Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Official Comment on Evektor Deploy

Enlightening news today from Vit Kotek, Marketing Manager for Evektor, that ties up the loose ends on the recent parachute deployment of an Evektor SportStar.
Vit’s statement, edited only for clarity:
“An accident of the SportStar RTC aircraft occurred during flight tests at Kunovice airport (LKKU) on 18th May, 2011.  The test pilot was performing spin testing at aft C.G.  The pilot successfully completed the program, after completing 30 spins.
Then he decided to perform a maneuver, which we’re still not fully clear about, which put the airplane into a flight condition the pilot could recover from.
He activated the ballistic parachute system which deployed successfully.
The airplane suspended below the parachute landed on a lake close to the airport and sunk after five minutes. The pilot swam safely to the shore. The airplane was fished out after six hours. The pilot was not injured.
The event proves the proper functioning of the ballistic recovery system and its installation, even though the airplane was partially damaged. 
The accident is being investigated by the Czech Air Accidents Investigation. Evektor-Aerotechnik wants to note that the accident happened during flight tests and not during normal airplane operation.
Further, more than 800 successful spins have been completed on the Eurostar and SportStar type since 2001 and tested airplanes always demonstrated very good spin recovery characteristics.
The last successful spin testing of the SportStar type was performed less than a year ago, and all required abnormal control use techniques for spin recovery were tested.
Microlight and Light Sport Airplanes are spin prohibited in normal operation.”
Thanks to our good friend Art Tarola of AB Flight in PA, the Northeast Evektor guy, for that update, and we’re glad the factory confirms the pilot wasn’t hurt.


Anonymous said...

Can anyone name a flight condition that affects light, fixed-wing aircraft, doesn't involve in-flight structural failure, can be irrecoverable, and is NOT a spin? A hang glider might tumble, but I've never heard of a tumbling plane with a conventional layout.
- Thomas

James Lawrence said...

Thomas, I think we can infer that the company isn't exactly sure yet how the pilot got the airplane into a non-recoverable situation, so they don't want to put the "unrecoverable spin" hoodoo onto it. The Czech news account I wrote my blog from last week used the language "spin" but it wasn't clear (I used Google translate!) whether that was from witnesses, who are often unreliable, or from the pilot.
Still, you're point is well taken.
For me, the good news is the chute worked perfectly, whatever flight crisis the plane was in. These things really work. Remember the post a ways back, the YouTube video of the Rans stunt plane that lost his wing just a few hundred feet AGL? That was freakin' unbelievable, and he popped the chute in under a second, gyrating wildly, and survived. I met the pilot at Sun 'n Fun at Rans booth.
And the Lambada motorgliders last year, two of them, that lost their tails overspeeding in heavy turbulence...both survived.
And the Skycatchers during test, two separate incidents, two parachute saves the pilots walked away from.
So for me, the story here isn't, yes, you can aft-CG spin an airplane, but yes, you can recover from an unrecoverable disaster with an airframe chute!

ザイツェヴ said...

Well, if the Vne (and Vd) are high enough, it's possible to enter compressibility effects zone. At some airplanes pilots reported that the stick felt like stuck in concrete. So, here's one... It is also possible to enter a completely symmetrical deep stall in other airplanes. With rudder being ineffectual due to lengthwise flow, pilots have to use asymmethric thrust to make it drop a wing, that weirdly enough makes recovery possible. I agree though, it's pretty impossible for any of these conditions to occur on Evektor.

Dr. Such's SportStar is not equipped with BRS, because he uses it for both SP and PP curriculums and has to train fat pilots in it.

Anonymous said...

Totally with you on the chutes. I think they're proving less popular after the initial rush of acceptance, because we're seeing more all-metal LSAs out there, and they just don't have useful load to spare in the same way the composite airframes do. People either need to get accustomed to composites, or ask the FAA to exclude the weight of the chute from the LSA weight limit. I think for LSA, with its older no-medical required pilot population, the chute makes a nice fallback for the passenger, too, in the event of the pilot being disabled by a medical event (such as loss of consciousness following a bird strike to the head!). Meanwhile, in the "big airplane" market, it appears that Cirrus owns the "I want a chute" segment, and the "I want the payload" segment splits across the other types.
- Thomas

James Lawrence said...

Excellent comments both, thank you.
Right on Thomas, I've heard a lot of talk about the weight allowance increase from FAA. Would like to see AOPA or someone get on the push for that...sure, it's great to have a float allowance, but are water ops that much more important?
I know we had this 1320 lb. limit forced on us but we can certainly live with that, as 115 models are proving every day.
But why force pilot/owners to make a choice against safety so they can carry more payload? Certain weight-challenged LSA like the Skycatcher and SportCruiser would surely like to be able to carry a chute and also have enough gas for more than an hour or two of operations before landing to refuel...rather than vote payload as you point out.
Would appreciate some clear thinking about priorities in this case...airframe chutes save many lives every year. Floats don't.