Chapter 5


During the inspection process, the rigger must determine the condition of the canopy and system regarding dryness and moisture. In the “old days” it was necessary for the parachute to be aired and dried for 24 hours prior to packing it. According to 14 CFR, subsection 65.129(c), “No certificated parachute rigger may pack a parachute that has not been thoroughly dried and aired.” This determination is at the discretion of the rigger.


The following inspection procedures share much with the previous section on round canopies. The differences between ram-air reserves and sport piggyback systems are identified in the following section. Inspect as follows:


1. The rigger should inspect the pilot chute in the same manner as in the section on round canopies.

2. The free bag should be checked to include all grommets, especially those bags that have a through loop configuration. Any sharpness in this area can result in a damaged closing loop. For those free bags that utilize a Safety-Stow ® locking system, make sure the elastic loop is of the correct size, the elastic is in good shape, and the zigzag stitching is secure. Many riggers fabricate these loops in the field, which, in most cases, is an unauthorized procedure. The Safety-Stow® loop is an integral part of the approved reserve deployment system and is manufactured under an approved quality control system from approved materials. The rigger should use only OEM approved parts for this.

3. Check the bridle for any damage or wear. For those bridles that have assistor pockets, make sure the stitching is secure and the pockets are not damaged. Check the Velcro® on the line stow pocket for wear and security. If the Velcro® does not hold securely, the parachute can experience “line dump” during deployment, possibly causing a malfunction or out of sequence deployment. Some deployment bags use rubber bands to stow the lines. If this is the case, check their condition and replace them if necessary.

4. There are still older ram-air canopies in the field that did not use a free bag but a diaper deployment system. If this is the case, the diaper should be inspected the same as that on a round canopy. Be sure to use the correct type and length of bridle, since it is generally not the same as a round bridle.


Figure 5-19 shows a typical ram-air reserve and harness and container system layout. The terminology used in describing the parts of the ram-air canopy is called out in PIA Technical Standard TS-100, Standardized Nomenclature for Ram-air Inflated Gliding Parachutes, which can be found in the Appendix I of this handbook.

1. When inspecting and assembling ram-air canopies, begin with the upper surface of the canopy. [Figure 5-20 on page 5-12] Work your way up and down the top panel of the cells looking for any damage or contamination. Check the seams for loose stitching and packing tabs if used, for security.

2. Check the trailing edge seam for secure stitching, paying particular attention to the line attachment tapes and their associated bar tacks. Next, look at the interior of the cells, carefully checking the crossports for damage or fraying of the edges of the fabric.

3. Now proceed to the lower surface of the canopy. Carefully check all the seams and the line attachment tapes and bar tacks.

4. Some manufacturers require the use of PIA Technical Standard TS-108, Canopy Fabric Pull Test at certain intervals. In addition, the manufacturer’s warning/TSO label may require that the rigger mark the label to signify each time it is repacked and after each use. [Figure 5-21] This label will be found on the upper surface, trailing edge of the canopy. It is important to comply with this requirement, not only because the manufacturer requires it, but also it establishes the trail of use for the canopy, which allows future riggers (and the manufacturer) to track its use and condition over time. Some riggers feel that they are doing their customers a favor by not marking the boxes in order to show it has little use when it comes to selling it. Since most individuals have a specific rigger pack their parachute on a regular basis, it does not take a lot of detective work to inspect the rigger’s logbook to see how many times they have packed any particular parachute.

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