Rescue parachute

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A rescue parachute (also known as an emergency parachute in Switzerland ) is a parachute that is intended exclusively for use for the purpose of rescue (usually if there is a shortage of air ) and is carried as a preventive measure.


Controllability, accommodation and deployment depend on the type of aircraft, conceivable emergency scenarios and basic possible uses. Functional considerations may also require more complex systems in which the actual rescue parachute is then only a system component, such as the ejection seat or the overall rescue systems that are sometimes used in larger air sports equipment and small aircraft . Parachutes were also tested in which the round cap is "blown open" by means of pyrotechnic sentences. This process, known as "ultrafast opening", can even unfold the umbrella while standing on the ground.

In Germany, rescue parachutes are a separate aircraft class in accordance with Section 1 (2) No. 8 LuftVG .

The following types of parachutes can be distinguished:


Paraglider and hang glider

In contrast to the rescue parachutes in larger aircraft, with these aerial sports devices the pilot and his device are attached to the reserve parachute. This has the advantage that there is no phase in which the pilot falls free and gains speed. A corresponding loss of height is avoided. In addition, with paragliders and hang-gliders, there is often only a few hundred meters from the ground. One of the most important tasks of the reserve parachute is therefore to open very quickly and reliably.

In Germany and Austria , paragliders and hang-glider pilots must carry a rescue parachute with them for flights above 50 m above ground, in Switzerland only for test flights . (In Germany it has been mandatory to carry an umbrella since 1976.)

With a paraglider , the rescue parachute is attached to the harness in a special container in front of the pilot or to the side of the pilot. Alternatively, it can be placed under the seat or in the back of the harness .

With the hang glider, the umbrella is integrated into the pilot's apron in the chest / stomach area. The package is secured with Velcro fasteners. The lifeline or connecting line of the rescue parachute is led to the snap hook, which connects the pilot and harness with the aircraft.

The rescue parachute is deployed by hand by pulling the deployment handle. The parachute package falling down due to gravity opens up due to the airflow.

Other systems, which are mainly used on motorized hang-gliders , catapult the umbrella package out of its container with springs, compressed air or pyrotechnic means . This more complex technology has the advantage that the reserve parachute is reliably thrown in a direction that avoids the propeller. In addition, it does not require a coordinated throw from the pilot, but is triggered by pressing a button. This shortens the time until the umbrella opens.


The reserve parachute (also reserve parachute ) in parachuting is generally not considered a rescue parachute, but belongs to the jump parachutes . Failure to open the main canopy while maintaining the safety opening height is not considered to be an immediate shortage of air, but in principle only as a disruption to the normal course of the jump, which after the main canopy has been removed and the reserve opened, the intended parachute jump is continued almost safely. The main umbrella and reserve could in principle also be swapped.


In commercial aircraft no rescue parachutes normally be carried in military and transportation machinery is usually for the crew a certain number of rescue parachutes on board. Smaller military aircraft also usually have more complex rescue systems such as the ejector seat , in which the rescue parachute is only one component.

Most of the occupants of smaller powered aircraft and touring motor gliders do not wear a rescue parachute, as the doors and seats are usually not designed for carrying rescue parachutes.

In glider flight , rescue parachutes are usually carried by pilots and passengers. In an emergency, the pilot and passenger can leave the cockpit. In training, aerobatics and competitions, rescue parachutes are required for gliding. The rescue parachutes used are available in manual (released by hand), forced released (pull-up rope attached to the aircraft) or a combined form with both release variants. In the 1960s to the early 1970s, Herbert Gillmann from Munich regularly demonstrated deep jumps . He jumped out of sport aircraft with an automatic triangular parachute (Kohnke) from a height of 50 m, especially to demonstrate to glider pilots that they can use their rescue parachutes even at low altitudes. After this demonstration, glider pilots were able to do a test jump in the Parachute Sportspringer Club Bayern e. V. (renamed Fallschirm-Sportclub München e.V. since 1972) - but from a height of 400 m.

For ultralight , glider and smaller powered aircraft, there are total rescue systems on which the entire aircraft can slide to the ground in an emergency. In Germany, a total rescue system for microlight aircraft is required by law.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. US NAVY HELICOPTER ESCAPE CAPSULE BALLISTIC SYSTEM EJECTION DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM FILM 17104. US Navy, accessed on January 31, 2020 ("Ultrafast opening" from 10:40 min).