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Paraglider & Motor Certification

Sept 5, 2007 | Paraglider Wing Reviews | Paramotor Reviews

We recommend that new pilots fly only certified gliders since otherwise they are being test pilots, to some degree. Even though the motor may change a wing's handling, and certification is not done with a motor, it's still helpful to know how a glider behaves without the motor. That is a valuable starting point.

Since the Powered Paragliding Bible came out, the EN (aka CEN) certification standard has gained more recognition although the German DHV is still widely used. Here is a comparison of the different bodies. We will probably start seeing more gliders getting certified using the EN A-D lettering system.

Paragliders have been tested for years by several organizations to help insure they are reasonably safe for the intended skill level. Even though most testing is done without a motor, it's beneficial to have an idea how your prospective wing will behave when things go awry. It's a valuable starting point.

Our sport and its gear are unregulated in the U.S. and most other countries. Germany, however, requires licensing and certification of both wings and paramotors. No surprise then that the only two organizations certifying motors and wings for powered use are in Germany: DULV and DMSV. We can only hope that motor testing evolves to include safety standards as listed on A Better Paramotor.

Changes are occurring in the testing realm as the organizations sort out what they feel are the most appropriate tests. In the past, DULV has generally accepted DHV testing then simply flown the wing with a motor to insure it had no dark corners under power. It's possible for a wing to be fine for free flight but unsuitable when powered. That's rare, to be sure, but its nice to have it tested.

Most paragliders have one of the certifications listed below and no specific motor credentials. In my experience, about one in 20 wings will have a roll oscillation with certain motors. There's no predicting which ones and it's easily controlled. Of the ones that have had it, none have been divergent (continuously getting worse). A wing may do it on one motor but not another and vice versa. Wings that are excessively slow or prone to parachutal stall should be avoided with power.

Reflex gliders struggle with certification because the current testing methods consider recovery from maladies (such as collapses) rather than resistance. Reflex gliders strive to resist collapses but when they do happen, recovery can be very dynamic�it's a trade off. Current certification standards don't recognize this trade.

Certification Comparison
 

Organization Rating Values Differences
DHV - German 1, 1-2, 2, 2-3, 3 For collapses and other maneuvers, rates based more on recovery than entry resistance. Test pilot makes the ratings.
EN (CEN) - European A, B, C, D Combination of entry resistance and ease of recovery.
SHV - Swiss
& AFNOR
Standard, Performance, Competition  
DULV Standard, Advanced, Competition Concentrates on testing with a motor in those areas more likely to cause problems under power.
DMSV Standard, Performance, Competition  

 

Certification Rating Equivalents

 

DHV AFNOR CEN Description
1 Standard A Most benign handling, quickest to recover from deflations, spins and other maladies with no pilot input.
1-2 Standard B Fairly benign handling, quick to recover from deflations, spins and other maladies with minimal pilot input.
2 Performance C More demanding characteristics and stronger reactions to turbulence, deflations and other maladies. Not as forgiving.
2-3 Performance C More demanding characteristics and stronger reactions to turbulence, deflations and other maladies. For highly skilled pilots.
3 Competition D Most demanding characteristics. Requires advanced handling in deflations and other maladies. For highly skilled and risk-tolerant pilots.

 

Current Certifying Bodies

Germany has so many orgs for certification because certification is required of their equipment.

DULV - German powered aviation certification body. Somewhat less stringent requirements but testing is done mostly with a motor.

DMSV - German Paramotoring Association. Testing is done with mostly with a motor.

DHV - German hang gliding and paragliding aviation certification body. The sport is more regulated in Germany than probably any other country and these certifications are required. They emphasize recovery behaviors.

EN (CEN) - European standards body. Their website lists a 4-tiered naming convention, A through D, where A and B are like DHV 1 and DHV 1-2. C is like DHV 2 and D is like DHV 3. It was CEN when the committee was forming the standards, now it's officially just EN.

SHV (FSVL) Swiss Hang Gliding and Paragliding Organization. Adopted AFNOR standards

Related Organizations

EHPU European Hang Gliding and Paragliding Union.

Former Certifying Bodies

A.F.NOR - (was APCUL until 1994) French certification organization. Paragliders have 3 tiers: standard (similar to DHV 1), performance (similar to DHV 2) and competition (similar to DHV 3). These were pass/fail tests rather than the numbered results used by the DHV.

FFVL French Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association. Only a very few paragliders were certified under this organization and I've never seen one.

ACPUL became A.F.NOR in 1994.

DHV classification of paragliders

courtesy www.DHV.de

The classification scheme gives a scale for the level of pilot skills required for safe operation.

The classification is obtained through test flights as part of the DHV/OeAeC type test procedure. These tests are meant to provide safety relevant information, but certainly not to measure performance.

The overall classification of a glider is found by taking the highest (e.g. most demanding) classification obtained in any single test flight category.

The classification of a paraglider may contain a suffix denoting the restriction to a certain class of harnesses to be used with this glider.

Classification

Addition  

Description

 1

 

Paragliders with simple and very forgiving flying characteristics.

 1-2

 

Paragliders with good-natured flying characteristics.

 2

 

Paragliders with demanding flying characteristics and potentially dynamic reactions to turbulence and pilot errors. Recommended for regularly flying pilots.

 2-3

 

Paragliders with very demanding flying characteristics and potentially violent reactions to turbulence and pilot errors. Recommended for experienced and regularly flying pilots.

 3

 

Paragliders with very demanding flying characteristics and potentially very violent reactions to turbulence and pilot errors, little scope for pilot errors. For expert pilots.

 

 G

Only explicitly listed types of harnesses

 

 GH

"H"-braced harnesses - any group GH harness may be used with that glider (=almost all modern DHV/OeAeC-certified harnesses)

 

 GX

Cross-braced harnesses - any group GX harness may be used with that glider

 

 Biplace

Certified for biplace operation

 

 Y

Hang type harness (for historic reasons)

 

 S

Special harness

The performance of today's class 1 and 1-2 gliders is pretty close to the performance of more demanding gliders. As their good-natured flight characteristics give a high level of active and passive safety, they are recommended to anybody who doesn't fly regularly or whose motivation to fly is fun rather than ambition.

On the other hand class 2 gliders, which were formerly used in training, due to their higher speed-potential today require an actively flying pilot who knows how to recover from abnormal flight situations.

Experienced pilots of course will like their handling characteristics and their high rate of active safety, which is combined with a level of performance equaling that of high performance competition wings just a couple of years ago.

When viewing test reports you should bear in mind that test flights are flown and evaluated in a well-standardized manner, as this is the only way to achieve reproducible test results. This gives you an objective scale to compare gliders, but any statement concerning in-flight characteristics applies in absolute precision only to maneuvers flown in a standardized manner under perfect test conditions.

Any safety relevant observations of the test pilot which are not covered by the standardized test flight evaluation are quoted under "Additional flight safety remarks" at the end of the test report

 

courtesy www.dhv.de

EN classification of paragliders

courtesy European Union

 

# Flight Characteristics Pilot Skills Required
A Paragliders with maximum passive safety and extremely forgiving flying characteristics. Gliders with good resistance to departures from normal flight. Designed for all pilots including pilots under all levels of training.
B Paragliders with good passive safety and forgiving flying characteristics. Gliders with some resistance to departures from normal flight. Designed for all pilots including pilots under all levels of training.
C Paragliders with moderate passive safety and with potentially dynamic reactions to turbulence and pilot errors. Recovery to normal flight may require precise pilot input. Designed for pilots familiar with recovery techniques, who fly �actively� and regularly, and understand the implications of flying a glider with reduced passive safety.
D Paragliders with demanding flying characteristics and potentially violent reactions to turbulence and pilot errors. Recovery to normal flight requires precise pilot input. Designed for pilots well practiced in recovery techniques, who fly very actively, have significant experience of flying in turbulent conditions, and who accept the implications of flying such a wing.

 

See the En926 summary. It includes all the flight tests and what the letters mean for each one.

Download En926 here.

DULV

Entered by Footflyer through correspondence with Swing gliders.

 

#/Value Flight Characteristics Pilot Skills Required
Standard Benign. Designed for all pilots including new pilots or those who fly infrequently.
Advanced Requires more advanced piloting but still recovers predictably from maneuvers. Designed for pilots with at least moderate skill and understanding of flight behavior.

 

DMSV

Awaiting more information from this new German Paramotoring Association.

 

#/Value Flight Characteristics Pilot Skills Required
     
     
     

 

   

Remember, If there's air there, it should be flown in!