Facilities and Tools
Issuance of a parachute rigger certificate is just the first
step toward becoming a professional parachute rigger. As
the uncertificated person gains experience packing, he or
she should also begin to acquire an inventory of tools and
manuals necessary to exercise the privileges of a certificate.
In compliance with 14 CFR, section 65.127, there
are several items necessary before the parachute rigger
can exercise the privileges of his/her certificate. One of
these requirements is a smooth table top that is at least 3
feet wide by 40 feet long; however, this is necessary only
if the parachute rigger is going to pack round parachutes.
With square reserve parachutes gaining widespread use in
the skydiving community in recent years, some parachute
riggers are specializing in packing only square reserve
parachutes. A table can be used for packing this type of
parachute, but the manufacturer may specify any smooth,
clean surface with a size that accommodates the canopy.
In this case, a clean, carpeted floor will do the job and a
table may not be necessary. According to 14 CFR, subsection
65.127(b), the parachute rigger needs suitable
housing that is adequately heated, lighted, and ventilated
for drying and airing parachutes. This is subject to interpretation
by the parachute rigger and the Administrator
since the standards fluctuate based on location and time
A parachute rigger must have enough tools and equipment
to pack and maintain the types of parachutes for
which he/she is rated to service. This may include only
the basic tools of a packing fid, temporary pin, and pullup
cord if this is all that the manufacturer says is necessary
to pack its product. However, there is a broad
selection of tools necessary for a well-equipped parachute
rigger to possess. These are covered in detail in Chapter
6—Hand Tools, Sewing Machines, and the Parachute Loft.
A number of performance standards are defined in 14
CFR, section 65.129 to guide the parachute rigger’s performance
of the duties that fall under the certificate. The
parachute rigger may not:
• Pack, maintain, or alter any parachute unless he/she is
rated for that type.
• Pack a parachute that is not safe for emergency use.
• Pack a parachute that is not thoroughly dried and aired.
• Alter a parachute in a manner not specifically authorized
by the Administrator or the manufacturer of the parachute.
The last item in this list is one that has been abused by
many master parachute riggers over the years. The master
parachute rigger must have Administrator or manufacturer
approval, in writing, to be in compliance with this
Aside from the necessary tools, 14 CFR, subsection
65.129(f) states that parachute riggers may exercise the
privileges of the certificate only if they understand the
current manufacturer’s instructions for the operation
involved. This means that parachute riggers must possess
a copy of the instructions or have access to them during
the operation. If they do not have a copy, but the owner of
the parachute provides them, then the parachute rigger
may pack or maintain the parachute.
A variation on this theme is accessing the packing
instruction via the Internet. Many manufacturers provide
manuals via their Web sites. If the parachute riggers do
not download the actual instruction, they must show that
they had access during the packing of the parachute. For
example, a laptop computer may not have a printer
attached, but could still meet this requirement.
Parachute riggers are not necessarily required to download
the instructions to a hard drive or disk as long as they
are able to access the manual in real time. However, if a
problem is identified with the parachute rigger’s pack job
at a later date, the parachute rigger would need to prove
to the Administrator that he/she had access to the instructions.
Without a hardcopy or downloaded computer files,
it would appear that the parachute rigger had not met the
Once an individual obtains a parachute rigger certificate,
it is valid for life unless surrendered, suspended, or
revoked. If the individual intends to work as a parachute
rigger and not just have the certificate, it is necessary that
he/she maintains currency as a practicing parachute rigger.
These currency requirements include at least one of
• Performing parachute rigger duties for at least 90 days
within the preceding 12 months.
• Demonstrating to the Administrator the ability to perform
Maintaining proper records of parachute rigger activities
is an important responsibility. This is necessary for the
protection of the parachute rigger, the user of the parachute,
and the satisfaction of the Administrator. Under 14
CFR, section 65.131, certificated parachute riggers must
document the packing, maintenance, and alteration of
parachutes they have performed or supervised. These
records normally are documented in a parachute rigger’s
logbook. The following information must be documented:
• Parachute type and make.
• Serial number.
• Name and address of the owner.
• Kind and extent of work performed.
• Date and location of work performed.
• Results of any drop tests.
These records must be kept for a minimum of 2 years.
Figure 1-7 shows a sample of a logbook page. In addition,
each parachute rigger must note on the parachute
packing record or data card [Figure 1-8] the following
• Date and location of packing.
• A notation of any defects found on inspection.
• Parachute rigger certificate number.
• Parachute rigger name and signature.
While not required on the data card, it has become
commonplace for the parachute rigger to note the work
performed as well. This is usually noted as A & P for assemble and pack or I & R for inspect and repack.
Professional parachute riggers often use an ink stamp on
the data card that indicates name, certificate number, seal
symbol, and provides an area for signature. This allows
the customer or other parachute riggers to read the name
(some signatures are illegible) and to correlate the last
entry with the seal on the parachute.