Those of you not interested in flying or aviation may not care much, but some long hard work by my favorite parachute riggers (Allen and Darrin Silver of Silver Parachute Sales & Service) may be coming to fruition soon.

On behalf of the Parachute Industry Association & United States Parachute Association, they have petitioned for an exemption to the current FAA mandated 120-day repack cycle. Currently, glider and light airplane pilots like me have to get their parachutes repacked every 120 day by a certified parachute rigger such as Allen. Their goal is to move from a 120 day repack cycle to 180 days.

Many other countries around the world have been using longer (up to 360 day or 1 year) repack cycles and have found that to work rather well. Modern parachutes are built of amazingly durable materials that will last a long, long time if treated properly. The main purpose of these periodic repacks (when the parachute hasn't been deployed) it to have an expert take the time to examine the material and look for signs of wear or aging.

The full documentation of the proposed rule changes is available on-line in Document FAA-2005-21829-9.

Feedback Needed

The abstract says:

The FAA is considering rulemaking to change the packing interval for certain types of parachutes. Currently, the FAA requires that most parachutes may not be used or carried aboard an aircraft and available for emergency use unless they have been packed within the previous 120 days. New reliability data from the parachute industry and other sources indicate it is time to review the packing interval, and the FAA is asking for public comment on a proposal to lengthen the interval from 120 to 180 days. The effect of the proposal is to ensure the rules reflect the safest parachute packing interval. In this rulemaking, we are also proposing several correcting amendments to the rules related to parachute operations. DATES: Send your comments on or before August 20, 2007.

And that last bit is important. The FAA would like to hear from pilots or parachute jumpers with opinions on this matter. I, for one, plan to voice my support for this change.

Please pass the word if you know of other pilots or jumpers who might be interested in seeing this rule change go into law.

A press release was issued on this last week, but I've been unable to find a copy on-line. So I'm including the text below for reference.

Allen Silver
Silver Parachute Sales & Service
Fax 510-785-9231

Longer Parachute Repacks on the Horizon

Hayward, CA, 22 May 2007 — Silver Parachute Sales & Service is spear-heading a multi-organizational effort to extend the repack cycle of emergency parachutes from 120 days to 180 days.

A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the 180-day repack has just gone out for public comment. All pilots who use emergency parachutes are encouraged to comment on this NPRM.

Two years ago Allen Silver and Darrin Silver; working on behalf of the Parachute Industry Association & United States Parachute Association; petitioned for an exemption to the 120-day repack cycle. “We're discovering that the newer parachute materials perform better when handled less frequently,” says Allen Silver, a master rigger with over 40 years experience in the field of parachutes. “Right now, twenty-five other countries safely use repack cycles of 180 days or longer.”

In a letter dated August 10th 2005, the FAA stated that since such a large group was requesting the exemption, it would be appropriate to initiate a rule change project. This is good news for everyone who wears a parachute. Darrin Silver notes, “In addition to the safety benefits, pilots will now see reduced maintenance costs on their parachute equipment and can make it through an entire airshow or contest season without the downtime of having a parachute repacked!”

Comments regarding the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking [identified by Docket Number FAA–2005–21829] may be sent using any of the following methods:

DOT Docket Web site:
Go to and follow the instructions for sending comments electronically.

Fax: 1–202–493–2251

Docket Management Facility
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE.
West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12–140
Washington, DC 20590–0001

For additional information on the proposal to extend the parachute repack cycle to 180 days, contact Allen Silver at 510-785-7070 or visit

About Silver Parachute Sales & Service
Silver Parachute Sales & Service has been serving aerobatic and glider pilots worldwide since 1972. They are dedicated to providing in-depth, personal parachute service to aerobatic and glider pilots. Silver Parachute Sales & Service specializes in emergency parachutes and offers complete rigging services including repack & recertification, major repair & alteration, as well as manufacturing the AcroBelt five-point ratchet restraint system and S.M.A.K. PAK parachute survival kits.

Posted by jzawodn at May 29, 2007 06:03 PM

Reader Comments
# David said:

Other than eliminating the recurring cost of re-packing, what is the advantage here? Does it take that long to get a chute packed? Is there really that much wear and tear in repacking?

on May 29, 2007 06:51 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

There can be a time delay factor, depending where you live and how busy your rigger is. And, yeah, the act of unpacking and re-packing does add wear. Granted, it's not much, but still...

on May 29, 2007 06:57 PM
# NonairplaneY! said:

Just out of interest - how much does a parachute cost? If pilots currently can't get "through an entire airshow or contest season without the downtime of having a parachute repacked" why not just have two chutes so that there's no downtime.

on May 29, 2007 08:33 PM
# Bob Plankers said:

NonairplaneY!: thousands of dollars, more or less depending on the type and what you want to do with them.

Jeremy: how much training in parachuting do glider and light aircraft pilots need to get? Does it include any jumps?

on May 29, 2007 09:57 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

A good parachute for what I do is about $1,500 - $1,700 new. Of course, you can get a used one for less than that.

on May 29, 2007 10:37 PM
# dianne black-nixon said:

What is the latest on the proposal for 180 day chute repack?
I know comments closed last year. Have you heard anything?

on May 6, 2008 11:28 AM
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