Skydivers, parachutists, and pilots who wear parachutes soon will be allowed to go longer between mandated parachute inspection and repacking.
The FAA has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to change the regulations and allow reserve parachutes and emergency parachutes to go 180 days between required repacks by FAA-certificated parachute riggers. The agency still must issue a final rule to make the changes.
FAA rules now require any reserve parachute (worn by jumpers as part of a two-parachute system) and any emergency parachute (typically worn by pilots who fly gliders, aerobatic aircraft and warbirds) to be inspected and repacked every 120 days by a parachute rigger.
The change reflects recognition that frequent handling of the materials used to make parachutes may adversely affect their flight characteristics and increase their rates of descent.
The FAA proposal is the result of years of joint action by the U.S. Parachute Association, which represents some 31,000 people who enjoy skydiving, and the Parachute Industry Association, which represents parachute riggers, skydiving businesses, and the manufacturers of parachutes and components. Beginning in 2000, both organizations began working to increase the repack cycle for the reserve parachute component of a sport parachute system. In 2005, the effort was expanded to include emergency parachutes and garnered the support of many organizations whose members use parachutes, including the Experimental Aircraft Association, International Aerobatic Club, Soaring Society of America, International Council of Airshows, U.S. Forestry Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
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