Thursday, May 03, 2007

Airspeed - Ballistic Recovery Parachutes with BRS CEO Larry Williams

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Long-time listeners to Airspeed will recall the episode we did last February about whole-airplane ballistic recovery parachutes and about Ballistic Recovery Systems, Inc., better known to some as BRS Parachutes.

I’m a fan of the whole idea of ballistic recovery chutes. They provide an out in those relatively rare cases where no amount of diligence, skill, or luck will prevent you and your aircraft from having an unplanned interface with the planet. I’m talking about a control surface malfunction, loss of certain instruments in IMC, midair collisions, and engine failures where you’re too low, over unlandable terrain, or flying at night.

Recent deployments in both a Cirrus SR22 and a German ultralight that produced the company’s 200th and 201st saves – as well as the popularity of the systems in new light sport aircraft – warrant revisiting the company and its products.

BRS was founded in 1980 and is based in South St. Paul, Minnesota. The company develops and commercializes whole-aircraft emergency recovery parachute systems for use primarily with general aviation and recreational aircraft.

BRS parachute systems are designed to safely lower the entire aircraft and its occupants to the ground in the event of an in-air emergency. The parachute system is designed for in-air emergencies that include mid-air collisions, structure failure, engine failure, pilot incapacitation, and unstable meteorological conditions, among other things. BRS is the largest manufacturer of whole-aircraft recovery systems in the world. Since inception, the company has delivered more than 23,000 systems that have been installed on general aviation aircraft (including more than 2,800 on FAA-certified aircraft).

As I disclosed the last time I covered BRS, I continue to own a small amount of the company’s stock and have held it since 2001. I try to let you guys know every time that I have anything that approaches a conflict of interest, so there it is. Take it for what it’s worth. I look at it as putting a little bit of my retirement fund where my mouth is.

We talked to Larry Williams, who is the chief executive officer, president, chief operating officer, and a director of BRS. Prior to joining BRS in 2000, he was vice president of business development at AmSafe Aviation in Phoenix, Arizona, the world’s largest manufacturer of aviation restraint systems. Prior to that and since 1995, he was group president at Rural/Metro Corporation, a Scottsdale, Arizona -based services company that engages in mobile health services, including emergency and non-emergency fire and ambulatory services. From 1985 to 1995, he was executive director of the Emergency Response Training Academy, a firm specializing in training of airport emergency response personnel.

Let’s go to the interview.

[Interview audio.]

E-mail us at or leave voicemail at 206-339-8697 any time - day or night.

BRS contact information:

Ballistic Recovery Systems, Inc.
300 Airport Road
South Saint Paul MN 55075-3551
Phone: 651.457.7491
Fax: 651.457.8651

Associated Press: Bigger Planes Need Bigger Parachutes -

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