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Parachute reserve woes

PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 7:44 pm
by Dave Thomas
I have recently helped a friend and fellow pilot with a harness and reserve that hadn't been used for a little while.

While extracting the reserve it failed the first test - letting the inner container hang from the lines and it should just fall out as it drops out of the inner bag and the rubber hands that hold the folds of lines fall off. They didn't. A little shake didn't help then a fairly robust shake didn't either. What that might have meant was in the event of a deployment it would just hang below the harness while you all descend at an unpleasant rate.

Another issue was the rubber bands - very simple long thin rubber hands, that had been placed around the connection between harness bridle and the parachute strop that had rotted away, glued themselves to the wrong part of the metal and any deployment would have put the load across where the nut is. Apparently this is a complete no-no and likely to cause catastrophic failure of the link between harness and reserve if there's any force in the parachute opening.

I'm not a licensed packer, but have watched and listened to a fair few who are and these issues are fairly fundamental failure issues. What it does show is the following:

1) Repack your reserve regularly - rubber bands deteriorate at quite a rapid rate and have unexpected side effects.

2) During the repack process, you must check that what you have done does allow the deployment. Manufactures such as Advance actually carry out multiple deployment tests using a G inducing machine to test how the harness and reserve behaves under extreme G loading as the harness deforms in this situation. After all a pilot is unlikely to be pulling the reserve out while flying sedately along in calm air.

3) Packing and fitting a reserve to harness is a relatively simple job, but far better to do it with support and advice from someone more experienced - it's a case of more eyes seeing and feeling things differently. Of course the best approach is to have your reserve professionally packed or supervised by such a person. I'm not advocating me as an appropriate person.