As I continue to meditate on the recommended grounding of my 601XL, I find myself more frequently browsing the ads in Barnstormer. One caught my eye today for a Ballistic Recovery Chute for $1200. My mind then wandered to a concept learned many years ago in an Economics class. The concept of opportunity cost - if I spend my money on mods, I will not be able to spend it on other things. Whatever I don't buy because of the mods represents an opportunity cost of the mods.

I still don't have any good information about what the mods will cost. I suspect materials and labor will be way more than a BRS system installed. So which option would increase my overall safety? My plane has flown fine for 400 hours and it is light due to the Rotax. I had complied with all prior recommendations and inspections. What is the probability that I am going to have an in-flight break-up due to design coupled with operational issues? A BRS system would protect me and others from break-up during most phases of flight. It would also protect me if I inadvertently wandered into IMC and became spatially disoriented. It would protect me if my engine quit and I couldn't find a suitable place to land or if I became incapacitated in flight it would protect me and maybe a passenger. The mod, on the other hand, may prevent an in-flight break-up but that is it.

All else being equal, I would rather shell out the bucks for a BRS and not tear my airplane apart. Given that there is no clear cause and effect identified for the 601 incidents, shouldn't an owner be given this as an option?

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Comment by brad cohen on November 14, 2009 at 12:36pm
Just ordered my BRS from U-Fly-It light sport aircraft of Deland, Florida. Parachute, rocket, bridles and hazmat shipping for right at $5,000.00
I am also waiting to order my Upgrade kit from ZAC. Yes, it does suck, but considering all the work that has gone into the airplane thus far, are the 40 hours or so (my guess) really going to make that much difference? how can you NOT agree to spend the extra time, effort, and yes, money; especially when you have family and loved ones riding next to you, trusting you, trusting that you did everything you could to make the plane as safe as possible? We ask wives/girlfreinds/boyfriends/husbands, etc to trust our judgement and skills, from the first day that we rip into that bigg-ass crate to the first long cross country. Sorry for my rambling vent, but if ZAC wants me to add a right-handed doodad to my plane in the name of safety, I'll gladly give them my Mastercard number (can't use Discover though, it's maxed out from the BRS)
Comment by JG Ginther on November 13, 2009 at 6:47pm
What happens Doug when you do the mods and you are flying along and it starts to flutter and you find yourself wishing you had a BRS? If they don't know what caused the accidents, how can they know what will prevent the next one.

I know that there are other considerations like the FAA and re-sale value. I pose the question because I think it is worth examining just how much safer we are really going to be and is there a comparable solution with higher utility?
Comment by Doug Sire on November 13, 2009 at 6:24pm
Well, be sure to always carry a calculator with you when you fly. That way when your aircraft is torn apart in a split second by flutter, you are ejected from the aircraft through the bottom (as was the case with a couple in their 70s who were occupants in the Yuba City crash) and you BRS chute drifts uselessly behind you (assuming you even had time to deploy it) you can double check your cost benefit calculations.

Doug Sire
Comment by JG Ginther on November 13, 2009 at 5:08pm
Geez Steve, that is like wearing two condoms.

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