Strong PEP Link Covers

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This discussion originated on another site, but it seemed as though it would be appropriate to post here as well.

My e-mail to SE: The question is:
As SE has long placed non-reusable heat shrink covers over the French links on its PEPs, which once removed could only be replaced by disconnecting the line-to-riser connection to thread on new heat-shrink tubing, is it SE's intension that the rigger:
    - only inspect the links through the existing cover,
    - remove the cover, decouple the system, thread on new covers, inspect and reassemble, or
    - remove the cover and inspect as per industry standard practice, and leave them without covers?

We specifically note that (as an example), the 304 Manual dated March 2021 indicates that one should:

                Section 5. Pre-Packing Inspection
                     • Check the barrels on #6 Rapide link for cracks.
                     • Check that links are tight.

This would imply that the covers must be removed in order to perform this inspection.
If the cover is not supposed to be removed, does this mean we must ground a rig that comes to us without the heat shrink cover?

Do you allow other types of link covers (such as the slide-able vinyl tubing with a retaining tack loop, common on main skydiving canopies utilizing hard links)?

As a follow-up/related question:

Some who understand the instructions to mean that the covers are to be removed, and who have concerns that the then loose lines on the links could slide around the link exposing them to uneven loading during deployment, have suggested that, as with other manufacturers instructions on similarly rigged PEPs, the lines should be tacked as a group. (see pg 9 of the Butler "Personnel Canopy Packing Instructions" for example)

Does SE endorse, allow, or not allow the tacking of the lines into a group for this purpose?


The response from SE:
In order for the links to be properly inspected you must remove the heat shrink. While the heat shrink can be replaced in the field as mentioned by decoupling the system we do approve that the heat shrink be left off. In this case we recommend that the link be hand tacked as close as possible on the riser end to prevent side loading and that the lines be tacked into groups preventing them from sliding out of place. We also approve the use of the mentioned vinyl tubing with retaining tack loop as an alternative link cover.



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