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Reserve Parachutes Lifespan

Here is what Bertrand Maddalena has to say about it:


      Bertrand Maddalena

In Germany, the reserves lifespan limit is 10 years.   But in France, there is no rules for reserve parachutes. 

The
rigger is the only one who can certifies a reserve.  To do so, he must check the seams and see if the line tabs are intact.  The seams should not start to stretch the fabric.  He also has to look at the lines, which must be elastic and not hard or stiff, because their flexibility is what prevents them to break during the opening shock.

Anyway,
I recommend to replace a reserve that is  imore than 10 years old.  It is more reasonable and certifications have changed during the last years.

Also,the new generations of reserves are more stable and their sink rate is better. "
  

The aging factor for a reserve parachute is mainly moisture.  Although it is properly stored, the materials used for its manufacturing are very sensitive to moisture.  That is why it is necessary to regularly dry and airy reserves.

Differences in temperature and humidity degrade the materials.  Elasticity losses on the lines and fabric; So loss of strength.



With the old designs, the lines and the Apex, "move" a lot, but not evenly.  There is often much greater strictures on Apex, in proportion to the lines.  Therefore, the parachute loses the stability he had at the beginning.

During the descent with a reserve, if the descent is vertical, the contact to the ground is much less violent than if we add a balance of movement (horizontal).
 It is therefore very important to keep a very good verticality.  This is one of the first events that appears on aging parachutes.

The 10 years limit was defined as a result of inspections and it is an average.  It is obvious that some parachutes are still in good condition after 10 years, but others are not airworthy anymore before that date.  The role of the folder is very important and he has the right -and even the duty- to reform a reserve before 10 years if the pilot's safety is at risk.

____________________________________

Glimpse of
some of Bertrand Maddalena's accomplisments:

-
He
did​​ his 1st paragliding flight in 1988;
-He has built his 1st paragider in 1991;
-From 1991 to 1993, he
has been in charge of the implementation of the Sup'air workshop in Poland;
-In December 1993, he created the repair and inspection of paragliders workshop Rip'air, in France, which became the largest one worldwide.
-He was -and still is- involved in the development of lightweight products with different paraglider manufacturers, such as Dudek, Gin Gliders, Flying Planet ...
-He has set up workshops for repair and inspection of gliders in countries such as Chile, Brazil, Mauritius, Macedonia ...
-He is an expert witness;
-He is a paraglider instructor at the FFVL and SNMP (National Union monitors Paragliding - France);
-He has been hired by paragliders manufacturers to improve the working tools of their inspection workshop.