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Some light aircraft now have airframe parachutes. If a pilot does have to pull the chute on a Cirrus (for example), is the aircraft flyable or at least repairable after landing or is it a write-off? What G forces are involved in the impact?

I realize that there are lots of possible variables here, but let's assume that the parachute deploys correctly and in plenty of time for a stabilized descent; touchdown is in 'ideal' conditions, i.e. on level, unobstructed ground; and impact forces are as described in the Cirrus CAPS guide:

The airplane will assume its touchdown attitude to optimize occupant protection. The airplane will descend under the canopy at less than 1700 fpm and ground impact is expected to be equivalent to dropping from a height of 13 feet (about 4 meters). The airframe, seats and landing gear are all designed to absorb the impact energy.

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For the Cirrus at least, it sounds like that the odds are that the plane will be a loss. Thus far of 53 CAP deployments, only "9 CAPS Planes that Were Repaired and Flew Again"

Revision A7 of the Cirrus SR22 POH currently states "CAPS deployment is expected to result in damage to the airframe" that updates the earlier language that "The system is intended to saves the lives of the occupants but will most likely destroy the aircraft."

https://www.cirruspilots.org/copa/safety_programs/w/safety_pages/723.cirrus-caps-history.aspx

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  • $\begingroup$ "Expected to result in damage to the airframe" would seem to be the order of the day for all airframe parachute systems -- the airframe might not be a total loss, but it will pretty much definitely be an insurance case for inspection/repair. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Jan 17 '14 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ In reading the details, I found it interesting that of the 9 planes that flew again, 2 were later involved in serious accidents again. $\endgroup$ – abelenky Jan 17 '14 at 19:44
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    $\begingroup$ Airframe damage is expected. The gear is part of the structure that would be called the "crush zone" in an automobile - an area that is considered expendable as it absorbs energy from the crash to protect the occupants. Will the airplane be repairable? Sure! How much money do you have? Seriously, it is likely the plane will be totalled by the insurance company... and this is why you have insurance. $\endgroup$ – Skip Miller Jan 17 '14 at 22:17

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