Floating device for the Cirrus

To the engineers and ferry pilots of this forum:
Have anyone heard of any means to maintain a Cirrus floating after ditching?
Would it work if we drain both wing tanks and wrap an inflatable (large) buoys connected via a steel cable around the propeller?
Would the empty wings + such a nose buoy enough to maintain the Cirrus floating?
From the reports I read, within less than three minutes after ditching, it is gone to the deep. Must it be that way?
Thanks for the response

Homero

If you figure out the flotation part, the CAPS could make a pretty sweet sea anchor. It’d be fun just to see it shoot off and the insurance policy will pay the same either way.

Paul Boedecker

In reply to:


To the engineers and ferry pilots of this forum:
Have anyone heard of any means to maintain a Cirrus floating after ditching?


Homero,

I’m not a ferry pilot, and I’m the wrong kind of engineer - but here are my thoughts:

If I ever survive a ditching in my SR22, and assuming I get out of the airplane… I intend to try to sit on the fuselage, just forward of the vertical stabilizer, to try to keep the forward part of the airplane above the waterline. That way, I believe I’ll limit the opportunity for water to enter the fueslage .

After I’m off the airplane, I don’t really care if it sinks… so I’m not going to be draining fuel or putting inflatable buoys under it!

  • Mike.

In reply to:


Have anyone heard of any means to maintain a Cirrus floating after ditching?


Homero,

For years I have thought it would be neat to have an emergency float system in aircraft built into the lower wing and fuselage structure. Many helicopters, like the one below, carry very thin cylinders on their skids that expand to the size in the picture when deployed (I have attached a PDF that shows details). I would still carry a raft and lifejackets, of course, but I believe successful deployment of the raft under duress would be much more likely with an emergency flotation system for the Cirrus.

Not only would something like this provide emergency flotation, but it could also be used to cushion impacts. I know that the parachute deployments so far have been very successful and involved relatively “soft” landings, but every bit of protection helps.


1-106045-EC120BEmergencyFlotation.pdf (390 KB)

Funny you should raise this. I have wondered for some time why aircraft manufacturers do not fill the empty spaces in wings, lower fuselage etc with a light buoyant material. I even discussed this with Ian Bentley earlier this year and we thought about the possibility of filling the spaces with bags of ping pong balls! The additional weight is negligible, but certainly considerable buoyancy can be achieved. I recently played with some lightweight porous plastic cylinders in a swimming pool and from the way they were able to support my own weight I worked out that something like 10-15 cylinders of the stuff each of a length of about 1 metre and diameter 10 cms should be easily enough to support 3000lbs in water. Even if one did not achieve full floatability, anything of this sort added in the lower parts of the aircraft would help.

"From the reports I read, within less than three minutes after ditching, it is gone to the deep. Must it be that way?
Thanks for the response
Homero
[/quote]

Hey Homero,
Would be interesting to see what you come up with, but having done a lot testing with helo’s, we opted to lose the extra drag and weight of the floats and depend on the raft. One reason was the aircraft inevitably ended up floating upside down and the only place to sit was on the floats!
Also, attach the lanyard to the airplane BEFORE you take off. You have no idea what the crash, er landing, uh…impact sequence will be, nor do you know if you will remember to attach it before you throw it! If the raft doesn’t have a water activation device, it will sink.
I have a couple of friends alive, because the raft was thrown clear, inflated and they found it when they surfaced.
If you are going to ditch, obviously the CAPS deployment and landing is (IMHO) best. You can prepare the aircraft on the way down, change your pants and call Momma (and the USCG).
I would open the doors fully before impact. If you are able to stand and step out easily, well enough. I would throw the raft out and jump quickly. I would anticipate the airplane sinking within a matter of seconds and you want to get clear of the airplane and it’s shrouds as soon as possible. If the CAPS failed to deploy or for some reason you elect to ditch without deploying it, I would repin it before impact. I definitely would NOT deploy it after landing. No sense surviving to this point and being drug under by the CAPS.
The raft has your survival gear, (and hopefully your EPIRB) not the airplane, the airplane WILL sink. If you have a ditch kit, a portable aviation comm radio and GPS will come in handy communicating with possible rescuers.
If I am flying a single engine over cold water, I would also be wearing an exposure suit. The raft will not protect you from Hypothermia, nor will the airplane.
That ends the short lesson in Overwater Survival 101. Sorry to go on, but I have been involved in the recovery of several compadres and you can’t imagine how disorienting being trapped underwater in an aircraft is. I can’t stress the importance of getting OUT and AWAY from the airplane.
See DOPE on a ROPE (How do you put a picture within a post???)[:S]

Came across this photo and thought it might be of interest.

As owner of the only SR22 G2 in the Hawaiian Islands, I can assure you I think about it every take off. Bottom line: Pull CAPS, raft is behind my seat, all occupants wear vests at all times. Here are my kids in the back seat.

Am I correct in assuming that the landing gear is supposed to absorb some of the impact when you hit the ground using CAPS? If so, and you ditch using CAPS, wouldn’t the gear absorb none of a water impact? Would that in turn mean that occupants would be more likely to be injured or unconscious and therefore would be less likely to be able to exit the a/c quickly?

In reply to:


. . . assuming I get out of the airplane… I intend to try to sit on the fuselage, just forward of the vertical stabilizer, to try to keep the forward part of the airplane above the waterline. That way, I believe I’ll limit the opportunity for water to enter the fueslage .
After I’m off the airplane, I don’t really care if it sinks… so I’m not going to be draining fuel or putting inflatable buoys under it!

  • Mike.

I share your thoughts. I was recently involved in a ditching incident. I like you, sat on top until rescued. If you are sitting on top of the right craft on the South Florida waters, it doesn’t take long to get rescued. As a bonus, when they pick you up, they give you citizenship and maybe even, a drivers license

Mike,
I would not be trying to save the plane, since it would be insured, but avoiding to be inside a raft (even if you can open it on time before the whole thing turns into a submarine).
I am a sailor and know how unconrfortable a raft can be.

As I can see from the replies so far, such a device does not exist…
I thank you for your input. As you may remember, I intend to fly to Brazil and there is a lot of water on my way…
Homero

In reply to:


I share your thoughts. I was recently involved in a ditching incident. I like you, sat on top until rescued. If you are sitting on top of the right craft on the South Florida waters, it doesn’t take long to get rescued. As a bonus, when they pick you up, they give you citizenship and maybe even, a drivers license


Dennis,
I like your sense of humor…
Now seriously, if you had to ditch in the Atlantic, what would you prefer? Be inside a small life raft or stay inside your Cirrus, provided it could float?
Homero

In reply to:


Dennis,
I like your sense of humor…
Now seriously, if you had to ditch in the Atlantic, what would you prefer? Be inside a small life raft or stay inside your Cirrus, provided it could float?
Homero


You want me to get serious? Really !! OK, here goes.
A Cirrus is an airplane. It’s designed to fly
A life raft is designed to float
It is more stable than an airplane
It is the right color to attract attention
It should have survival equiptment on board
It is set up for easy ingress and egress
So, I guess I would have to say that, in the water, I would rather be in a raft.
Now, in the air, I prefer to ride a Cirrus.
3-101740-Yeehah.jpg

In reply to:


You want me to get serious? Really !! OK, here goes.
A Cirrus is an airplane. It’s designed to fly
A life raft is designed to float
It is more stable than an airplane
It is the right color to attract attention
It should have survival equiptment on board
It is set up for easy ingress and egress
So, I guess I would have to say that, in the water, I would rather be in a raft.
Now, in the air, I prefer to ride a Cirrus.


OK. I will be quiet… for now
Have a look at this link. very interesting on this subject.
Congratualtions on your ability with the photo shop.
http://www.equipped.org/1199ditch.htm

Homero

[
I’ve had two friends who have had to ditch different airplanes…one was a Warrior, ditched in the Chesapeake Bay…it immediately broke into a thousand pieces and went straight to the bottom (wings broke off, fuselage broke in half)…only because the back half of the fuselage had broken off was my friend barely able to get out. The other was a Pitts S2C, ditched in the South River near Annapolis, MD. It went under the water about 15 feet, then popped back up like a cork, all in one piece and virtually undamaged. Passengers had plenty of time to exit before it sank.

To me, the key to surviving a ditching is whether the plane survives the impact. I would assume a Cirrus is inherently stronger than a Warrior…but maybe not as strong as a Pitts…but landing under the chute in a ditching should practically guarantee enough time to toss a raft out and exit the plane safely…frankly, I’d be tempted to toss the raft out on the way down, yanking the inflate cord as it went out the door.

In reply to:


Homero,
For years I have thought it would be neat to have an emergency float system in aircraft built into the lower wing and fuselage structure. Many helicopters, like the one below, carry very thin cylinders on their skids that expand to the size in the picture when deployed (I have attached a PDF that shows details). I would still carry a raft and lifejackets, of course, but I believe successful deployment of the raft under duress would be much more likely with an emergency flotation system for the Cirrus.
Not only would something like this provide emergency flotation, but it could also be used to cushion impacts. I know that the parachute deployments so far have been very successful and involved relatively “soft” landings, but every bit of protection helps.


Thank you Andy. That’s what I am looking for. Have any idea how long the this system would mantain the craft afloat?
Homero

There was a survival “expert” who posted here many months ago who recommended popping the 'chute on touchdown in a ditch!

A foolhardy recommendation IMO but, by some theory never fully explained, he claimed that doing so might keep you afloat longer.

In reply to:


Thank you Andy. That’s what I am looking for. Have any idea how long the this system would mantain the craft afloat?


Homero,

In theory, the airplane could float for weeks as long as the floats remained intact. The problem is that, the system I’m suggesting would have to be a factory option, with the float storage cylinders built into the structure much like our parachute straps are stored in channels on the sides of our aircraft. It is not something that could be retrofitted on an aircraft. Additionally, a system like this would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (on the low side) to fully develop and test, so there would have to be a well-demonstrated need before a company would even consider offering an option like this. It sure would be nice, though. [:)]

If you are going to be over the water a lot, I would suggest getting some good egress training.

In reply to:


There was a survival “expert” who posted here many months ago who recommended popping the 'chute on touchdown in a ditch!
A foolhardy recommendation IMO but, by some theory never fully explained, he claimed that doing so might keep you afloat longer.


With all respect given to experts, If I have to ditch, I am doing it under chute. Why land with legs dangling at 70kts when I can decent vertically under chute?
P.S. I prepare myself on the way down. Life jackets, gear, door, etc. and heck, if the plane really floats. I just restart the engine and motor boat to land.

No it was to help find you in open water.