In the “old days” when military surplus equipment was common, there were a number of alterations available to make the surplus equipment suitable for sport use. Since then, however, the sport has progressed and purpose-built sport equipment is now the rule, so most equipment does not need any specialized alterations for use. Most alterations now deal primarily with harness size adjustments for individuals, or they are designed to enhance the performance of the parachute.

In the past, alterations were often done by well-intentioned individuals who knew how to do them but in most cases did not have the authority to perform them. The common attitude was, “I’m a master rigger; I can do anything.” As long as the work was done reasonably well and no one got hurt, this was an accepted practice. While there may be a few individuals who still adhere to that philosophy, as a whole, the rigging profession is much more aware of limitations in regard to alterations. Under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR), subsection 65.129(d), “No certificated parachute rigger may – (d) Alter a parachute in a manner that is not specifically authorized by the Administrator or the manufacturer.” In today’s world, manufacturers are much more concerned with the alterations being performed on their products. With the advent of the Internet and other means of highspeed communications, riggers have much more access to the manufacturer and are more likely to communicate with them as to what can be done. Also, due to liability issues, many riggers are reluctant to undertake alterations without the manufacturer’s approval.

What constitutes the manufacturer’s approval for an alteration? To be safe, the rigger should always have something in writing that specifically addresses the alteration the rigger wishes to perform. There should be a two way line of communication for this. One, the rigger should specifically request from the manufacturer the authority to perform the alteration. This should include serial number, make, and model of the product involved, and a description of the alteration. Two, in return, the rigger should receive, in writing, authorization to perform the alteration. The manufacturer specifies the form of this authorization, but it should have the date, the rigger’s name and certificate number, and a reference to the rigger’s original request. This fulfills the requirements of the regulations and protects both parties involved.

In certain cases, a rigger might want to perform an alteration on a product for which the manufacturer is no longer in business. This is commonly known as an orphaned product. If this occurs, the rigger should obtain approval from the Administrator. Refer to Advisory Circular (AC) 105-2—Sport Parachute Jumping. Alterations to approved parachutes must be performed only by a certificated and appropriately rated master parachute rigger, a parachute manufacturer, or any other manufacturer that the Administrator considers competent. To receive approval from the Administrator, a person qualified to alter a parachute would first contact the FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) to discuss the proposed alteration with an FAA inspector. The inspector requires a description of the proposed alteration along with a sample, technical data, and proposed test data to ensure that the altered parachute meets all applicable requirements. After discussing the proposed alteration, the two parties agree on a suitable plan of action. The individual then drafts an application, in letter form, addressed to the local FSDO. Along with the letter, the following information needs to be attached:

1. A clear description of the alteration.

2. Technical information that includes drawings and photographs, materials used, stitch patterns, and location of altered components.

3. A means of identifying the altered parachute such as model and serial number and identification of the person having performed the alteration.

After the inspector reviews the application, if he/she is satisfied, he/she indicates approval by date stamping, signing, and placing the FSDO identification stamp on the letter of application. Upon receiving this approval, the master rigger can then perform the alteration.

7.5 The following are alterations found in Section 5 of this chapter. (* Denotes approval needed by the Administrator or the Manufacturer)

7.5.1 * Articulated harness main lift web resizing

7.5.2 Leg pad resizing

7.5.3 * Automatic Activation Device (AAD) installation

 ©AvStop Online Magazine                                                                                                                                                       Contact Us              Return To Books

AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

↑ Grab this Headline Animator