marketing Gary Moore
Products Parachute systems

Ballistic Recovery Systems (commonly BRS and BRS Aerospace) is a manufacturer of aircraft ballistic parachutes.

The company was formed in 1980 by Boris Popov after he survived a 400-foot (120 m) fall in a partially collapsed hang glider in 1975. As a result Popov invented a parachute system which would lower an entire light aircraft safely to the ground, assuring minimal, if any, injuries or casualties among its occupants. Typically with this system there is moderate structural damage to the aircraft immediately after parachute deployment and during the subsequent landing and recovery. The system can be used in the event of loss of control, failure of the aircraft structure, or other in-flight emergencies.[1]

Popov was granted a U.S. patent on 26 August 1986 for the so-called Ballistic Recovery System (BRS) - patent US 4607814 A.[2]


BRS was founded in 1980 and introduced its first parachute model two years later in 1982, with the focus on the ultralight aircraft market. The company recorded its first successful aircraft and crew recovery in 1983: Jay Tipton of Colorado.[1]

In 1998 the company collaborated with Cirrus Design to develop the first recovery parachute system to be used on a type certified aircraft, the Cirrus SR20. The design was named CAPS (Cirrus Airframe Parachute System), and was first tested over the high deserts of California by late Air National Guard F-16 pilot and Chief Cirrus test pilot, Scott D. Anderson.[3] In 2002 BRS received a supplemental type certificate to install their parachute system in the Cessna 172, followed by the Cessna 182 in 2004 and the Symphony SA-160 in 2006.[1]

In response to the 2008 economic crisis and associated falling orders, the company announced in November 2008 that it would lay-off 25% of its workforce for an indefinite time period.[4]


Ballistic rescue parachutes[edit]


A solid-fuel rocket is used to pull the parachute out from its housing and deploy the canopy fully within seconds. Typically on ultralight installations the rocket is mounted on the parachute container. On larger aircraft installations the rocket may be remotely mounted.

Over the years the BRS systems employed have been improved and updated and the current version is the BRS-6. This has a separate rocket installation that can be removed from the parachute so the parachute can be sent for re-packing without the problems of trying to ship the rocket as well. Typically the parachute requires repacking every six years and the rocket requires replacing every 12 years.

Rescues completed[edit]

The first ballistic recovery parachutes were on the market in 1982, and the first deployment was in 1983. Between then and April 2007, over 225 people were aboard 201 aircraft which deployed BRS parachutes; most of whose lives were presumably saved by those parachute deployments.[5]

Aircraft supported[edit]

BRS Models are available for:

Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS)[edit]

NASA photo series showing the CAPS deployment in action.

The CAPS is a ballistic parachute recovery system designed specifically for Cirrus Design's line of general aviation aircraft including the SRV, SR20 and SR22. The design was adapted from the GARD system initially released for the Cessna 150.[7] As in other BRS systems a solid-fuel rocket, housed in the aft fuselage, is used to pull the parachute out from its housing and deploy the canopy full within seconds. The goal of employing this system is the survival of the crew and passengers and not necessarily the prevention of damage to the airframe.

Since the landing gear and firewall are part of the structure designed to be crushed for energy absorption during impact after parachute deploy, Cirrus originally thought that the airframe would be damaged beyond repair on impact. But the first aircraft to deploy (N1223S)[8] landed in mesquite and was not badly damaged. Cirrus bought the airframe back, repaired it, and used it as a demo plane. It was eventually sold to another owner who destroyed it in a crash short of the runway.[9]

CAPS deployments[edit]

As of 23 October 2014, the CAPS has been activated 62 times, 49 successfully with 99 survivors and 1 fatality in equipped aircraft. No fatalities, unsescesful deployments or anamolies (with the exception of one that is still under investigation) have occurred when the parachute was deployed within the certified speed and altitude parameters. Some additional deployments have been reported by accident, as caused by ground impact or post-impact fires. 9 of the aircraft involved in CAPS deployments have been put back into service.[10]


On 18 July 2008 BRS announced that its new 5000-series canopy had completed compliance testing to ASTM International standards. This new parachute system is intended to provide a recovery capability for much larger aircraft, including very light jets. Initial applications may include the Diamond D-Jet, Cirrus Vision SF50 and Lancair Evolution. FAA certification is being pursued to allow installation on certified aircraft.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c BRS Aerospace (2009). "BRS History". Archived from the original on 5 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  2. ^ "Patent US4607814 - Ballistic recovery system - Google Patents". 26 August 1986. Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Fallows, James (June 2001). "Freedom of the Skies". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2014-07-16. 
  4. ^ Grady, Mary (November 2008). "BRS Lays Off A Quarter Of Staff". Archived from the original on 6 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-27. 
  5. ^ "BRS Lives Saved". Archived from the original on 25 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  6. ^ BRS Announces 11th LSA Installation Complete: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance
  7. ^ BRS to offer parachute system for Cessna 150
  8. ^ National Transportation Safety Board (October 2002). "NTSB Accident Identification: FTW03LA005". Retrieved 2008-12-14. 
  9. ^ National Transportation Safety Board (September 2004). "NTSB Accident Identification: CHI04FA255". Retrieved 2008-02-06. 
  10. ^ Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association (10 May 2014). "Cirrus CAPS History". Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  11. ^ Pew, Glenn (July 2008). "BRS Announces Possible VLJ Parachute". Archived from the original on 3 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 

External links[edit]