It is important for the aspiring rigger to understand basic design parameters and construction techniques of modern parachute systems. The master rigger must have a thorough 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. Any proposed alteration may degrade the function and/or structural integrity of the assembly or component, thereby causing it to fail.

The design parameters for certificated parachutes are set forth in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) documents, specifically within the Technical Standard Order (TSO) system. 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 manufactured and certified under a military drawing system; however, some manufacturers have certified them under the TSO system as well.


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 parachute assembly, excluding the harness, is used in conjunction with a reserve parachute assembly as the primary parachute assembly for a premeditated jump. 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 2-1.


The reserve parachute is worn in conjunction with a main parachute used for premeditated jumps. 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, suspension lines, and any type of deployment device that is sewn to the canopy or lines.


The emergency parachute, excluding the harness, is worn for emergency, unpremeditated use only. The canopy may be identical to the reserve parachute.

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