On ultralight aircraft, the installation of an airframe parachute was estimated at a third to half of all aircraft. In general aviation, the use of such a system on the Cirrus Design line of aircraft created thousands of airframe parachute owners. In Light-Sport, three producers — BRS, Magnum (Stratos 07), and Galaxy — have installed airframe parachutes on a solid percentage of SLSA. Sounds like it’s all taken care of, right? Wrong! *** The trouble with existing producers is that little or no new development work is being done for Part 103 ultralights, powered parachutes, or trikes. Likewise many kit-built aircraft have no supplier willing to customize an airframe parachute for their (possibly one-off) airplane. Now, that’s changing. *** An old friend, John Dunham, once ran Second Chantz, the other airframe parachute company in the USA (besides BRS). In the mid-’90s, he made a deal with BRS and left the business. Now, 15 years later… he’s back! I announced this in an earlier post, and in the meantime, John has worked on reviving his former business. While BRS does fine at supplying larger producers, that company’s diversification into other product lines has left small producers or kit builders with no where to turn if they wanted an airframe parachute. *** Second Chantz has their website up and running now and a quick visit shows they have products for lighter aircraft now and for somewhat larger aircraft in planning. Plus the prices are great, much lower than what producers pay for systems installed on Light-Sport models (though admittedly, those systems are larger and ASTM certified, and therefore costlier). *** Second Chantz is also reviving their work on a non-pyrotechnic rocket. Their compressed nitrogen system has more potential than ever, said John, because technology has improved since he left the business 15 years ago. *** But some of the best news is that Dunham is willing to service units left abandoned by the bigger producers. So, if you have a Second Chantz system, or certain older BRS systems, or if you just want a parachute for your light aircraft, contact John and see what he can do for you. Doing so could save your life one day!
I know, super old article, but as an update: non-pyrotechnic parachutes are currently made by Comelli srl in Italy: http://www.comellisrl.com
I haven’t tried them personally.
To anyone interested in doing business with John Dunham and Second Chantz, it should be public knowledge that he stole $4,200 from me in 2015 under the premise of selling me a parachute, then lied about its progress for months, then admitted he spent my money on his personal medical expenses, and had no intention of paying me back. He has stopped responding to all contact attempts.
Dan Johnson says
This is discouraging to hear. I once knew John Dunham quite well. When he was a competitor to BRS — where I worked for a while in the ’90s — he proved quite adept despite being a much smaller enterprise. He was quite innovative, too.
However, I have also completely lost contact with him. Various attempts to reach him have gained no reply. The bad news is, I have no info about an old friend. The good news is, no one should have any money disputes with him going forward.
I cannot help you, David, but I will put your post online.
John Coyier says
Any idea if anyone is still making custorm non-pyro parachute systems now? Looks like Second Chantz has disappeared. John Dunham’s Nevada phone number rings through to a different person.
Dan Johnson says
Hi John: I am not aware of any air or other propulsion system for airframe parachutes these days. I know the Second Chantz unit and John Dunham but I have lost contact with him. The market has largely gone to LSA-sized systems and larger. While systems for lighter aircraft are still common on ultralights and suppliers offer products for them, the development has been directed to larger aircraft.
Don Heitman says
My name is Don Heitman. Last Fall Alister Wilson sent you my parachute, rocket, and $1200 to inspect and repack. Would you tell us the status of my equipment?
Dan Johnson says
Hi Don: To what company did you send your parachute and rocket? BRS? Second Chantz? Magnum? Perhaps you believe I am associated with one of those companies as I did formally work with BRS, however, I left BRS 14 years ago. I can make inquiries if you tell me which company you are using for service but you did not send your gear to me.
How do I disarm my Second Chanz parachute recovery system?
Dan Johnson says
Second Chantz is very long out of business, as you surely know. I would contact either Magnum Parachutes USA or BRS Aerospace, however, remember that neither is obliged to assist you. Yet in the interest of safety for an industry they serve, I believe they may tell you specific things you could do to disarm that system. I have significant experience with such devices; even though it is old, I urge you to treat it as though it is live and potentially dangerous.