General issues


AustrialAlpin Cobra harness buckle

Skywings E-news Update
AustrialAlpin buckle warning
A safety warning has been released regarding the AustrialAlpin Cobra harness buckle that is widely used on hang glider, paraglider and paramotor harness types from many different manufacturers.

Some buckles have been identified in which the the rivets have not been closed; the release clips may detach with potentially very serious consequences. All pilots should examine the buckles on their harnesses at the first opportunity.

If these are of the of the AustrialAlpin Cobra type please download the safety notice issued by AustriAlpin for further information.

Paraglider Reserve parachute deployment information

This is a really good article (in my opinion), and will highlight things each pilot needs to consider when buying, installing and using a reserve parachute:

BHPA advice and news on Glider certification

EN paraglider classes and pilot skills

The BHPA table relating EN/LTF glider certification classes to the appropriate pilot skill levels required to fly them safely is now available for ready access on this website.

The table builds on the EN certification scheme‘s own description of the sort of pilot level required for each certification class, and adds a rough guide to the level of experience and currency levels that are appropriate. The table was produced to draw pilots‘ attention to the degree of flying experience, and the amount of regular flying, required to be able to fly any paraglider safely within their limitations.

This is of particular use to those pilots who may be tempted to trade up to a higher level of certification for their next glider. It might surprise some to realise that the appropriate skill/experience set for an EN C wing, for example, includes being very current, being familiar with active flying and SIV techniques, and understanding the consequences of flying a glider with limited passive safety.

Pilots should note however that certification classes are becoming increasingly wide, and also that the new breed of EN D gliders have almost nothing in common with earlier EN D types. If you are in any doubt at all about the suitability of any glider, consult an instructor or a highly-experienced coach.

Read and download the entire document at

BHPA news about Testing and certification of the new EN D wings

As previously reported, testing of EN D gliders was briefly suspended in November following an accident involving Alain Zoller at Air Turquoise/Para Test while testing a candidate EN D glider. The opinion put forward by Air Turquoise and the SHV was that the current crop of EN D gliders was becoming too dangerous to test. After consideration at the Paraglider Manufacturers Association (PMA) meeting on December 9th it was agreed that the testing of EN D gliders would recommence, citing that the testing house‘s role was to test gliders, not to decide which gliders may or not be tested. However a testing house may still refuse to test a glider if the manufacturer‘s own test flight videos or live demo flights are not satisfactory.

One of the big issues arising was the very tight tolerances in the EN schedule for the 75% collapse test for these wings. This will be addressed in the new EN regime for 2012, which will be updated to make it closer to the wider tolerances in folding angle and collapse percentages permitted in the LTF (DHV) tests.

A second issue was the use of folding lines. These are additional lines which are not part of the canopy as it is sold, but are connected to extra tabs to allow the test pilot to induce an exact 75% collapse at the leading edge that does not exceed 50% at the trailing edge, as specified by the tighter EN tolerances.

An interim consensus has been reached that collapse lines will not be used at all in the testing of EN A and B gliders, and only used on C and D gliders if tests at the testing house first show that the correct collapse can‘t be obtained without them. If fitted they must have the same layout as the A lines. Given the wider tolerances currently specified by LTF for collapse folding, and the imminent changes to the EN standard, it is believed in some quarters that the need for collapse lines will be much reduced. Where they are used, the tabs will now be fitted to production canopies so that collapse lines can be reinstated for the purposes of pilots undergoing SIV training.

The changes in 2012 will harmonise EN and LTF tests, making the testing to both that most manufacturers do much easier. The PMA is trying to find out whether it is possible to switch over to the new EN test regime ahead of schedule. The advantage of all this for former Open Class competition pilots is that they will be getting gliders with greater passive safety and only minor limitations (lower top speed). The downside is that Serial Class pilots will have to realise that the new competition-oriented EN D gliders will be a world apart from the old, familiar EN D class.

Active flying

With thanks to the DHV, a useful article on active flying of paragliders, contains some useful guidance on practicing on the ground. Especially useful to low airtime pilots or those used to only flying when conditions are smooth and easy:

LMSC incident reporting

Please fill in as many of these as possible and send an email to;

  • Date
  • HG or PG
  • LMSC pilots involved or visitor
  • LMSC site
  • Pilot rating, experience and currency
  • Incident title
  • Details
  • Witnesses – names of anyone else who may be a witness
  • Suspected causes
  • Possible preventative measures

Paraglider pilot ground handling injuries

Please be aware that grabbing hold of paraglider lines when air is in the wing will be like grabbing a hot knife – they will cut straight through skin and bone. You will not be able to control the wing if it’s dragging you through holding the lines – any pressure you put into them will have very little effect except to increase the tension on those lines and make them cut you better. The risers are far more effective and much less painfull. It’s hard to think if you are getting dragged, or about to, but do try to think about how best to stop the wing. Also gloves may provide at least some protection.

Boring keep yourself alive stuff

All this is simple learn from others mistakes and not your own!

  • Check your equipment before you launch, don’t assume that your reserve will stay in it’s pouch like it did yesterday – having them come out on take-off or just afterwards is very very dangerous as has been proven time and time again.
  • Double check your pre-flight drill. If someone comes over to talk to you, start again, check your helmet strap, check that you are clipped into the harness properly, check that the lines/wing are ok, check that your instruments are attached properly, check the sky for aircraft and look at the immediate weather coming in. It only takes a few seconds to do that and it stops you looking a plonker.
  • Make sure that you have self briefed yourself, if not briefed by coach etc – where will you land if the wind increases/decreases becomes turbulent. Is the selected location ok and not in crop/cows etc. What is your plan immediately after take-off – left or right turn and why
  • Don’t change more than one thing at a time, different wing, harness, helmet, site, weather conditions. The more new things the greater the mental workload and the lower the ability to cope with unforseen conditions. This goes for Comp’ pilots just as much as new CP’s.

Hang Glider area on the Mynd

It is a mandatory requirement purely on safety grounds that Paragliders do no launch or attempt to do so to the left of the white marked slabs running down the field approximately 1/3 of the way across the field. If any paraglider slope lands in this area – especially low down, then they must bundle their wing up and walk across to the north to the normal Paraglider launch area. Please remember that there may not have been any hang gliders around when you launched, but they could be just out of your sight if you are low, and waiting for the right ‘safe’ moment when no paragliders are passing their launch or landing path. The comments below are from a Hang Glider pilot and should give a balanced perspective as to why this is so important.

“My main concern is for overshooting HG pilots. It has been increasingly the case that PG pilots who slope land in front of the HG take off and overshoot area, either wait where they land and take off again from there or inflate their canopy and walk it back to the PG take off area. When the conditions are marginal (hence the slope landing), it is much more likely that a HG pilot will overshoot his top landing and a canopy that pops up in front of him leaves him no where to go -> fatal accident (it has happened elsewhere). These PG pilots have no view of the top of the field, so have no idea if a hang glider is about to come over when they inflate. Other issues I have are that PG pilots have the habit of turning left after take off and staying in front of the HG take off area (and overshoot area), rather than simply transiting through. This either means that the HG pilot does not aviate at all, or takes off anyway and causes the PG pilot to take sudden avoiding action. Talking to many low time HG pilots, I know that they frequently don’t fly when it is like this for fear of collision on take off or if they overshoot their top landing. As an experienced pilot, I am happy to take my chance but still dislike the potential conflict. The ridge is 4 miles long after all, why not use it? Finally, although not so much of a safety issue, the packing up of PG wings in the middle of the LZ creates a much bigger obstacle for a HG pilot landing than a PG. This is true, not only the less experienced, but for any pilot that suffers rough air on approach.”

Paragliders – pre-flight including checking for twisted risers is critical

Below is an extract from the Analysis section of a fatal accident investigation report published by the AAIB (Air Accident Investigation Branch)

The pilot arrived at the Eyam Edge site and then launched, in a relatively short period of time, with a twisted right riser. A twist in the right riser would have had the effect of increasing friction on the brake control line and making the canopy more difficult to control. It is possible that, shortly after getting airborne, the pilot became aware of this twist but was unable to correct it in flight. Having subsequently suffered an asymmetric canopy collapse and ‘Cravat’, leading to a descending spiral to the left, he would have needed to apply the right brake to recover. Friction burn marks on the twisted riser indicated that the pilot was using a great deal of force with the right brake but, demonstrably, he had insufficient height to affect a recovery.

If a pilot experiences a canopy collapse which provokes a high rate of descent, at heights of 300 feet or less, then the guidance from both the BHPA and the DHV is to use the emergency parachute immediately.

Photography in the air

How often have you watched videos from a paraglider pilot flying, with one or maybe both hands off the brakes, sometimes only a few hundred feet above the ground. There are many many cases throughout the world where serious accidents have happened because the pilot does not have both hands on the brakes. If you have a collapse at this point (which is much more likely because the pilot cannot be flying the wing actively but is merely a passenger at that point). How much height do you need to deploy your reserve safely, because that may be the only chance you have?. Please think, do you really need to take those pictures/video, and if so why don’t you blag a tandem flight, there are lots of tandem pilots around now and most of them are short of people who want to have a go, so just ask around. It’s much more fun with two pilots flying tandem anyway.