General Question

ragingloli's avatar

Were you to put a series of parachutes on an aeroplane, how big would they have to be to give a crashing plane a survivable landing?

Asked by ragingloli (49118points) August 1st, 2018

Or why not make every seat an ejector seat with its own parachute?

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15 Answers

rebbel's avatar

What kind of plane are we talking about?

RocketGuy's avatar

You can go here to see what they can sell you:

ragingloli's avatar

General Airline Passenger Aircraft.

gorillapaws's avatar

I wonder if the extra weight and necessary structural reinforcements to accommodate the stresses from the parachute(s) would make it impossible to retrofit into current aircraft designs. You might need to start from scratch. I am certainly not an aerospace engineer.

LuckyGuy's avatar

From 2009 “YUMA, Ariz.—- Airborne Systems, a world leader in parachute design and manufacturing, announced they successfully completed a test drop deploying an 18,000 lb payload from 17,500 MSL under a modified modular ram-air parachute. This testing was conducted as part of a US Army Natick Soldier Research Development & Engineering Center development program to investigate the use of a modular design for precision guided airdrop of heavy payload systems.>> Two of Airborne Systems’ products called MegaFly and GigaFly, are designed to carry heavy payloads (15K to 42K lbs) using GPS navigation to “steer” bulk supplies, equipment or vehicles to an intended point of impact. Both systems are modular and are assembled using five separate sections. When the sections are connected together to form a single large parafoil wing, the combined size is close to the wingspan of a Boeing 747 (211-ft).>> “One of the unique features of this design is the interchangeability of parafoil sections to function as a modular system,” said Brian Bagdonovich, Program Manager, for the US Army Natick Soldier RD&E Center. “The MegaFly parafoil was designed for 20–30K pound payloads. Using modular canopies to carry heavier loads, the MegaFly system can easily be converted to a GigaFly™ system by removing the 2,500 sq-ft center section of the MegaFly and replacing it with a 3,900 sq-ft center section. The benefit of this modular interchangeability is to allow the system to accommodate a higher payload up to a 42K pounds.”>> “Conversely, the modular concept can also be applied to accommodate smaller payloads,” said Bagdonovich.”

What if we only tried to save the passengers and let the rest of the commercial plane fall?. We could jettison the wings engine tail luggage. and have something strong enough to handle a module consisting of 20 tons of passenger and seats. It could be done.

kritiper's avatar

Every seat was an ejector seat? How much extra weight would that be, and how many less passengers would it mean? Not to mention the added expense of purchase/maintenance! It would probably be better to go back to the days of propeller driven aircraft, and make them all gliders.

rebbel's avatar

@ragingloli Sorry, can’t help you then.

RocketGuy's avatar

The problem with jettisoning the wings is that it will be used no more than once in a plane’s lifetime. The rest of the time it is there taking up weight and risking letting go at the wrong time.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

I think current practice is reasonable.

US airlines are averaging about 1 fatality per decade.

April 17, 2018 – Passenger Killed On Southwest Flight Is the First U.S. Commercial Airline Fatality In 9 Years

stanleybmanly's avatar

How big is the plane?

Zaku's avatar

Filling an airliner with launchable ejector seats and parachutes and launch rails and detachable roof sections and a launch coordination system (to prevent all the rocket chairs, roof sections, and parachutes from hitting each other) sounds like a hilarious degree of over-engineering for something that would very rarely be used.

It would certainly be spectacular to see a crashing airliner launch hundreds of passengers…

It would add a lot of weight and extra gear to be maintained, and cut space for passengers and luggage.

But maybe there is a niche market. It could be operated by a new airline called Paranoia Airlines.

johnpowell's avatar


And I watch a ton of that air craft investigation show.

I have seen every episode multiple times.

I can only think of a few episodes where a “soft landing” would be applicable. You generally crash really close to the ground on takeoff or landing. Or the plane falls so fast parachutes would just get shredded upon deployment. Or you hit a mountain.

The fuel burned from all the extra weight would kill more people because climate change is not fake news. And the cost would skyrocket.

Read this to see just how much they care about every extra kilo.

kritiper's avatar

Any parachute(s) would probably have to be as wide as the wings and as long as the fuselage.

kritiper's avatar

Another point about ejector seats: They have a parachute to slow their descent to the point where the person seated there on jumps off and deploys their own chute.

flutherother's avatar

Fifty thousand square feet of fireproofed nylon.

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