The factory-new Cirrus SR22 was en route to Hawaii from the San Francisco area when it “ran out of fuel”, the Coast Guard said in a press release.
Video from a C-130 Hercules rescue plane showed the stricken aircraft deploy its airframe parachute – standard equipment on the five-seat aircraft – several hundred feet above the sea.
Seconds after the Cirrus hit the water with a splash, the unidentified pilot is seen climbing into a small life raft to await a passing cruise ship to pick him up, about 400 kilometres off the Hawaiian island of Maui, a half-hour later.
“The pilot was reported to be in good condition. The plane was last observed partially submerged,” the Coast Guard said.
Flight tracking website FlightAware.com indicated the US-registered aircraft was flying a 3,894-kilometre route from Tracy airport outside San Francisco to Kahului on Maui.
A Cirrus SR22 can typically fly for 1,500 kilometres, but for transoceanic journeys it is fitted with extra fuel tanks in the cabin.
Minnesota-based Cirrus said timely deployment of its Cirrus Airframe Parachute System had saved 104 lives worldwide since the debut of the original SR20 model in the 1990s.
Similar parachutes were available for a small handful of other single-engine aircraft, either as optional extras or for after-market installation.
Cirrus spokesman Ben Kowalski told Flying magazine that the manufacturer – in whose name the SR22 was registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – was in “detail-gathering mode” and assisting authorities in their investigation.
“First and foremost, we’re remarkably thankful and happy that everyone is OK and for the work of the Coast Guard in the rescue,” Mr Kowalski was quoted as saying.
Source:Radio Australia (ABC)