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skybytch

FAA violation for packing a 20 year old rig?

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Rumor has it that a rigger was recently threatened with an FAR violation by the FAA. This rigger packed a Softie pilot emergency rig that was over 20 years old.

A 20 year service life was imposed on new Softies last year. This is so noted in the new owners manual. But there was no attempt made to contact riggers to let them know that this change was retroactive to all Softies regardless of DOM, nor was an AD issued stating the same thing, which would lead a reasonable person to believe that the service life applies only to gear built after last year.

Regardless of how you feel about packing gear over 20 years old, what really sucks here is that the rumor has it that it was a rigger (and a dealer of Softies, strangely enough) who contacted the FAA and caused them to contact the other rigger and threaten him with the loss of his ticket. That's pretty screwed up, imho.

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Bytch... I'm confused... are you asking...

1) What's people's opinion on the mfgr and/or FAA not getting the word out better that one shouldn't pack a Softie over 20 years old?

2) Your inference that one rigger / dealer dime'ed out another rigger to the FAA is f'ed up?

Or are you just not so subtly trying to pass the word for folks to watch their ass when it comes to old gear they're not infinitely familiar with?

:S


[edit]

Um, I'm sorry... or weren't you asking anything, just saying?

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If I were said rigger that received the complaint from the FAA, I'd tell them to go hang for two reasons. One, if it's not an AD, it's optional, and not enforceable. Two, there is no clarity to what equipment is affected under the manufacturer's newly imposed rule.

If I were the reporting rigger, I think I'd be watching out for a punch in the nose.
----------------------------------------------
You're not as good as you think you are. Seriously.

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First, the FAA will no longer issue ANY AD on a parachute. Manufacturer's have asked (begged perhaps) and they wouldn't do it.

Second, it's in the current manual. That makes it a enforceable as the manufacturer's instructions. Yes, this point is dabatable among riggers but not to the FAA inspectors I've asked. Their opinion was the latest manual applied unless otherwise stated, and that a life limit in the manual was an "instruction" to be followed.

I'm not writing my opinion, only relating facts and discussions with FAA inspectors.
I'm old for my age.
Terry Urban
D-8631
FAA DPRE

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There is no method to contact riggers. As I stated above the FAA will no longer issue AD's on any parachute. They don't consider parachutes to be eligible for AD's. I used to know their explination but it's too late for me to remember.

Currently this may be the best place to contact riggers.:S And it was/has been discussed here.

The PIA Rigging committee will be putting together a policy for compiling a rigger email list for items to be pushed out to. I'll be accepting email addresses in the near future. NOT NOW please!

As for a rigger droping a dime on another rigger? There are times its necessary. This probably wasn't one. But, this has been a continuing debate. Can a rigger ignore a manufacturer's life limit by deciding a rig is airworthy? There are a lot of riggers, and people that train riggers, that think they can. There are others that don't believe it's allowed. And as I said above the FAA inspectors I've asked have said if it's in the manual it must be followed.

Maybe now we'll know for sure.
I'm old for my age.
Terry Urban
D-8631
FAA DPRE

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Hi Terry,

Quote

And as I said above the FAA inspectors I've asked have said if it's in the manual it must be followed.



And ask two others and you will get a different 'interpretation' of the 'req'ment.'

Apparently, there was no violation; only a threat. Why? Because if it were to go up the FAA 'chain of command' they would lose.

Without an AD there is no way for a rigger to know as an absolute. Even you have said the manuals are vague.

Just my thoughts . . .

JerryBaumchen

PS) I agree with diablopilot.

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Jerry,

AD's are a non issue. They no longer exist for parachutes. The lack of an AD is not a defence because there is no such thing aa an AD for a parachute anymore. (something to try to change)

As best I can figure out you're using ignorance as the defence. But that rarely has been valid. We are supposed to use the manual. So the question is should it be the manual that came with the rig? Rarely available even though it should be. The last manual we have? Any manual we have? Or the latest manual from the manufacturer?

In the old days finding and acquiring manuals was sometimes tough and sometimes expensive. Now it's easy. Should that change in access change the expectations of the FAA?

I don't know.

But, lets assume that knowledge is no longer an issue. A new rig on the market comes out with a life limit. The original manual and only manual ever available states it. Do YOU believe the rigger is required to abide by that life limit and not pack a parachute past the life limit?

Yes, FAA inspectors have different opinions and interpretations. But I haven't found one yet that thinks a rigger doesn't have to follow a life limit IN A CURRENT MANUAL, unless the manufacturer states otherwise. Have you received the alternative specific opinion from an inspector? If so I'd like to talk to them. Really, I mean it. Because this is an issue that will have to be resolved at some point.

Again, I'm not stating what MY opinion is. Only the opinions of the FAA personnel I've talked to.
I'm old for my age.
Terry Urban
D-8631
FAA DPRE

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Second, it's in the current manual. That makes it a enforceable as the manufacturer's instructions. Yes, this point is dabatable among riggers but not to the FAA inspectors I've asked. Their opinion was the latest manual applied unless otherwise stated, and that a life limit in the manual was an "instruction" to be followed.



I am not a rigger, but I was curious if you had some 20 year old gear to repack, and a 3 year old manual covering said gear, what is the likelihood of a typical rigger checking for new manuals before proceeding? Is it something that most riggers do for every pack job? annually? or is it just as likely for the rigger to assume that since the manual was written 17 years after the gear was manufactured it should be valid?

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We are supposed to use the manual. So the question is should it be the manual that came with the rig? Rarely available even though it should be. The last manual we have? Any manual we have? Or the latest manual from the manufacturer?



Good questions. It would make the most sense to use the manual that came with the rig.

If a manufacturer wants you to use the latest manual on an older rig, they should explicitly say so. They should tell you to abandon the old manual and use the new one.

Anyone ever seen this in a manual?

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The FAR's say we have to follow the manufacturer's instructions for parachtues also.



But where is the clarification that says which instructions? I know a loft that has just about every manual made for a parachute. The have every AD issued on a parachute. And they update frequently.

When working on a 20 year old rig, if they have a manual that was current at the time of manufacture, are they obligated to find a newer one? What if the manual was from last month, and the new manual changed today?

The FAA inspector's standard is unenforceable. The FAA has taken the position that they don't want to be involved in regulation because they don't want to issue AD's but they want to enforce actions that they have no standards on? I don't think so.
----------------------------------------------
You're not as good as you think you are. Seriously.

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Quote

We are supposed to use the manual. So the question is should it be the manual that came with the rig? Rarely available even though it should be. The last manual we have? Any manual we have? Or the latest manual from the manufacturer?



Good questions. It would make the most sense to use the manual that came with the rig.

If a manufacturer wants you to use the latest manual on an older rig, they should explicitly say so. They should tell you to abandon the old manual and use the new one.

Anyone ever seen this in a manual?



Yep, Flight Concepts latest reserve manual banning clamps. Pretty sure I've seen it other places too but this is the one I knew I could find fast.

Quote from http://flightconceptsint.com/forms/reserve2006.pdf page 6.

"First Edition: March 1994
Second Edition: December 1999
Third Edition: November 2006
The 2006 Revision Supersedes All Previous Editions."

Sandy has indicated in the past that the manual that came with the rig should be used for Rigging Innovations. Old manuals are on line.

The FAA inspector I deal with most has stated the latest manual should apply unless otherwise stated. Manufacturers aren't good about stating.

Javelins are a case where the manual has changed and can be used with older rigs.
I'm old for my age.
Terry Urban
D-8631
FAA DPRE

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Quote

The FAR's say we have to follow the manufacturer's instructions for parachtues also.



Quote

But where is the clarification that says which instructions? I know a loft that has just about every manual made for a parachute. The have every AD issued on a parachute. And they update frequently.



The last AD issued on a parachute was in 1999 for the amp fittings on Vector. http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgAD.nsf/list/99-01-11?OpenDocument There have been many service bulletins since then. And some that the manufacturers wanted to be AD, distributed to all riggers with the force of law. But FAA won't do it anymore.

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When working on a 20 year old rig, if they have a manual that was current at the time of manufacture, are they obligated to find a newer one? What if the manual was from last month, and the new manual changed today?



I agree that looking is a pain, but see the Flight Concepts manual linked above. Clearly all other manuals are obsolete. Did they tell us? Not directly. There is no mechanism. That's why PIA is going to try to help with a rigger notification email system. Details to come.

Quote

The FAA inspector's standard is unenforceable. The FAA has taken the position that they don't want to be involved in regulation because they don't want to issue AD's but they want to enforce actions that they have no standards on? I don't think so.



IIRC it's isn't not wanting to be involved in regulation that is the reason for not issuing AD's. It that the interpretation of a parachute has changed. It used to be considered an appliance.

CFR definition "Appliance means any instrument, mechanism, equipment, part, apparatus, appurtenance, or accessory, including communications equipment, that is used or intended to be used in operating or controlling an aircraft in flight, is installed in or attached to the aircraft, and is not part of an airframe, engine, or propeller.'

They no longer consider it an appliance. AD's are only issued on (14 CFR 39.3) "FAA's airworthiness directives are legally enforceable rules that apply to the following products: aircraft, aircraft engines, propellers, and appliances."

So no AD's on parachutes.

They have standards. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Yes it's broken. No there isn't a mechanism for all riggers to be legally notified of anything. And PIA's system won't fix that. So I guess the riggers in the best shape are those that never look at a manuf. website or call a manuf. and just go by the manual sent with a parachute.

Should someone get busted for not knowing about Sofites (or Nationals)? No. Should a rigger that knows pack one older than 20 years? Jury is still out. But I'm still waiting for the FAA employee that says it's okay.
I'm old for my age.
Terry Urban
D-8631
FAA DPRE

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Quote

Second, it's in the current manual. That makes it a enforceable as the manufacturer's instructions. Yes, this point is dabatable among riggers but not to the FAA inspectors I've asked. Their opinion was the latest manual applied unless otherwise stated, and that a life limit in the manual was an "instruction" to be followed.



I am not a rigger, but I was curious if you had some 20 year old gear to repack, and a 3 year old manual covering said gear, what is the likelihood of a typical rigger checking for new manuals before proceeding? Is it something that most riggers do for every pack job? annually? or is it just as likely for the rigger to assume that since the manual was written 17 years after the gear was manufactured it should be valid?



Depends on the rigger. Someone like me around the industry and on here will usually know about a change. Other's who haven't been around the industry or sport for years but still pack pilot rigs for their buddies probably won't go look and won't know.

Should a rigger go look? We should be going and looking for service bulletins for every pack job. Do we? Some do and some don't. Not much different for instructions. We're required to have them. And if they have changed we're required to have the new ones.

The best example is the Flight Concepts manual. They believed that clamps were illegal because they didn't specifically allow their use in the previous manual. I debated with them that the use of clamps for fabric testing as well as packing and inspection has become the standard as demonstrated by PIA TS 108 Pull test, the FAA Parachute Rigger Handbook and other manauls and instructions. If they didn't want them used they should so state. They didn't specify every tool that was allowed in their manual. They changed their manual. I disagree with their opinion but it's in the manual so now I have to live by it.

But how many riggers know this?

Bottom line is we do the best we can, we do what we think is right and for the most part don't put something in the air if it is unsafe.
I'm old for my age.
Terry Urban
D-8631
FAA DPRE

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Um, I'm sorry... or weren't you asking anything, just saying?



The information that has been shared already in this thread was one of my reasons for posting. This is an area that desperately needs clarification - especially if interpreting things the wrong way could cost someone their ticket.

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Screwed up, yes. Legitimate threat, maybe.

Far 65.129 No certificated parachute rigger may-

...(f) exercise the privileges of his certificate and type rating unless he understands the current manufacturer's instructions for the operation involved and has-...

It kinda sounds like the current manufacturer's instructions take precedence over previous instructions unless explicitly stated in writing. unless my interpretation is wrong.

checking manuals online for current manufacturer instructions seems prudent common sense if for nothing else than the fact that many pilots are on the 3 or 5 yr extended repack cycle.

not saying that a failure to contact the previous rigger directly in a situation like this isn't a dick type move, cause it is. But i have no information on that.

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They have standards. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.



If I have a Mirage that was built in 1985, should I pack it according to the manual that came with it, or according to the newest Mirage manual? They are completely different animals as far as packing the reserve is concerned, and yet they are built under the same TSO.

Point being, if I'm using the most current manual for a particular harness/container system brand, it may not contain correct instructions/diagrams for the one I am currently packing.

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Far 65.129 No certificated parachute rigger may-

...(f) exercise the privileges of his certificate and type rating unless he understands the current manufacturer's instructions for the operation involved and has-...



To add to this:

Now that only says the rigger must UNDERSTAND the instructions, not follow them. :)
Part (e), in contrast, says:

Quote

FAR 65.129 - No certificated parachute rigger may -
(e) Pack, maintain, or alter a parachute in any manner that deviates from the procedures approved by an FAA administrator OR the manufacturer of the parachute;



Here it gets into the packing and maintaining... BUT, it refers to "procedures approved", not to "currently approved", so they could be any procedures approved at any time in the past -- as long as they were approved.

That's a pretty picky interpretation, but if you are going that route, you'd just say that you are following procedures that were approved, and that in comparing them to the CURRENT approved procedures, you see nothing that would make the rig unsafe for emergency use -- in which case you couldn't pack it according to another part of the FARs.


It is curious that in the Softie manual, the section right after the "20 year life" section is a copy of FAR 65.129, with a warning that violating this is do do something illegal!

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Well I hope people vote with their feet and not support mfgs that take the easy way out by life limiting their products. Controling the inspection process by having it sent back to the factory for inspection like PD does is the proper and fair way to do it. If a rig is worn 8 hours a day for 15 years it would probably end up as a car cover(if it made it that long) before 20 years based on a riggers decision not some arbitrary document that was not issued with the rig when it was new.
Replying to: Re: Stall On Jump Run Emergency Procedure? by billvon

If the plane is unrecoverable then exiting is a very very good idea.

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The problem is that we don't have any good non-destructive tests to see if the materials are good enough for continued airworthiness. Certainly after 20 years, rigs made at the same time will have very different histories, so strength and condition tests would have to be done for individual rigs instead of batches.

PD does a visual inspection of fabric, lines, and general condition. They check fabric permeability at several places, and do fabric strength pull tests at a few other places. They don't check if there has been any deterioration in the strength of thread, tape, or lines.

What would be the equivalent inspection for a harness? A visual inspection may not tell you about deterioration of strength. A pull test to, say, 3000 pounds (a force frequently seen in TSO testing), may be a destructive test. If there is no adequate test, is the best course of action to say that the harness is safe for continued use?

One possible solution is to require a test to destruction of some representative components of the system. A para-glider annual inspection sometimes includes deliberately pulling one suspension line to destruction. Lines are relatively cheap; the destroyed line is easily replaced. On an articulated harness, we might pull one of the main lift webs to 3000 pounds and replace it even if it survives. If it survives, that would be an indicator that the rest of the harness was okay too. On an unarticulated harness like Softies, you'd wind up replacing about half the harness. That would be an expensive test, probably not worth it for a 20-year old rig.

Mark

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But are they the same part number?



The rig can have the exact same part, but still be manufacturered differently.

The whole 20 year life issue sucks. i have made my mind up NOT to support the manufacturers that do this.

I used to be a big Para-Phernalia fan, but no longer.

The same goes for Butler....


PIA needs to get their act together.

With this measure, they basically state that a rigger does not have the ability or right to determine if a parachute system is airworthy or not.

The FAA thinks differently as I hear it.


The second part of the problem is that USPA and PIA issue a notice to riggers claiming that the riggers are responsible of determining if a system is compatible and airworthy!!!

In this issue the manufacturer simply wants to push responsibilty of a poorly designed system over to the rigger.

This would be just like Toyota stating that the garage mechanic down the road could OK the throttle issue that they are still going through.


Both the USPA and PIA have no regulatory oversight with regards to riggers and their work.

With that said, which train of thought does PIA have?
Do you think riggers have the ability to and right to determine if a rig is airworthy or not?

So which is it?


From what I am hearing Part 149 may be coming back.

If so, I would just make mine a repair station and rebuild the affected rigs. ...and yes that is legal. even now.


BS,
MEL
Skyworks Parachute Service, LLC
www.Skyworksparachuteservice.com

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Hi Terry,

We can agree & we can disagree; that is one definition of freedom.

Quote

As best I can figure out you're using ignorance as the defence.



Nope, just the vagueness in the regs & manuals. BTW, you ( and others keep ) referring to the 'manual' when no manual is req'd under TSO C23b; where the Softie was certificated.

Quote

Do YOU believe the rigger is required to abide by that life limit and not pack a parachute past the life limit?



In an absolute sense: No; I agree with Mark Lancaster on this ( see his later posting ).

Quote

Yes, FAA inspectors have different opinions and interpretations.



Nothing new to me.

Quote

Have you received the alternative specific opinion from an inspector?



No, I only talk to them when I want to. They never come to me.

Quote

Only the opinions of the FAA personnel I've talked to.



By far, the biggest variable in the mix.

Quit talking to them; it is just their opinions, and when pressed they usually just clam up.

You want to know the position of the FAA: Write a very detailed letter to them. You might get an answer sometime before you are dropped into your casket. Why? Because they do not want to get into this BS. That is why if they ever came after me on this I would fight them tooth & nail. I would shove their own regs and the 'various' manuals at their Legal Counsel and ask him what applies.

I do really hesitate to say this; but I spent 30 yrs working for the feds; was involved in numerous lawsuits; and found our General Counsel almost always folded when the **** hit the fan.

No Administrative Law Judge wants to be overturned by a higher authority; it's called an Appeal.

But my philosophy of life is that we each should makeup our own minds and act accordingly.

And remember: There are no guarentees in life.

Sorry to be so sarcastic but I don't really like the FAA. I have not found them to be honorable people.

JerryBaumchen

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