Chapter 5


During the inspection process, the rigger may identify various discrepancies in the materials and/or the assemblies. While the following inspection processes call out what to look for, the specific descriptions and treatment of the damage are provided in Chapter 7—Repairs, Alterations, and Manufacture.


1. Check the spring shape and tension; it should not have an excessive bend to the length of the spring. There should be no kinks in the wire or sharp edges or burrs. The swages should be smooth and tight. Check the tension of the spring against the manufacturer’s specifications. Most current springs have between 20-30 pounds of tension, but some run as high as 40-45 pounds. Too strong a string is rarely an issue, but too weak often is a problem. Some manufacturers specify a testing method and frequency of testing.

2. Check the canopy cap for security to the canopy portion along the stitching and seams. If it has a grommet in the cap or an alignment strap, check the grommets for tightness and smooth edges on the inside. Sharp edges can cut the locking loop. Check the alignment strap for centering and tacking.

3. Check the canopy fabric for any holes, burns, stains, or other damage. Check the seams for loose stitching and look over the mesh portion, if used. Small holes may be allowed, but consult the manufacturer’s manual. Check the attachment loop at the base of the pilot chute for security. Check any hand tacking, if used, to secure the spring to the base of the pilot chute.

4. If the parachute uses a sewn-on bridle, check the stitching. If it is a tied-on model, check the knots and any hand tacking called out in the instructions. Be sure to check the length against the parts list. Make sure the canopy end of the bridle is looped around the apex lines and not around a tension loop. If a floating loop is called out, make sure the locator tacking is secure.


If available, use a canopy damage chart appropriate to the canopy for documenting your inspection for repair of any damage found. Figure 5-10 shows a typical chart for round canopies.

1. Check the apex lines for damage and continuity as well as the upper lateral band. If there is a tension loop, make sure it is secure. If there is a vent collar ring, check the elasticity of the material.

2. Inspect gores and panel fabrics by starting at the top center gore of the canopy, working your way up one gore while inspecting the fabric, seams, tapes, and lines. When you reach the apex, pull the next radial seam toward you, stretching out the fabric, and work your way down the gore to the lower lateral band. [Figure 5-11 on page 5-8] This method is the most efficient use of your time and physical efforts. Work your way around the canopy, inspecting each gore from top to bottom.

3. The manufacturer may call for the tensile testing of the fabric after inspection of the canopy for obvious visual damage. This is very important because there was a fabric deterioration problem with certain parachutes several years ago. An AD was issued, and while the exact cause was never determined, a side benefit was the development and adoption of a non-destructive fabric pull test method. This method was adopted by the Parachute Industry Association (PIA) as Technical Standard TS-108, Parachute Canopy Fabric Pull Test, Non-Destructive Method. This method of testing canopy fabric for strength has been adopted by several canopy manufacturers as suitable for testing their canopies. However, the rigger must be careful in using this test method. The proper equipment is essential for accurate testing and the type of material must be known in order to test to the correct strength. The testing equipment is shown in figure 5-12. The full standard can be found in Appendix I of this handbook.

4. Along with the pull test, the AD also requires testing the canopy mesh with a solution of Bromo Cresol Green indicator to determine the presence of an acid condition. The Bromo Cresol Green indicator is a dark blue liquid in its standard state. It turns yellow when it contacts acid—the stronger the acid, the brighter the yellow. If the test is positive, the canopy will need to be treated to neutralize the condition. The AD highlights the manufacturer’s service bulletin as to how to comply with this test and procedure.

5. If the canopy has a deployment device such as a diaper, check that it is securely attached, particularly after use. Check the grommets, line stow bands, elastics, or other line stow devices. Pay particular attention to where the stitching attaches to the canopy fabric. This area can be particularly prone to damage during opening.

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