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If the rigger does not pack the parachute, the pilot may take it down the road to another parachute rigger for a second opinion who may not have the same standards. An added factor is liability exposure. If the parachute rigger signs off on a questionable para- chute and an accident occurs later, the rigger may be exposed to disciplinary action from the Administrator in addition to civil action in the courts. There are no hard and fast rules in these situations, but instead, the parachute rig- ger must exercise the best judgment the rigger can summon based on experience and the information at hand.

Most professional parachute riggers would refuse to pack the parachute described in the scenario above, due to a combination of age, the size of the individual, and the potential use parameters. The master rigger must have a thor- ough understanding of these areas to perform any desired or necessary alterations. An understanding of how the systems or components were originally designed, and why they were constructed as they were, is essential.

Parachute certification standards fall within the TSO C23 series. Currently, there are three TSO documents under which parachutes are manufactured. They are C23b, C23c, and C23d. Appendix I explains these standards in detail. Military parachutes are manu- factured and certified under a military drawing system; however, some manufacturers have certified them under the TSO system as well. Component parts Parachute assemblies and component parts are identified in the following discussion.

The appropriate nomenclature, as well as the commonly accepted names, are defined below. The main canopy consists of everything from the main riser connector links to the bridle attachment point excluding the steering toggles. The major parts are the suspension lines and the canopy, as shown in figure The reserve parachute consists of everything from the reserve riser connector links to the bridle attachment point excluding the steering toggles.

The major parts are the canopy, sus- pension lines, and any type of deployment device that is sewn to the canopy or lines. Component parts of a main parachute assembly. The canopy may be identical to the reserve parachute. Most sport parachute assemblies have the har- ness and containers integrated into one assembly, but many military assemblies may be disassembled into sepa- rate harness and container subassemblies.

The following Upper main lift web Figure As such, it maintains tension on the canopy and lines during the deployment process. Pilot chutes are either spring- loaded or manually thrown into the airstream as a "hand deployed" pilot chute. Some military or emergency pilot chutes are ballistically deployed.

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A bridle is a piece of line or webbing that connects the canopy or deployment device to the pilot chute. It usually consists of a handle, a flexible cable, one or more pins, and a device for securing the cable to the handle. Some modern ripcords use a stiffened cable instead of a pin. Typical devices include bags, sleeves, pockets, straps, and sliders. One part is attached to the harness and the other to the risers.

These types may utilize a separate release handle. In addition, the reserve may employ a static line to activate it. Generally made of webbing, emergency parachutes usually have the ris- ers integral to the harness. Risers used on sport or mili- tary systems used for intentional jumping have release mechanisms installed. Steering toggles are usually design specific to the riser for the type of canopy installed. Closing loops used with automatic activa- tion devices AADs on reserve or emergency parachutes are usually design specific to ensure proper operation of the system.

The specifications were revised in to C23c and again in to C23d. The TSO is a simple two-page document that specifies the requirements for certification. This document also references a perform- ance standard that the parachute must meet. Figure is a table showing the pertinent points of each of the TSO certifications. For a more thor- ough study of the documents, refer to Appendix I. The TSO system consists of two parts. The first is the per- formance standards listed above.

This ensures that the parachute will perform as specified. The second is the production approval, which ensures that the manufacturer is able to produce the parachute as designed and tested. Standard Category lb Category B Wt: A major change is any that will affect the fit, form, or function of the parachute. For the aspiring rigger, the primary purpose of knowing the TSO system is determining the compatibility of com- ponents when assembling the parachute system. This is necessary in order to ensure that, besides fitting together properly, the performance standards are compatible. Under Advisory Circular AC — Sport Parachute Jumping, "the assembly or mating of separately approved components may be made by a certificated and appropri- ately rated parachute rigger or parachute loft in accor- dance with the manufacturer's instructions and without further authorization by the manufacturer or the FAA.

One of them is to ensure that "the strength of the harness must always be equal to or greater than the maximum force generated by the canopy during the certi- fication tests. Canopy design Accomplished design skills are not necessary for the rig- ger to properly service parachutes. The skills involved to become a designer can take several years of training and practice. It is necessary, however, that the rigger under- stands some of the basic concepts to relate the perform- ance characteristics to the design theory of the components involved.

For the average rigger, these con- cepts are accepted as those proven and tested in the fin- ished product. The following are specific areas that the rigger should understand to determine the identity, func- tion, and assembly of parachute components and their interaction. This document is the official language and terminology used for ram-air parachutes. It specifies the parts of the parachute, the various construction methods, and the seam configura- tions used.

This is necessary for the rigger to understand the manuals and repair procedures provided by the manu- facturers for their products. Figure identifies the components of a typical round emergency parachute. The nomenclature of this design Figure While some riggers who sky dive think that the square parachute has replaced it, the round parachute still has many uses and in certain instances fulfills some mission requirements better than the square. Poynter's Parachute Manual, Volume 1, Chapter 8, provides an excellent discussion of the design parameters and charac- teristics of round parachutes for those needing more tech- nical background.

When learning the various construction methods, the beginning rigger can become confused as to how the seams are folded together. Seeing the schematic diagrams of the various configurations can help in the repair sequence. Round parachute construction is divided into two primary techniques: Bias construc- tion is most prevalent in the early parachutes and military designs. It is generally the stronger of the two techniques due to its ability to stretch more during opening. In bias construction, the fabric is cut and sewn so that the warp and filler threads are at 45 degrees to the centerline of the gore.

A typical example is the 28' C-9 canopy.

Block construction is where the warp threads of the panels are parallel to the hem of the canopy. Block construction gained in popularity in the lightweight sport reserves of the s and s. They were easier to build and packed smaller. Without this, the rigger may not be able to assemble the correct components so that they function as a complete assembly. While the manufacturer may spec- ify what components are to be used with their particular design, with the vast numbers of products on the market today, there are an infinite number of combinations being used by the skydiving community.

While seeming to be compatible with each other, many designs have subtle dif- ferences that affect their performance and operation. This has resulted in better performance and durability.

Rigger Packing T10

The use of incorrect materials can have a detrimental effect on the opening, flying, and landing characteristics of the parachute. The growth in popularity of the ram- air canopies in the s required new fabrics for the designs to function. Very low permeability fabric was necessary for the canopy to remain inflated and main- tain the aerodynamic airfoil shape.

To reduce the drag created by the suspension lines, newer lightweight, and high-strength materials were used. While reducing the line bulk and drag, these materials have introduced newer problems into the designs. The ultra-low permeability fabrics inflate faster, and have almost zero stretch. As a result, the opening forces increase considerably.

These effects have contributed to newer packing and deployment methods to reduce the loads on the parachutist and harness. These, in turn, affect the design of the container systems. Using this as an example, the rigger can see the chain of cause and effect in the design process. Complete coverage of materials is presented in chapter 3 of this handbook. DAMAGE Damage patterns identified during the inspection of canopies can highlight problems caused from packing or incorrect use. By being able to identify these patterns, the rigger can provide the user with correct technique and, thereby, prevent possible injury or death.

In addition, the rigger can provide valuable feedback to the manufacturer of potentially serious problems with new designs once they have been subjected to real world conditions. While manufacturers conduct extensive testing programs before Figure Containers The container component assembly of the parachute sys- tem is that part which encloses the canopy s and lines, the deployment device if used, and the pilot chute.

It is held closed by the use of cones or loops, which are secured by ripcord pins or locking pins such as are used on hand deploy systems. Containers may consist of single units as are used on pilot emergency systems, or multiple units such as are used on skydiving piggyback systems. The term "pack" is used interchangeably with container. The harness and container assembly may be called the pack and harness. The term "packtray" is used to refer to the bottom panel or section of the container where the lines may be stowed during packing.

Early containers were simply a bag-shaped unit that the canopy was stuffed into and then tied closed. The para- chute was static line deployed and the parachutist simply fell away from the balloon or aircraft allowing the canopy to deploy. With the advent of manually deployed free fall systems, the need for a more secure and tailored design became evident.

Originally, the parachute systems were identified by the position at which they were located in relation to the body Figure These were the back parachute, seat para- chute, chest parachute, and lap parachute. The con- tainers were usually rectangular in shape with four closing flaps. These configurations were primarily dic- tated by the need to fit the assembly into the cockpit of the aircraft.

With the growth of skydiving, the container configura- tions and the associated terminology changed. The origi- nal location of the main parachute on the back and the reserve on the chest became known as the "conventional" configuration. For the container to remain flat, it was necessary to tailor the fabric and then use frames or bow stiffeners to keep it flat and compress the pilot chute. Back designs utilized multiple cones and pins, usually three or four to maintain the length and width. Seat containers were usually more square and thicker since they were held in place by the seat pan.

Most use two cones and pins for closing. The same was used for chest and lap parachutes. Many military systems still utilize these basic configurations today. With the introduction of skydiving in the s, most equipment was of modified military designs, and the first generation of commercial products were simply colored versions of these designs. In the s, skydiving canopies had progressed to ram-air designs, which were smaller in volume and had different deployment require- ments.

Container designs evolved to meet these require- ments. The introduction of the hand deploy pilot chute was probably the most influential concept in the evolving container design. Cones were replaced by fabric closing loops, and main ripcords and pins were replaced by hand deploy bridles and locking pins. It was no longer neces- sary to compress the spring-loaded pilot chute inside the container. Thru closing loops were used to compress the pack and make it thinner to conform to the body shape.

The use of deployment bags and other devices helped provide shaping to the container. This was true for both square and round canopies. Today, most modern container designs have completely done away with frames and bow stiff eners. This has resulted in smaller, more flexible, more comfortable, and more efficient container designs.

Instead of metal stiff en- ers, nylon plastic is used to reinforce the container flaps for backing the grommets. The nylon is lighter, easier to work with, and cheaper.

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Many of the modern military Figure Figure shows the similarity to a sport pig- gyback system. Sport containers in particular need to be designed so that they contribute to the deployment needs of the specific parachute. Piggyback designs have separate requirements for the main and reserve containers. The reserve container is generally small, tight, and mostly wedge-shaped. Virtually all popular sport systems are designed around the use of a ram-air canopy.

The deployment method of choice is a Type 5 deployment bag. In the early days of the ram-air reserve, there were certain container design requirements specified by the manufacturer. A hesitator loop configuration secures the bridle and holds the bag in until the reserve pilot chute is deployed and under drag. Square reserve hesitator loop configuration. Nonrestrictive corners to allow the bag to be lifted off by the bridle in the event of a horseshoe-type malfunction.

Today, containers achieve the required holding and deployment needs through design tailoring. The bottom corners of the reserve container are designed so that the bag is held in place while the pilot chute and bridle deploy and then releases the bag to the airstream.

At the same time, the bag can still deploy quickly in the event of a horseshoe-type malfunction. The main container is less restrictive than the reserve in holding the main canopy in place during deployment. This is important so that there is no tendency for the bag to twist or be unstable on deployment. With many of the main canopies used today, if the bag is unstable, it results in the main canopy opening unevenly and causing spins and possible malfunctions.

Along with the main bag, the main risers must be able to deploy evenly for the same reasons. In the early days of skydiving, the primary body position was a stable, face-to-earth position. This resulted in the main container being behind the parachutist out of the air- flow. One of the primary problems faced during those days was the high incidence of pilot chute hesitations. This was the result of the container designs and the rela- tively poor performance of the available pilot chutes.

The advent of the hand deploy pilot chutes reduced the inci- dence of hesitations. In the face-to-earth position, the primary purpose of the container is to hold the canopy and pilot chute closed and then allow it to open during deployment. Today, body positions experienced during free fall range from head- down to feet-to-earth and everything in between.

Where speeds formerly experienced ranged from mph to maybe mph, today speeds in a head-down position can exceed mph. This has changed the container dynamics to ensure a more secure system and increased protection from the wind blast. These changes have resulted in more secure and streamlined configurations to accommodate these new requirements. Figure shows a modern container design shaped to meet the high-speed airflows of today.

An additional area that needs to be addressed when designing piggyback systems is the main riser covers. In the early days of sport piggyback designs, the main risers were held in position by webbing keepers. As the sport progressed, the use of fully enclosed main riser covers became the norm. In their attempt to protect the main ris- ers during high-speed free fall, some designs tend to restrict the deployment of the reserve container in the event of a "total" main pack malfunction. When this hap- pens and the main container remains closed, the main riser covers do not open.

Because of this, there is addi- tional restriction over the upper corners of the reserve container. This contributes to higher reserve bag release forces when deployed. In severe cases, this can result in a Figure 1. The balance between sufficient main riser pro- tection and the need for full reserve deployment freedom can be an important design feature.

It soon became apparent that if the openings were anywhere uneven, it could be very pre- carious for the parachutist. While the sling seat worked for the ride down, it was necessary to add additional straps to secure the parachutist. These straps included the leg, back, and chest straps. The standard harness configuration is equipped to secure a torso, head, arms and legs with straps. Others have been added over time Figure Figure shows a basic military style harness. This harness configuration has seven points of adjustment to allow fitting of most military personnel.

Most of the early parachute systems had the harness detachable from the containers. This allowed inter- changeability for various models. This was accomplished by sandwiching the harness between the container and backpad and sewing them together. Figure shows one of the earliest custom systems called the "Super Swooper.

As skydiving and the sport parachute industry has grown, most of the equipment is now custom-built for each indi- vidual. The standard piggyback harness configuration of today is a fixed main lift web with adjustments only at the chest and leg straps. Along with this has been an increase in comfort and flexibility. One of the most innovative designs adopted in recent years is the "articulated" harness. This design incorporates metal rings at the hip junction and the chest- strap attachment.

An added benefit is that this style of harness is stronger under high shock loads. This is due to the natural alignment of the webbing during the open- ing process. With a nonarticulated harness, the webbing junctions warp and load unevenly. In recent years and with the increasing popularity of ver- tical skydiving or "freeflying," greater speeds are experi- Figure Standard harness junction warping.

For many years, harnesses were overbuilt as they were basically copies of military designs. As the sport has pro- gressed, equipment has been made lighter and smaller. Bridles and deployment devices In the early days of parachutes, the lines and canopy were stowed in the container. During the deployment process, the canopy was extracted first, followed by the lines. This was known as a "canopy first" deployment. If the canopy inflated before tension was applied to the lines, a mal- function was highly likely.

Over the years, it was learned that the deployment process needed to be controlled to prevent malfunctions. At the start of the Second World War, with the advent of airborne paratroops, the main canopy was deployed from a direct bag static line system. In this system, the main canopy was packed in a bag, which was permanently attached to the static line. After deployment, the bag and static line remained with the aircraft.

This system is still used today with some modifications. For emergency para- chutes, the military adopted the "quarter bag" in the s for use with high-speed emergency systems. In the early s, the sleeve was developed and soon became popular for sport parachuting or skydiving. With the growth of skydiving and the increased use of the reserve parachute, it soon became obvious that the reserve parachute needed to be controlled more. In the mid s, the two-stow diaper was developed for use with emer- gency and reserve parachutes.

This design was soon fol- lowed by the three- stow diaper and the piglet- style diaper invented by Hank Ascuitto. During this time period, the deployment bag became the preferred method of deploy- ing the increasingly popular ram-air or square canopies. In , Para-Flite, Inc. This design continues to this day virtually unchanged as the preferred method of deploying square reserve canopies.

Reefing devices slow down and stage the opening sequences of canopies, resulting in lower opening forces. This is particularly critical at higher speeds where the excessive "G" forces experienced may injure or kill the user. The most common reefing device used today is the "slider. This restricts the inflation of the canopy and slows down the opening.

While other methods have been developed for military or aerospace applications, the slider is the preferred method of reefing ram-air canopies. Without this device, skydiving would not be as developed as it is today. Examples of this method are the T-7A chest pack or the B back parachute. Type 1 deployment -T-7A reserve.

Two stows from one line group lock the diaper, compensated by offsetting stows of the other line group in the container with the remainder of the lines stowed in the container. Type 2 deployment - Strong Enterprises, Inc. Type 3 deployment - Phantom canopy. It is locked with three stows and all lines are stowed on the diaper parallel to the radial seam. Type 4 deployment - Preserve diaper. They were originally used on the Safety Flyer reserve. This is the dominant and preferred method for virtually all modern square reserves.

Type 5 deployment - Free Bag. Lines are stowed on the sleeve. They were originally used on early sport canopies, particularly the Para-Commander.

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Type 6 deployment - PC sleeve. An additional deployment method is the "tail pocket. The early parachutes utilized hesitator loops to secure the lines. In modern designs that utilize types 1 through 4 and 6, the preferred method of locking the deployment device is rubber bands. The specification for standard rubber bands is MIL-R Many of the newer lightweight, round canopies use smaller diameter and fewer lines.

Consequently, the standard rubber bands do not work well. Some manufacturers supply smaller diameter rubber bands to be used with their canopies. It is extremely important to utilize the correct size rubber bands. With the introduction of the free bag system in , Para-Flite, Inc. They wanted the locking stows to release at a consistent force to prevent bag lock. The "O" rings provided this. A couple of years later, the "O" rings were upgraded to a thicker diameter model.

In , Figure This design is a con- siderable improvement over separate rubber bands or "O" rings and is used on most free bags today. Rubber bands are susceptible to heat degradation and dry out. If they break prematurely during use, the parachute may malfunction. Natural rubber bands also react to natural brass grommets and may become gummy and sticky, causing the lines to stick to the diaper or bag. Main and reserve bridles, while sharing the same function, operate differently. Early bridles were simply a length of suspension line tied off to the two components. It was soon learned that the length of the bridle affected the function of the pilot chute and the opening characteristics of the canopy.

If the bri- dle is too short, the pilot chute cannot launch properly. If too long, the snatch force is increased. On most round emergency and reserve parachute assemblies, the length and type of the bridle is fixed for optimum performance. The rigger cannot change the configuration of the bridle without approval of the manufacturer. There are two basic types of round canopy bridles. The first is a tubular nylon bridle that is tied on.

The second is a pre-sewn bridle with loops at each end. The loop of one end is passed thru the attach point on the pilot chute and then back thru itself forming a lark's head knot. The other loop of the bridle is then similarly attached to the canopy apex. Hand tack the loop to ensure this. Hand tack floating bridle loop. Square reserve bridles are generally built into the free bag.

The bridle material is usually 2" wide or more for high drag. The original concept of the free bag is to allow the square reserve to deploy if the reserve pilot chute is captured resulting in a horseshoe-type malfunction. The high-drag bridle would then pull the reserve bag off the parachutist's back and allow the canopy to deploy free from the bag. In the late s, assistor pockets were added to the bridles for additional drag as square reserves became bigger and heavier. Free Bag assistor pocket. Early main bridles were simply longer versions of the reserve bridles. This was necessary to compensate for the "burble" created in free fall by the parachutist.

In the mid s and with the advent of the hand deploy pilot chute, the length of the bridle was critical in order to allow proper extraction of the locking pin that secured the pack closed. In recent years and with the almost total use of ram-air parachutes, the need for collapsible main pilot chutes has become widespread.

As the main canopies have become smaller and faster, the drag of the inflated main pilot chute after opening can have an adverse effect on canopy performance. There are two primary designs used to accomplish this. The first is the "bungee" collapsible configuration. This consists of a length of elastic shock cord inside a tape sheath on the bridle near the pilot chute end. When the pilot chute is deployed into the airstream, the airflow inflates the pilot chute which Figure After opening, the elastic pulls the apex down again and collapses the pilot chute, reducing the drag.

While this system works, its main drawback is that certain airspeeds are needed to inflate the pilot chute. The second type is the "kill-line collapsible" configura- tion. This allows the pilot chute to inflate immediately. During the deployment sequence, as the canopy inflates, the lower end is stretched to length and the centerline pulls the apex of the pilot chute down and collapses it. This configuration has become almost universal in use for skydiving today.

The only drawback is if the user forgets to cock the bridle during packing. This will result in a collapsed pilot chute and a pilot chute in tow. In the early days of use of the kill-line bridle, this was a problem but has become less frequent today. A properly made bridle will have a col- ored "eye" at the locking pin location to show if it is cocked and the centerline is set correctly. The bridles are usually Figure Tandem main collapsible bridle.

After the canopy deploys, the bag slides up the bridle, inverts, and covers the pilot chute. This is commonly called the "poor man's collapsible pilot chute system. Pilot chutes A pilot chute is a small parachute, which is used to deploy the main or reserve parachute. In the earliest uses of parachutes, the parachute was static line deployed. With the advent of manually operated or "free fall" para- chutes, the need for a pilot chute was quickly recognized.

There are two basic types of pilot chutes. The first is the spring-loaded design. This uses a collapsible spring, which is compressed in the parachute container and held closed with the ripcord. When the ripcord is pulled, the pack opens and the pilot chute launches into the airstream. The pilot chute provides drag and pulls the canopy from the pack as the parachutist or load falls away.

During this process, the pilot chute also provides tension on the lines of the deploying canopy and helps the opening sequence. Spring-loaded pilot chutes are used primarily for emergency and reserve parachutes. In addi- tion, they are used in military free fall and training sys- tems for the main parachute. The second type of pilot chute is the "hand deploy" design. This type consists of the pilot chute canopy but does not have a spring to launch it.

Instead, the para- chutist extracts the folded pilot chute from a pouch or the container and launches it into the airstream. The pack is held closed by a locking pin attached to the bridle of the pilot chute. As the pilot chute inflates, it extracts the pin from the locking loop and pulls the parachute from the pack.

The rest of the opening process is similar to the spring-loaded pilot chute. This configuration came into popularity in the mid s and is now the primary method of deployment in skydiving. However, it wasn't until that the spiral vane pilot chute was invented. This design used a spiral spring that is easy to collapse and pack. The most common type of spiral vane pilot chute used today is the MA-1 model. In the early days of skydiving, military pilot chutes such as the MA-1 and others were popular.

Soon commercial designs were introduced that improved on the MA-1 with better launch and drag characteristics. Both of these were primarily for use with main parachutes. With the advent of the hand deploy pilot chute for the main, most of the improvement in spring-loaded pilot chute design has focused on its use in the reserve or emer- gency parachutes. This has paralleled the improvements Figure Both of these require better pilot chutes than in the past. Its design has been licensed by other manufacturers for use in their assemblies.

Additional designs include the Vector II reserve pilot chute and the Stealth pilot chute. The Vector II design is a "ballute" configuration that elimi- nates the use of mesh. In the event of an unstable launch on its side, the mass of fabric is sufficient to lift the pilot chute and deploy the parachute.

There are two types of hand deploy designs. One is the throw-out pilot chute TOP configuration. This is the type where the pilot chute pulls the locking pin located on the bridle. This design has the pilot chute packed in the con- tainer, which is locked with a straight locking pin attached to a short lanyard and handle. POP handle and lanyard.

The parachutist grasps the handle and pulls the locking pin from the locking loop and brings the pilot chute into the airstream.

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The handle is usually attached to the bottom of the pilot chute and as soon as the chute enters the airstream, the handle is pulled from the parachutist's hand. This makes for a positive deploy- ment. The main drawback to this system is losing the han- dle due to it being dislodged while moving around in the aircraft or in the air.

Automatic activation devices and reserve static lines Safety considerations have led to the development of automatic activation devices and reserve static line systems. These devices allow for automatic deployment of the main or reserve parachutes in the event of an emergency. Modern systems combine a barometric sensor with a rate of descent sensor so that the system is fully automatic once turned on and calibrated. The activation may be by either pulling the ripcord pin s or cutting the locking loop s , causing the pilot chute to release.

Most older models use a mechani- cal or pyrotechnic pin pulling technique.

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Newer models use a pyrotechnic loop cutting design. For many years, AADs were primarily used by the mili- tary and student parachutists. The designs were bulky, expensive, and, to a degree, inconsistent. The installations themselves were cumbersome and awkward. In the early s a new generation of AADs became available. It is small, reliable, computer based, and uses a pyrotechnic loop cutter. It has an auto-off feature that turns the unit off after 14 hours of operation to conserve power.

It also has the ability to cal- ibrate the unit for operation at altitudes other than the cal- ibrating ground level. Based on these concepts, other companies have developed similar systems and as a result, changed the approach to the design and use of AADs. Today, most sport parachutists use an A AD and some countries mandate their use by all parachutists.

When calibrated to ground level, the barometric sensor activates the unit fir- ing the cutter when the descending parachutist reaches an altitude of approximately feet AGL and exceeds a rate of descent of 1 15 feet per second. The cutter s may be located at the base of the pilot chute or on a flap over the pilot chute.

It usually consists of a line, webbing, or cable, which con- nects one or both main risers to the reserve handle, hous- ing, or cable. The most common design used today has a ring through which the reserve ripcord cable is routed.


The riser end attaches to a ring on the riser s with a snap shackle for quick release capability. When the risers are jettisoned, the lanyard pulls the cable, releasing the rip- cord pin s , and activates the reserve. This results in a minimum loss of altitude during the cutaway procedure. The use of an RSL has saved many lives over the years due to low cutaways. Though originally developed in , the RSL concept did not become popular until the advent of student piggy- back systems and ram- air canopies. Through the use of an RSL system, the student parachutist need only pull the canopy release handle in the event of a partial malfunc- tion, and the main canopy is cutaway and the reserve acti- vates.

Many did and this resulted in an increase of RSL use for several years. In recent years and with the widespread acceptance of newer types of AADs, many parachutists feel that they no longer need an RSL. In reality, both systems complement each other. The AAD functions if the individual does not activate the main parachute. However, it is altitude and rate of descent ROD dependent. Consequently, if a cutaway is performed below the activa- tion altitude, it may take some time for the descending parachutist to reach the ROD necessary to initiate activa- tion, thereby necessitating rapid manual activation of the reserve.

However, if an RSL is also installed, it would cause an immediate activation of the reserve as the main parachute disconnects and moves away from the para- chutist. In the last few years, as canopy design has resulted in smaller and more sensitive canopies, many parachutists have elected not to use an RSL. The rationale is that in a violently spinning malfunction, which some of these highly loaded canopies are prone to do, it is preferable to cutaway and regain stability prior to pulling the reserve.

This reduces the chance of an entanglement with the deploying reserve. While this scenario has happened, it is a rare occurrence. Statistics show that many lives have been saved by using an RSL. A single side RSL where the lanyard is attached to only one main riser, usually the left side. This is the most common design in use today due to its simplicity. Single side RSL configuration. A dual side RSL where both main risers are con- nected with a cross connector which is in turn connected to the RSL lanyard.

Dual side RSL configuration. The LOR system developed by the French. This incorporates two lanyards, one from each riser, that are attached to individual curved pins that secure the reserve container with a dual locking loop. This design utilizes a special lanyard which is attached to the bridle of the reserve free bag. Since the early s, most if not all manufacturers pro- vide an RSL installation on their equipment either as stan- dard or optional.

If the rigger has a system without an RSL and the owner wishes to have one installed, the rig- ger should check with the manufacturer as to the avail- ability of a retrofit kit or return it to the manufacturer for installation. Because the installation of an RSL is an alter- ation to the original design, the rigger needs approval either from the manufacturer or the FAA.

Because of the nature of the RSL system, it is imperative that the rigger thoroughly understands the individual con- cepts. The following describes the basic design and function of a single side RSL installation on a one-pin reserve container. In this example, a small ring is installed near the lower hardware end of the riser on the inboard side. This allows the riser end of the lanyard end to be as short as possible. If there is excess lanyard, it is difficult to stow and it is possible for the lan- yard to become snagged and unseated.

It is important that the correct risers with attachment ring be installed. While many risers have a ring installation, not all are installed at the correct location. Consequently, the lanyard length will not match the factory dimensions. This can result in premature reserve activation when the main is deployed. Main riser RSL ring attachment. Most RSL lanyard designs have a snap shackle or similar release device mounted at the riser end of the lanyard. The most common one involves landing in high winds where the parachutist may Figure Snap shackle on RSL lanyard. If the lanyard were not released, the reserve would be deployed as the main is cutaway.

Most RSL attachments connect with the ripcord cable either at the yoke area or just above the ripcord pin. Generally, there is a double ring installation where the cable end of the lanyard is located. Double ring container installation. That is, the design of the container directly affects the design of the lanyard.

Once the two above locations are determined, then the routing of the lanyard can be completed. It was originally thought that the lanyard should have a long length to allow acceleration during activation to pull the ripcord cable. This has not proven to be true and most manufac- turers keep their lanyards as short as possible to prevent snagging and easier stowing. This was either on the shoulder yoke or the reserve riser. The ripcord end of the lanyard is routed to the dual guide ring attachment location and the ripcord cable routed through the rings. Ripcord cable routing thru rings.

Figure shows the RSL lanyard and ripcord cable at the moment of riser extension and just as the cable is Figure A point that the rigger should be aware of is the "pigtail" configuration of the reserve ripcord that results from the use of the RSL. This is a clear indication that the RSL lanyard activated the reserve.

The rigger should carefully inspect the ripcord cable for any broken strands. If any are found, the ripcord should be replaced.

FAA Parachute Rigger Handbook (FAA-H)

If not, the cable can be straightened and returned to service. With the single side RSL, it is imperative that the main riser with the RSL attachment leave after the opposite riser. To ensure the correct staging Figure Cutaway cable length differential. A minimum of 1" is the standard differential. An example is the cross seam in a canopy gore where two panels of fabric are joined. The strength of the seam needs to be greater than the strength of the fabric.

To achieve this, there are several factors that need to be considered in the design. These include the fol- lowing: Generally, the lighter the fabric, the smaller the thread used. Accordingly, a smaller needle is used in order not to damage the weave of the fabric. For the French fell seam nor- mally used in joining the panels of a canopy, the straight stitch is used.

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There is a fine balance between the security of the seam and overstitching. Too many stitches per inch will dramatically affect the strength of the seam by perfo- rating the material. The number of rows of stitching also affects this. While more rows generally increase the strength of the seam, too many perforate the material as well.

However, their use may also reduce the elasticity of the seam at the same time. Some of the previous factors also can affect heavier mate- rials such as tapes and webbings. In working with web- bings in harness design, most construction methods have tended to overbuild the junctions. This has been done pri- marily because the materials have readily accepted heav- ier threads and stitch patterns.

An area that needs to be addressed is that of restitching webbing. Until recently, there was not much study done to determine how much strength is lost in this process. Dunker, a parachute engineer, conducted a study that evaluated the variables introduced when restitching webbing junctions. Some of these variables included the following: Condition R webbing has a resin treatment to make it stiffer as opposed to condition U or untreated webbing. Larger needles make larger holes.

A blunt needle or one whose point is damaged will do more damage to the webbing and weaken it. A W-W pattern is stronger than a box X pattern. All of these affect the ultimate strength of the webbing junction or stitch pattern. Taking into consideration the above variables, tests were conducted in measuring the strength of a simple lap junction.

The results showed that there was little difference between the un-sewn sample and the first re- sewn test. The greatest difference was between the first and second re-sewn sample, with approximately an eight percent decrease in the strength of the junction. There was minimal drop in strength in suc- ceeding tests. Initial conclusions were that if the disas- sembly process was done carefully with little damage done to the webbing, the re-sewing process had minimal effect on the ultimate strength of the re- sewn junction.

Just as important as acquiring knowledge of tools and machines, the language of materi- als is a necessary part of a rigger's job comprehension. In doing repairs or alterations, the rigger must be able to identify the types of materials used in order to duplicate the original manufacture or ensure the correct level of safety necessary. Some materials may look similar, but there can be subtle differences between them that make a major difference in their strength or durability.

It is not the intent of this chapter to present information on every type of material or hardware ever used in para- chutes. For those materials used in obsolete or military surplus parachutes, there are reference sources, such as The Parachute Manual by Poynter, for the rigger to use to identify older materials. The intent of this chapter is to present as much information as possible on the modern materials used in today's parachute systems. Most riggers operate quite successfully at a basic level of material knowledge.

There are certain materials that are in common use on most parachute systems, and in deal- ing with these on a regular basis, the rigger becomes very familiar with their use and characteristics. It is necessary that the rigger know their correct type, nomenclature, strength, and common use. In dealing with other riggers, manufacturers, and suppliers, the rigger is then able to identify the referenced material in order to obtain the appropriate repair part or describe the use of the material to others.

All of this is part of the parachute "language" required for the rigger to operate under. Specifications All certificated parachute systems built under Government approval programs require most, if not all, materials used in their construction to have some form of specification approval.

In addition, there are other Government specifications, such as Federal Standards, and commercial specifications in use. Any specification may be used, providing the manufacturer can prove compliance with this specifica- tion, and that the specification is acceptable to the FAA for use in the parachute system.

In , the Parachute Industry Association PI A adopted approximately parachute related specifications, drawings, standards, and test methods. The PI A takes responsibility for the continued maintenance and revision of these specifications. As the specifications are revised, they keep their original identification number, but the PIA prefix precedes them.

Through the involvement of the PIA Specifications Committee, the revised specifica- tions, including new digital drawings, are made available to the industry. In addition, there may be a revision letter such as A, B, C, D, etc. The materials and hardware listed herein are only a small part of those available but the most commonly used in the majority of today's rigging profession.

By learning the specifications and uses of these materials, the rigger establishes a sound basis for the repair and maintenance of modern parachutes. To promote the latest specifications, the PIA nomenclature is called out unless otherwise noted. In the past, the com- mon method to denote the various types of webbings, cords, etc. For this book, the standard is the Arabic numeral i. Many of the figures in this chapter use a neutral back- ground with an XY grid for reference.

The numbers are one-inch increments for a proportional reference. Fabrics Fabrics for use in the manufacturing of parachutes are predominately nylon. The major differences include the weave, weight, and finish. The various types of materials include canopy fabric, pack cloths, mesh, elastic fabrics, stiff ener materials, and foams. Ripstop weave is a plain weave with heavier threads woven into the material resulting in a boxlike pattern.

The heavier thread inhibits the tearing process and results in stronger fabrics. Cloth, parachute, nylon, Ty Cloth, parachute, nylon, Ty-1, Lo-Po,. Ripstop nylon Common use: Ram- air canopies and some round reserves Comment: Cloth, parachute, nylon, Ty-3, cfm. Lopo reserve canopies Comment: Cloth, parachute, nylon, Ty-1, zero porosity. Sport main canopies and some reserves Comment: Cloth, netting, nylon marquisette. Military pilot chutes Ph: Most sport containers also utilize a thin foam lining on the inside of the flaps to smooth out the fabric and absorb wear and tear.

Cloth, duck, nylon para-pak. PIA-C class 3, 7. Cloth, mesh, large hole, nylon. Sport pilot chutes, some round reserves Comment: MIL-C, class 3 Strength: Sport and military container systems Comment: Has a urethane coating on the inside. Sport container systems Comment: Main pilot chute pockets Comment: Cloth, duck, nylon, ballistic. PIA-C, class 2 Strength: Stiffening material for containers Comment: Uses a melamine resin for stiffness.

Pressure sensitive adhesive tape — ripstop tape. Ripstop weave fabric with adhesive backing, various colors Common use: Field canopy repair Comment: May degrade canopy fabric over time. Oxford cloth, denier. Lining of container systems Comment: Bonded to various fabrics such as Oxford cloth.

Webbing and tapes While many webbing and tapes have the same specifica- tions, they still have different designations. The differ- ence is a common rule of thumb where anything 1 " or wider and over lb strength is webbing. Anything less is a tape. There are, however, some examples that fall outside of this criterion. Be the first to review this product. More Reviews Show Last. The advertised price above is higher than the actual price for this item. Add this item to your cart to see your price. Contact us if you have any further questions on this item.

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