Packing is the mainstay of the parachute rigger, but an
equally important part is the repair and maintenance of
the parachute and its related systems. When the parachute
is new, it is expected to function as designed. As it is used
and ages, however, it begins to wear and its condition
changes, which, over time, could result in a malfunction
of the system. It is the rigger’s responsibility to identify
any condition that might result in the parachute being
non-airworthy and therefore dangerous. In the course of
training, the rigger candidate will learn to identify those
conditions that may be unsafe. The trainee will also learn
how to undertake the necessary repairs to return the parachute
to its original, airworthy configuration.
As stated in Chapter 1—Regulations and Human Factors,
it is imperative that riggers be able to distinguish between
minor and major repairs. This ensures that riggers do not
exceed the limitations of their certificate or endanger the
parachute user. The basic rule for repairs is to return the
damaged parachute or component to its original airworthy
configuration. However, in many instances, the
remanufacture of the parachute may not be practical or
cost effective. In these cases, there are approved repair
techniques riggers can use to return the parachute to
service. These techniques form an important part of the
rigger’s store of knowledge.
The following procedures use a format that provides the
rigger with all of the necessary information to complete
the repair properly. It has been used by at least one manufacturer
to provide the necessary documentation to
riggers in the field to perform major repairs or alterations
on that manufacturer’s equipment. The procedures provide
the following information to the rigger:
1. Applicable products—Those parts of the parachute
that the procedure addresses.
2. Description—Brief explanation of the repair or
3. Materials—Those items needed to perform the procedure.
4. Machines—Those machines required to do the procedure.
In addition to the machines, there may be
special attachments required to do the work properly.
5. Equipment—Additional tools needed (in addition to
the sewing machines).
6. Procedure—The step by step guide through the
repair. This may include a disassembly and reassembly
procedure. Disassembly may be straightforward,
but the reassembly instructions may provide special
tips or procedures to accomplish the task.
7. Inspection—The final inspection of the finished
repair. This is a very critical part. In many cases, the
rigger is doing the work alone. Within the manufacturing
environment, the persons doing the work
generally do not inspect their own work. This is
given over to dedicated inspection personnel. For
the private rigger, there may be no one around to
inspect the work. In the case of simple repairs, it is
easy for the rigger to inspect the finished job. For
more extensive repairs, such as a harness main lift
web replacement, there can be several areas that
need to be addressed such as dimensions, stitching,
and hardware orientation. By having an inspection
checklist, the rigger can be assured of not missing
any critical area.
Each of the seven sections in this chapter has a list that
describes common repair procedures today’s rigger might
use. While not necessarily encompassing everything, the
techniques used in these repairs can be expanded upon to
address almost any other scenario that might be encountered.
If the rigger encounters a repair that he or she is not
familiar with, then the rigger should contact the manufacturer
for further direction and guidance. The rigger should
also remember that each procedure is just one method of
accomplishing a given repair. There might be more than
one or an individual might develop a different technique
to achieve the same results.
No matter what techniques or procedures that are followed,
remember that there are three basic requirements
to follow for any proper repair procedure.
1. The first is the knowledge to do the job. This includes
the required certification and authorization.
2. The second is the proper equipment, such as sewing
machines or hand tools.
3. Third is the availability of the proper materials.
The individual may be a master rigger with a complete
parachute loft at his/her disposal, but without the materials
as used in the original manufacture, the correct repair
cannot be made. By following these simple guidelines,
riggers are always able to determine whether or not they
can do the job properly.
Most of today’s manufacturers provide guidance for the
repair and maintenance of their products. These instructions
are the official guidelines that the rigger must follow.
The four primary areas of parachute repair and maintenance
are: canopy and lines; container; harness and risers;
and accessory components. These areas are
summarized within the seven sections of this chapter as