Why do reserves go out of date?Aerofix Admin2019-01-04T09:26:39+00:00
The manufacturer’s service life is the best guidance there is
It would be ideal if we could test reserves like we can paragliders to be able to conclude they remain servicable, but unfortunately that’s not possible. Given that the pilot’s life may depend on the speed and reliability of deployment, we follow the BHPA guidance to observe the manufacturer’s guidance on emergency parachute service life.
If you would like to know more, read this article
How long does a reserve last?Aerofix Admin2019-01-04T10:20:57+00:00
Usually 10 years, but it can be up to 12 or 14
Most manufacturers specify a ten year service life. Examples include Gin and Ozone. But some others stipulate a longer period, such as Independence who stand by a 12 year service life for their reserves. We have seen other manufacturers extending that to 14. It’s worth factoring the service life length in to any consideration of the price of a replacement reserve.
Is a square safer than a round PDA?Aerofix Admin2019-01-04T12:01:42+00:00
There’s not much in it, but a square may be slightly better
Modern PDA and square reserves are both quick in deployment and stable as they descend. But the flatter shape of the typical square reserve may make it slightly quicker to deploy, and stabilise faster.
Another aspect of square reserves is that they do tend to track in one direction or another. This has two consequences. The first is that the horizontal tracking creates lift, resulting in a slightly lower descent rate for the same size, allowing squares to be slightly smaller and lighter to achieve the same descent rate. The second is that the tracking could mean that there is a greater (or lower) horizontal speed on landing, since the direction of track is random, so it could add to or reduce effect of the prevailing wind.
Should I get a steerable reserve?Aerofix Admin2019-01-04T11:14:21+00:00
Is the extra cost worth it?
There are two different types of steerable reserve available: the established Rogallo design; and the newer steerable square.
The Rogallo is particularly quick to open, so can be faster than a square. However, the design is much more complex, and as a consequence there is a greater risk of a complication in deployment than with a standard square or round PDA type. The steerable square is simpler, and not as prone to this risk.
Before steerable control can be established, the main canopy needs to be disabled, brought in and secured in some manner. This can be difficult and take some time. Keeping the main secure may require the use of one hand, reducing control to the use of just one hand. Have a look at some example test deployments online to understand the practical issues that need to be overcome before a reserve can be steered.
Pilots who fly with two reserves will have a back up should the deployment of a Rogallo fail. Those who fly extensively in remote mountainous areas may see significant benefit in being able to glide on descent to a more appropriate landing area. In these cases, it is easier to see that the additional risks of a steerable have been mitigated, and the benefit justifies the additional cost. In other cases, it may be worth reflecting further to determine whether or not the advantages of a steerable design are worthwhile.
How do I know it’s compatible with my harness?Aerofix Admin2019-01-04T11:21:24+00:00
Compatibility is best checked by a BHPA qualified packer
The most significant risk is that the reserve is the wrong shape or size to easily come out of the harness compartment. There can be other risks associated with the handle attachment point, and the length of the handle or bridle.
For these reasons, we recommend that you seek advice and help from someone who has been trained and qualified through the BHPA programme. There may be someone in your local club who can help, or you can ask a professional packer to check compatibility and install your reserve.
Should I install a reserve myself?Aerofix Admin2019-01-04T12:04:10+00:00
We’d recommend you ask for advice from a qualified packer
You can follow the manuals for your reserve and harness carefully if you like, but take particular care to ensure that the reserve is compatible with the harness. If you’re in any doubt, seek advice and help from someone who has been trained and qualified through the BHPA programme. There may be someone in your local club who can help, or you can ask a professional packer to check compatibility and install your reserve.