Equipment: On Paragliders

Jan On Nemisis
Every new paraglider that we sell has passed an independent airworthiness test. These tests are designed to ensure that the wing is sufficiently strong, that it will react correctly to proper control inputs and that it has no hidden vices.

 

Currently there are two different bodies awarding certification, the German DHV and the AFNOR system. Each wing is entered for testing and is awarded a level which indicates both its level of stability and therefore the level of pilot it is suitable for. The table below shows how the AFNOR and DHV test systems compare. The new unified CEN system is just around the corner however, so be ready for some big changes …


Which glider?

There is a bewildering number of makes and models of glider to choose from!!!
So how do you choose?

  • Firstly, make sure you are choosing the right level of glider for your ability.
  • Remember confidence is more important than performance.
  • Next, pick a glider that you will load correctly.  For most wings, the best place to be is two thirds of the way up the weight range, it’s better to be towards the top then the bottom of the range. With such excellent choices there is no need to compromise this.
  • Look at quality, reputation, warranty and performance. Talk to the pilots and instructors out there flying.
  • Talk to us. We have flown the wings and can help you make the right decision.

The History of Certification:
At some point in time, the DHV (Deutscher Hangegleiter Verband, which is the German Hang Gliding and Paragliding Organization) required that all paragliders that were flown in Germany were certified by DHV. For some time, the DHV had somewhat of a monopoly on the market of certifying gliders. Other agencies had been certifying gliders such as AFNOR (French Association of Normalization), but the requirement of Germany's national organization of all gliders flown in Germany being certified by DHV had manufacturers choosing them to keep that market available. Due to this near monopoly on the market, the CEN ( European Committee for Standardization ) established its own certification standards, and the German Paragliding Association has accepted these ratings. Since this change in the market, various testing agencies have sprouted up and manufacturers have multiple options in choosing a rating agency. If your glider does not have a DHV, LTF, or EN rating, it might have another rating from an older agencies, which are listed below.

DHV – German Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association.
CEN – European Committee for Standardization
AFNOR – French Institute for Standardization
FFVL – French Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association
SHV-FSVL – Swiss Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association / Swiss Free Flight Federation

Why LTF and EN?
In January 2008, the PMA (Paragliding Manufacturers Association) made an agreement to change the name of glider ratings from DHV to LTF. Now, multiple testing companies are able to issue LTF ratings with the same standards.

In general, paragliders are either given an EN or LTF rating. The LTF ratings include 1, 1-2, 2, 2-3, and competition, or 3. EN ratings are A, B, C, or D. A paraglider's rating can be viewed as the measurement of a glider's overall performance and handling. Among other things, the ratings are determined based on testing for how well they react and correct without any pilot input to different situations where the Paraglider leaves normal flight, such as asymmetric deflations. Wings that react more predictably (or recover to normal flight more quickly) from these situations are given a lower rating (LTF-1, EN-A being the lowest).

Gliders that do not react quickly, or take a longer time to recover to normal flight get a higher rating (LTF 2-3, or EN D). Competition gliders (also called Open Class gliders) and Acro gliders are for the most part not rated by these rating organizations and are considered the formula one racers of the paragliding world. The competition gliders have the best glide ratios and speeds.

However, the competition gliders are less stable than the beginner gliders and are flown by highly experienced pilots. It takes more work imput by the pilot for a competition glider to recover to normal flight than it does with a beginner glider. All gliders are load tested to determine if they are strong enough to withstand the highest forces of paraglider flight.

  • Always fly a wing certified for the level of pilot you are.
  • Never buy a wing which cannot be proved to be certified.
  • Do not try extreme manoeuvres unless part of an organized SIV course.