Saturday, May 03, 2014

Decision to Use an Airframe Parachute in a Flight Training Environment

Scott R. Winter, Florida Institute of Technology - Melbourne
Richard O. Fanjoy, Purdue University
Chien-Tsung Lu, Purdue University
Thomas Q. Carney, Purdue University
James P. Greenan, Purdue University


The purpose of this study was to complete a qualitative analysis of the decision-making process used by pilots to determine whether or not to deploy an airframe parachute system. A sample of participants from the subject university’s flight training program was selected to complete a scripted simulator flight in instrument flight conditions. During the flight, participants experienced an engine failure while enroute during IFR conditions. The script was examined and validated by an expert panel who determined use of the airframe parachute was the most appropriate outcome for the scenario. Interestingly, only 9 of the 21 participants responded as expected by the expert panel and deployed the parachute system; only three of the nine followed the correct deployment procedure as outlined in the Pilot’s Operating Handbook. Analysis of a post-flight survey completed by participants provides insights into the decision-making process used by pilots and offers explanations on why or why not participants used the airframe parachute.

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