UAV Propulsion Tech Post #5 – Rescue/Recovery Parachutes


Rescue/Recovery Parachutes:

This weeks post focuses on rescue/recovery parachute solutions for UAV’s.   At the moment, most small UAV’s don’t have a rescue parachute but they are a great idea to protect the air vehicle/payload asset as well as protect any people or property.  Parachute solutions are used on rockets and even Cirrus Aircraft has a ballistic recovery solution if there is a problem with the engine.  Here is a great video where a guy was trying to fly from CA to Hawaii and ran out of gas recently.  This video highlights how these types of systems can work to save people and assets.

Hobby mult-icopters are becoming very popular for aerial photography but most don’t have a parachute system.  At this year’s CES in Vegas, a Chinese manufacturer came out with a new multi-copter that includes a rescue chute. The company is Hubsan and here is a video with more info.  There are companies that are developing “bolt on” parachute solutions for multi-copters but the challenge is always weight and deployment means.  You want to make sure the parachute can deploy successfully at low altitudes (say 20-30m), for these hobby multi-copter solutions.  Some deployment means include: spring, compressed air, or ballistics.

Several UAV manufacturers are seeing the benefits in adding a rescue chute to protect the expensive air vehicle and payloads of defense UAV’s in case of a system failure.  Some are also using the parachute as a recovery method making it runway independent and it produces less stress on the air vehicle compared to net or wire capture methods.  There are several ways to mount these systems on fixed wing UAV’s.  I have shown a typical opening sequence below:

deployment sequence

Figure 1: Graphic showing deployment of rescue/recovery chute on fixed wing UAV

Parachute technology is advancing to provide lightweight solutions for the UAV market.  These systems will become more important as commercial applications are flying over civilian areas.  There are various methods and these systems can be customized to meet the UAV manufacturers requirements for max speed at deployment and max sink rate.  You can find out more about these systems by going to

Key UAV News for the week:

Industry Events for the week:

Quote for the week:

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” – Richard Branson

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