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Certification Agencies

LATEST NEWS 2006
The three paraglider testing houses in Europe [Aerotests (FFVL), Air Turquoise (SHV) & the DHV] are preparing for the new CEN standards.
An idea of the upcoming new standards can be found here.

SHV: Also known as the FSVL, this is the Swiss Hang gliding and Paragliding Association

FFVL: This is the French Hang gliding and Paragliding Association

DHV: This is the German Hang gliding and Paragliding Association

CEN: Comité Européen de Normalisation/ European Committee for Standardization

EHPU: European Hang gliding and Paragliding Union


FFVL ex A.F.NOR(Association Francaise de Normalisation) based in France and D.H.V (Deutscher Haengegleiterverband) of Germany are the leading certification agencies. S.H.V is also quite active of Switzerland. Many countries have their own certification institutes and carry out their own tests.
The standards required are constantly upgraded on a global level. Standards are revised as new information comes to light. The basic differences between AFNOR (ACPUL until 1994) and DHV is that AFNOR bases its tests on video taped maneuvers which must fulfill certain specifications as well as static loading standards. The DHV, which issues the Gutesiegel, considers the test pilot's personal evaluation to be more important. The DHV tests are more numerous and more concise than those of AFNOR. Each system of assessment has its pros and cons: ACPUL used to have 12 tests for all classes but AFNOR no longer applies this system for all classes, which means a paraglider may receive competition pilot approval but not fulfill all the standards for all classes.

In 1999 AFNOR increased its tests to seventeen and now entrusts the carrying out of the tests to the private sector. It lists three classes of solo paragliders -standard, performance, competition - and a class for tandem paragliders. The Swiss SHV harmonizes its standards with that of AFNOR on a regular basis but also works in conjunction with the Italian federation, FIVL. Our continual awareness then is essential, as changes in standards and specifications are constantly being made.
In addition, when they want to meet piloting approval, manufacturers often customize paragliders for the appropriate specifications. Thus gliders may have different behavior even though they are the same models.
Note: In such tests we do not find out actual flight shortcomings. The test pilot simulates a number of scenarios where the wing reacts appropriately. For example, making a correct recovery from an asymmetrical collapse, which can be corrected with ease. What is not tested is how often the specific wing is performing an asymmetrical collapse in turbulence. Thus, I believe that the correct criterion for a wing is the length of time it has been in the market and the general popular opinion of it.
Each certification agency certifies a paraglider with a special label which is stuck onto the wing. Fortunately, a European standardization organization called CEN (European committee for standardization) www.cenorm.be is creating an integrated system of assessment including paragliders, making it easier for consumers to make comparisons. 

AFNOR System of Testing Paragliders

A. Loading Test

1. The wing is loaded with 8 times more weight than what it will be certified for and then pulled aloft by a car. If the test is successful, it goes on to the next one.
2. Paraglider attached to car via rope with a safety release, which activates at 6Gs.This tests, resistance to sudden load.If it passes, it then undergoes the 17 flight tests.

B. The 17 AFNOR Flight Tests

These are flight tests a glider must pass to acquire AFNOR (Association Francaise de normalization) approval.
1. Inflation
2. Landing
3. Speeds field
4. Utilization of the accessories
5. Pitch stability
6. Exit from parachutal stalls
7. Exit from B stalls (slow release)
8. Exit from B stalls (quick release)
9. Attitude to turn
10. Maneuverability
11. Wing over
12. Exit from asymmetrical tuck
13. Exit from holded asymmetrical tuck
14. Exit from spin
15. Exit from asymmetrical stall
16. Exit from symmetrical frontal tuck
17. Exit from tight 360s

Notes:
1. The flight is called "Normal" when the paraglider is fully inflated and flies straight without any intervention of the pilot.
2. "Spontaneous return to flight" means "without intervention of the pilot".
3. "Pilotable" means that if the wing is partially deflated (in the limit of a maximum of the 40% of the wingspan) the pilot can perform 180 turns in both directions without deteriorating the situation.
4. "Piloting accessories" means trim, accelerators and so on.
5. Some paragliders have trimmers. Slow trim equals low speed. Fast trim equals high speed.
6. V min = Minimum speed
7. V max = Maximum speed
8. V trim = Speed without brakes or use of speed bar
9. Classes: 1 = standard, 2 = performance, 3 = competition, 4 = tandem

These procedures may be altered or amended in the course of time.

1. Launch and inflation

The wing must inflate in absence of wind and on flat terrain in 5.5 m (18 ft) (all classes).

2. Landing

The pilot should be able to land in absence of wind, upright, without running (all classes).

3. Speed Range

The paraglider must possess a minimum speed range of 10 km/h (6.25 mph) and must demonstrate flying at V max and V min for at least 10 seconds. Class 1, class 2 with trimmers set to slow, class 4 with 15 km/h (9.4 mph)difference.

4. Use of trimmers and speed bar system

Demonstrate flight for 10 seconds accelerating to V max. Then with slow trimmers at V min (all classes).

5. Shift of speed from V min. to V max

While flying at V min, demonstrate abrupt shifts in speed to V max, trimmers set to fast. Class 1 recovery with dive less than 45°, class 2 dive less than 90°. Class 3 and 4 no requirements.

6. Parachutal stall exit with brakes and slow recovery

A parachutal stall is caused by slowly pulling down the brakes.

In class 1, recovery in 4 seconds and dive up to 45°; classes 2 and 4, dive up to 90°; class 3, dive up to 90° with pilot input.

7. B line stall exit (slow recovery)

B line stall entry, recovery of B risers with slow trimmers. Class 1, less than 45° dive; class 2, less than 90° dive and 4 second recovery with pilot input. Class 3 and 4, no requirements.

8. B line stall exit (quick recovery)

B line stall entry, quick recovery of B risers with fast trimmers.
Class 1, less than 45° dive; class 2, 3 and 4 dive less than 90° and 4-second recovery with pilot input.

9. 360o turn

Vertical stability during abrupt change in direction with slow trimmers. A 360º turn one direction is reversed to the other direction.

Class 1, recovery in less than 18 seconds; class 2, in 20 seconds; class 3 and 4, in 23 seconds with pilot input.

10. Maneuverability

Verifying ability to make fast turns; 90° turn, balances out. Perform an abrupt turn with one brake down and other released. Class 1, normally; class 2 with pilot input; class 3 and 4 recovers normal flight after the turn.

11. Wingover

Uniform turns with 45o dive. Classes 1 and 4 without collapses, classes 2 and 3 with collapses but without a change of course more than 90o.

12. Exit from asymmetric (one-sided) collapse

55% deflation fold is produced and recovery occurs without brakes and a shift of body weight only. Class 1 and 2,

recovers in 4 seconds and turns up to 360o. Classes 3 and 4, pilot can input after 4 seconds, then recovery must be complete in an additional 4 seconds and a turn up to 360o.

13. Exit from asymmetric "held" collapse

55% deflation or fold is produced, assisted by body weight shift, pause for 360o turn, then the riser is released. Class 1, unassisted recovery in less than an additional 360o; class 2 and 3, a 4-second recovery with pilot input and class 4 recovers flight in less than 2 turns.

14. Spin exit

Flying at V min., pilot pulls fully on one brake while releasing the other one until 360o has been turned with trimmers set to fast. Class 1, recovery in less than 360o; class 2 and 4, spin must stop at 360o and at 90o further, enter normal flight. Class 3, no requirement.

15. Exit from asymmetric stall

Flying at V min., pilot pulls fully on one brake and as soon as an asymmetric stall is produced brakes are released. Class 1, unassisted recovery in less than 90º; class 2 and 4, input for recovery in less than 90º. Class 3, no requirements.

16. Exit from collapse

No use of brakes during front collapse using the A risers. Class 1, recovery in 4 seconds with dive less than 45º; class 2, input for recovery in less than 4 seconds, dive less than 90º and change of course less than 45º.

17. Exit from fast turns (spirals)

Two spiral turns with brake recovery on the third turn. Class 1, return to flight in less then 360º; class 2 and 4, recovery in less then two 360º turns; class 3, if no recovery in 360º, pilot inputs and recovery in 360º of turn.
 


In more details


Technical Terms
The flight is called "Normal" when the paraglider is fully inflated and flies straight without any intervention of the pilot.
"Spontaneous return to flight" means "without intervention of the pilot".
"Pilotable" means, also if the wing is partially deflated (in the limit of a maximum of the 40% of the wingspan), that the pilot can perform 180 turns on both the senses without deteriorating the situation.
"Piloting accessories" means trim, accelerators and so on.
"To Be Defined", the procedure has still yet to be defined
Some paragliders have trim. Slow trim equals low speed. Fast trim equals high speed.
V min = min. speed
V max = max. speed
V trim = Speed without brakes or use of speed bar
Classes: 1 = standard, 2 = performance, 3 = competition, 4 = tandem
Notice: Please consider that they may alter in due course


Test 1: Inflation
Objectives
Verification of the possibility of easy inflation phase.
Procedures
To Be Defined
Required results
Standard
To Be Defined
Performance
To Be Defined
Competition
To Be Defined
Twin
To Be Defined


Test 2: Landing
Objectives
Verification of the possibility to land the wing without complex maneuvers.
Procedures
The pilot land using only the commands.
Required results
Standard
Must be possible to land without special maneuvers.
Performance
Same as Standard
Competition
Same as Standard
Twin
Same as Standard


Test 3: Speeds Field
Objectives
Verification that the field of speeds (Vmax - Vmin) is enough and giving the results to the wing builder.
Procedures
The Vmax and the Vmin are maintained for 10 sec., with and without the accessories use, then registered on a instrument.
Required results
Standard
The speeds field must be at least 10 Km/h.
Performance
The same as Standard, but with trims in "slow" position.
Competition
None imposed. The speeds aren't registered.
Twin
The speeds field must be at least 15 Km/h.


Test 4: Accessories Utilisation
Objectives
Verification that all the wing accessories (trim, accelerator, ...) can't be the source of dangerous behavior (es. tuck at Vmax, parachutal stall at Vmin).
Procedures
Vmin: trim set for minimum speed position for 10 sec., the speed is registered and the behaviour is observed. Vmax: accelerator or trim set for maximum speed, no action on commands, maintained for 10 sec., the speed is registered and the behaviour is observed.
Required results
Standard
None exit from the flight domain is accepted. The speeds are recorded.
Performance
Same as Standard.
Competition
Same as Standard.
Twin
Same as Standard.


Test 5: Pitch Stability
Objectives
Verification of the wing pitch stability.
Procedures
With trim set for Vmax, the pilot slow down the wing using the commands. At the stall point, the commands are released quickly.
Required results
Standard
The forward surge must not exceed 45 degrees. Tucks are accepted if they do not cause route changes.
Performance
The maximum forward surge is 90 degrees, Tucks are accepted if they do not cause route change in excess of 90 degrees and the return to flight is spontaneous.
Competition
Test not imposed.
Twin
Test not imposed.


Test 6: Exit from Parachutal Stall
Objectives
Verification the aptitude of the wing to regain the normal flight exiting from a parachutal stall (using commands).
Procedures
With the commands, the pilot slow down the wing. At the stall point the commands are slowly released until the highest speed position. If after 4 sec. the wing is still in parachutal stall phase, the pilot applies the wing Owner's Manual instructions.
Required results
Standard
Spontaneous exit form parachutal stall in less than 4 sec, forward surge less than 45 degrees, route change less than 180 degrees.
Performance
Same as Standard, but with forward surge less than 90 degrees.
Competition
Forward surge up to 90 degrees (horizon), return to normal flight during the 4 sec following the pilot intervention.
Twin
Same as Performance. 


Test 7: Exit from "B" Stalls (slow release)
Objectives
Verification of the possibility of perform a emergency descent using the "B" technique, if it's foreseen on the wing Owner's Manual, and verifying the wing pitch stability.
Procedures
If there are accessories, they must be set in Vmin position. The pilot pull the "B" risers until reaching the "B" stall, then release it slowly. If the wing remains in parachutal stall, the pilot applies the wing Owner's Manual instructions.
Required results
Standard
Forward surge less than 45 degrees, tuck accepted if it does not cause a route change and if it re-inflate spontaneously.
Performance
Forward surge less than 90 degrees, return to normal flight during the 4 sec. following the pilot intervention.
Competition
Test not imposed.
Twin
Test not imposed.


Test 8: Exit from "B" Stalls (quick release)
Objectives
Verification of the possibility of the wing to return to normal flight exiting from a "B" stall.
Procedures
If there are accessories, they must be set in Vmax position. The pilot pull the "B" risers until reaching the "B" stall, then release it quickly. If the wing remains in parachutal stall, the pilot applies the wing Owner's Manual instructions.
Required results
Standard
Forward surge less than 45 degrees, tuck accepted if it does not cause a route change and if it re-inflates spontaneously.
Performance
Forward surge less than 90 degrees, return to normal flight during the 4 sec. following the pilot intervention.
Competition
Forward surge less than 90 degrees, return to normal flight during the 4 sec. following the pilot intervention.
Twin
If the wing Owner's Manual does not specify the possibility of perform "B" stalls, it's not tested; else the same as Performance.


Test 9: Attitude to turn
Objectives
Verification of a good aptitude to turn of the wing.
Procedures
If there are accessories, they must be set to Vmin position. The pilot perform a 360 degree turn towards a direction, then to the opposite, as fast as possible.
Required results
Standard
The turn is performed without weight shifting. Maximum time to perform the maneuver: 18 sec.
Performance
The turn is performed using weight shift (if necessary). Maximum time to perform the maneuver: 20 sec.
Competition
The turn is performed using weight shift (if necessary). Maximum time to perform the maneuver: 23 sec.
Twin
Same as Competition.


Test 10: Maneuverability
Objectives
verification of the possibility to turn quickly, for example to avoid an obstacle.
Procedures
The pilot pulls a command to the lowest position, with the other completely released. After a 90 degree turn, it release the command, stabilize the wing and repeat the maneuver in the opposite sense.
Required results
Standard
No exit from the normal flight domain.
Performance
Same as Standard, but using weight shifting if the wing Owner's Manual specify it.
Competition
No exit from the normal flight domain or return to the normal flight by itself at the end of the maneuver.
Twin
Same as Competition


Test 11: Wing Over
Objectives
Verification of the wing aptitude to slide in turn and to return in normal flight.
Procedures
The pilot performs a series of turns with at least 45 degree bank angle.
Required results
Standard
No tucks permitted.
Performance
Tucks permitted if the return to normal flight with less than 90 degree course deviation.
Competition
Same as for Performance
Twin
As per Standard


Test 12: Exit from Asymmetrical Tuck
Objectives
Simulation of a known effect of turbulence.
Procedures
The pilot provokes a tuck of at least 55% of the wingspan, then shift the weight on the inflated side and waits for 4 sec before using the commands (if necessary).
Required results
Standard
Spontaneous return to pilotable flight in less than 4 sec, and maximum course deviation of 360 degrees.
Performance
Same as Standard but maximum course deviation of 360 degrees.
Competition
If the return to normal flight isn't effective after 360 degrees, the pilot intervene and the wing must return to be pilotable in less than 360 degrees and 4 sec.
Twin
Same as Competition


Test 13: Exit from Asymmetrical Tuck Maintained
Objectives
Simulation of a known effect of turbulence.
Procedures
The pilot provokes a tuck of at least 55% of the wingspan, then shift the weight on the inflated side and waits until a complete 360 degree turn before release quickly the riser which permitted the tuck realization.
Required results
Standard
Spontaneous return to pilotable flight with less than 360 degree course deviation.
Performance
If the wing does not return spontaneously to normal flight, the pilot follow the wing Owner's Manual indication and the wing must return pilotable in less than 4 sec and 360 degree turn.
Competition
Same as Performance
Twin
Return to spontaneous flight in less than 2 turns.


Test 14: Exit from spin
Objectives
Observation of the exit form a spin and verification of the stability on 3 axis.
Procedures
With the trim in Vmax position (if available), the pilot slow down the wing until Vmin, then apply full brake on a side, releasing completely the other, maintaining this position for 360 degrees, then equilibrate the commands.
Required results
Standard
The wing must return spontaneously to normal flight, but can prosecute the rotation for not more than 360 degrees in the same direction of the spin.
Performance
The wing can prosecute the rotation for not more than 360 degrees, then must return spontaneously to normal flight in less than 90 degrees.
Competition
Test not imposed.
Twin
Same as Performance


Test15: Exit from asymmetrical stall
Objectives
Verification of the possibility of returning to normal flight in consequence of an involuntary asymmetrical stall.
Procedures
The pilot slow down the wing until Vmin, then apply full brake to one side, until provoke an asymmetrical stall, then release quickly both the commands.
Required results
Standard
Spontaneous return to normal flight, with a course change less than 90 degrees.
Performance
If the wing does not reinflates by itself, the pilot apply the indication of the wing Owner's Manual, and the wing must return to normal flight with a course change less than 90 degrees.
Competition
Test not imposed.
Twin
Same as Performance


Test 16: Exit from Symmetrical Frontal Tuck
Objectives
Simulation of a known effect of turbulence.
Procedures
Using the front risers, the pilot provoke a symmetrical frontal tuck, the release quickly the risers. During the maneuver the commands are not utilized.
Required results
Standard
Return spontaneous to normal flight in less than 4 sec, with a forward surge less than 45 degrees.
Performance
If the wing does not reinflate by itself, the pilot intervene and the wing must return to normal flight in less than 4 sec, with a course change of less than 45 degrees and a forward surge maximum of 90 degrees.
Competition
Test not imposed.
Twin
Test not imposed.


Test 17: Exit from tight 360
Objectives
Observation of the wing aptitude to return in normal flight after a series of tight 360s.
Procedures
The pilot begins a spiral dive, maintaining it for 2 turns, then release slowly the commands during the 3rd turn.
Required results
Standard
Return to spontaneous flight in less than 360 degrees
Performance
Return spontaneous to flight in less than 2 turns.
Competition
If the wing remains in spiral dive, the pilot intervene and the wing must return to normal flight in less than 360 degrees
Twin
Same as Performance 

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