The Butler Parachute Systems Group specializes in the design, engineering, manufacture and testing of parachutes, recovery systems and related items. The company also provides recovery systems design, consulting, manufacturing and testing services to government agencies, aerospace firms and other parachute companies. We are particularly adept at the rapid development of new parachute and recovery systems for unusual applications. Butler Parachute Systems Group is a small business concern owned by a Vietnam era service-disabled veteran.
Butler Parachute Systems Group, Inc. is the holding company for its subsidiary companies outlined below, according to the product line in which they specialize.
Butler Parachute Systems, Inc. is the world leader in the development of aircrew emergency equipment. BPS provides equipment for aerobatic and flight test pilots, smoke-jumpers and any kind of aircrew personnel. Most designs are custom-made to fit the individual user. We also specialize in the design, engineering, and manufacturing of parachute systems for use by special operations forces worldwide. Tactical applications include mass-assault troop delivery, war-fighting and re-supply equipment, and general cargo delivery for rescue operations. Butler Parachute Systems also specializes in complete recovery systems for unmanned applications, such as Unmanned Air Systems (UAS/UAV), target drones, rockets, and munitions.
Butler Aerospace Technologies, Inc. Legally, BAT is not part of the holding company but it cooperates closely with BPSG on product development. All divisions offer canopies which utilize the BAT Sombrero Slider (US Patent #5,890,678) and it variants. The basic concept is that immediately upon line stretch, the skirt of the canopy is symmetrically forced open, and then the air flow is metered into the canopy at a controllable, predictable and tunable rate. In well over 1,000 test drops with canopies from 16-feet Do to 88-foot Do, there have been no random failures or malfunctions.
Butler Parachute Systems was established in 1979 by founder Manley C. Butler Jr. It was moved from California City, California, to Roanoke, Virginia in early 1995. Our facility was completely gutted and remodeled on our behalf, just prior to our move. BPS occupies 21,000 SF with additional space that will be made available for expansion in the future as needed.
For most design work (parachute and mechanical), we use AutoCAD and Solid Works with an E-size roll-feed color plotter (to plot full-size patterns for most parts), two B-size PostScript Laser Printers (one color) and two very large format plotter-cutters (see below). We have numerous Pentium (2000/XP) computers running on a Windows network with associated printers as well as the other usual office equipment.
We have over 65 sewing machines of various types, an 80-foot manual cutting table, two CNC single-ply hot-knife cutting, plotting and marking tables (76’ x 8’ & 64’x 7’), a 72-foot line table with tensioning/marking devices, three long packing tables, a 5-ton Dillon tensile tester, a 5-ton and a 20-ton electronic load cell/computer tensile tester. A 50-ton press for packing and a 20 cubic foot computer controlled oven with a vacuum pump for temperature setting of high density packs.
We also have a complete manual machine shop (lathe, mill, surface grinder, band saws, 50-ton press, etc.), equipment for TiG, MiG, arc and gas welding, a hand-held 1” capacity plasma cutter, and a CNC plasma cutter (1” capacity mild-steel; 3/4” stainless, 1/2” aluminum) as well as basic sheet metal equipment (brake, shear, roll) . Please ask if you need more details.
Butler Parachute Systems has the experience, the personnel and the facilities to design and manufacture a wide variety of parachutes and recovery system components and equipment ranging from small sub-munitions decelerators (8-inch) to solid cloth canopies up to 154 feet in diameter. We do not manufacture or service any equipment for skydiving.
All personnel parachute products are FAA Approved and manufactured under TSO C23. The Quality Control System is FAA Approved under FAR 21.601 as applied to parachute products. All Invoice, Purchasing, Inspection and Quality Control materials tracking information is maintained in a database. The Quality Control system exceeds the requirements of MIL-I-45208. BPS is proceeding with an implementation program designed to achieve ISO-9001-2000 registration.
Manley C. Butler, Jr. serves as the President and the Chairman of the Board. He has a B.S. Degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, where in 1976 he began to work in parachute systems use, design, testing and manufacturing; he served for three years as a combat aircrewman in the US Navy on the S3A Viking; and holds an FAA Master Parachute Rigger license with all ratings. He also worked for four years as a Project Engineer/Program Manager in the Recovery Systems Design Branch at the Naval Weapons Center at China Lake, California, and worked for one year as Director of Engineering at ParaFlite, Inc. in Pennsauken, New Jersey. He is a licensed private pilot and an experienced parachutist with over 1,200 jumps.
Roberto Montañez is the General Manager and Vice-President of Operations. He is in charge of the day to day operations of the company. Roberto has a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Parks College of Saint Louis University. Roberto has worked in the parachute industry since 1995. He has experience in the design and integration of parachute and electronic control systems, testing and instrumentation, and computer modeling and simulations. He is a skydiver and holds a private pilot license. Roberto serves as President of the Parachute Industry Association and is a trustee of the International Skydiving Museum and Hall of Fame.
Tom Fowler is the Technical Support and Sales Manager for Butler personnel parachutes. He also manages the custom designs in the harness/container department. Tom has a B.S. degree in English from Radford University. He has worked in the parachute industry since 1982. Tom has experience in every aspect of the parachute industry including research, development, and testing of emergency bailout systems for pilots. He is an FAA Master Parachute Rigger with all ratings and has serviced and packed over 8,000 emergency systems. Tom has 3,800 parachute jumps including 748 test jumps. Thirty-seven of these live tests were jumps on round canopies designed for pilot emergency bailout systems.
Linda Mowles is the Plant Manager for Butler Parachutes. She has been with Butler Parachutes for 5 years, and has over 25 years of other experience in the textile industry.
Tim McCord is the Rigging Department Manager and Harness/Container Department Supervisor. He is a twenty-one-year retired Army Veteran and is rated as a Master Parachutist, Military Freefall Parachutist, and Army Parachute Rigger. Tim holds an A.A. in CADD and Business Management. He has worked in the parachute industry since 1976 and is an FAA Master Parachute Rigger with all ratings. Tim has packed and serviced well over 10,000 military and civilian parachute systems and has worked in parachute research, development, test jumping, and as a Pilot/Seminar Speaker for the flying and maintenance of Powered Parachute wings. Tim has over 2,300 parachute jumps and held a Tandem Master Certification along with several USPA certifications.
Butler Parachute Systems has the capability to test parachutes and recovery systems from sub-munitions size up to approximately 4,000 lb. at speeds up to 850 knots. In 2013, we built a 30’ drop test tower at our plant. Additionally, we have established working relationships with several companies that provide aircraft support for various test program requirements. Available aircraft include a Cessna 182, CASA-212-200, DeHavilland DHC-6-200 Twin Otter; Beech King Air A90, SAAB Draken, Aermacchi 326, and others. We normally use the drop zone facilities of various existing parachute centers, but on occasion make arrangements for other areas.
We maintain an inventory of drop test devices such as bomb casings, cylindrical test vehicles, drop test dummies and various other test vehicles. We can also manufacture test vehicles as required for a particular test program. We have substantial in-house metal working capabilities for manufacturing and setting up of drop test vehicles. In addition, we have established close working relationships with several very good machine shops and various other metal and composite shops that we can call on if needed.
Still and video coverage is available from the ground, chase aircraft (if required) and in many cases, onboard the test vehicle. We have designed and built (in-house) a small, rugged computer data collection system with the capability of collecting up to 11 channels of data for riser loads, accelerations, static and dynamic pressure, etc. Please ask for our separate information sheet on our variations of the PDAS.
We occasionally drop test items from above 25,000’ and allow them to freefall before beginning the recovery process using timers or altitude sensors. In order to do this from un-pressurized aircraft, we maintain oxygen equipment for aircrew and jumpmaster use for high-altitude drops (above 15,000’ MSL). We also have qualified personnel on a contract basis available for flight crew, jumpmasters and test jumpers from these as well as lower altitudes. We are continually adding to our test capability for our own use and that of our customers.
(non-sensitive projects only)
Recovery System for the Shadow 200 TUAV: BPS designed and built a recovery system for the Shadow 200 TUAV widely used by the US Army. The main canopy (HX-400 – 22’ Do) is housed in a BPS designed/manufactured container with a vacuum formed shell, stainless steel stiffener and nylon flaps. The recovery system can be installed/removed in 20 minutes and the entire system weighs less than 7 lb. As of 2010, we have delivered over 1800 recovery systems to the customer.
Recovery System for the Theseus UAV: BPS designed, built, and delivered a complete recovery system in 67 days. A rocket deployed 47’ ringslot drogue canopy is used to stabilize the vehicle for descent and to deploy the 130’ main canopy.
Parachute Systems for Scientific Payloads: BPS has built (to print) two each 120 ft. diameter, two each 130 ft. diameter and two each 154 ft. diameter canopies for use on high altitude research flights with gas balloon systems.
Recovery System for a 17% F/A-18E/F RPV: BPS designed and developed a very low-cost, lightweight rocket deployed parachute system as an emergency backup for a powered model of the F/A-18E/F. The total system weight is about 7 lb. including the rocket. The rate of descent is approximately
17 f/s at 125 lb. gross weight.
Aircrew Parachutes for the Premier Flight Test Program: BPS designed and built emergency back type parachutes with HX-500/24 canopies, automatic ripcord releases, bailout oxygen and Capewell riser releases.
Butler and Scaled Composites have had a close relationship for many years (dating to the Voyager World Flight). In 2004 SpaceShip One went into space with the crewmembers wearing parachutes manufactured by Butler. Interestingly, the parachutes chosen were the same that Scaled had been using for a number of years for their ordinary flight test duties.
Recovery System for the Mirach 100/5 Target Drone: BPS was awarded a substantial contract to design, develop and test a complete recovery system for the Mirach 100/5 target drone. This is a two stage system with a 8’ Do reefed drogue parachute and a 37’ Do main parachute canopy and can recover up to 660 lb. at Mach .9 at up to 15,000’ MSL. The system has been tested and qualified at up to 468 KEAS at 695 lb.
Aircrew Parachutes: BPS responded to an RFI/RFQ for a parachute system for use in the T-3A Firefly aircraft which was used in the USAF Enhanced Flight Screening Program. The requirements included the ability to fit 5% female to 90% male pilot candidates. Out of four sample parachutes submitted by bidders, BPS had the only acceptable form, fit and function. A contract to produce 300 parachutes was awarded in February 1996 and completed by the end of July.
Aircrew Parachutes: BPS funded design, development and testing of a special back parachute with integrated flotation and survival equipment for the RG-8A aircraft and a special QAC chest parachute with integrated flotation and survival equipment for the E-2C aircraft BPS has also provided the same parachute system to other operators of the RG-8A aircraft. USCG also has designated several BPS proprietary products for use in their aerial re-supply and rescue missions.
Aircrew Parachutes: The smoke jumpers have purchased several different personnel parachutes for their aircrew and loadmasters, as well as SMARTChute systems and components. Furthermore, in FY 2001-2002, the FS purchased over 700 chest reserve parachutes using the BPS LoPo 550 canopy.
Aircrew Gliding Escape System (AGES): Manley Butler was the project engineer, designer and parachute rigger for the first-ever in-flight ejection seat test utilizing a ram-air inflated, gliding parachute wing for the main recovery chute (with an anthropomorphic dummy in the seat). This was the culmination of the AGES Program and conclusively proved that the use of high-performance parachutes in ejection seats is feasible.
Air Equipment Bag: BPS responded to a CBD announcement, then redesigned their concept and submitted samples, which were enthusiastically approved. BPS built 200 bags for the DevGrp and Seal Teams on the east coast.
Tethered Bundle Parachute Canopy: After numerous failures on the original equipment canopy for this application, the DevGrp tried the HX-500/600 canopies with 100% success rate. The TT-600 is now standard equipment.
Aircrew Parachutes and Survival Equipment: During 1985-86 Manley Butler worked extensively with Dick Rutan and Jeanna Yeager on the design of the emergency parachute systems and related survival equipment for the Voyager World Flight. He personally manufactured the parachute components.
Special Operations Forces: Butler Parachutes Tethered Tandem Bundle System, the TT-600, has been adopted by the USAF, USN, Sweden, Norway and others. The SMARTChute system and it’s components are also widely used.
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