Gear Wisdom: Pilot Chute

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Rigger Rezzan Shiel advises us on looking after our life-saving equipment. Every component can give us problems if we fail to renew or replace it when needed.

Author Rezzy, by Dave Head
The simple pilot chute has a vital job to do for you

On another part of gear knowledge and how to look after our gear, I thought we could talk about the pilot chute again. Last time we looked at when the kill line needs replacing, now let’s consider the whole pilot chute replacement.

  • How often do we replace them? 
  • Why should we replace them?

Think about it, this little part of our rig has a lot of work and has an important role. At the end of your skydive you throw your pilot chute and wait for the canopy to open. But let’s slow down and look at what this little pilot chute does. After throwing your pilot chute, it has to pull the pin out of the main closing loop first, then it pulls the D-bag out from the container to line stretch and then collapses. On top of this hard work, it gets no love when you land and is dropped on the ground, sometimes even dragged when we are walking back to the dropzone.

Pilot chutes wear out over time, it is not easy to notice and this is often neglected. But let’s have a look and see what you can check and decide if you need a new pilot chute or not.

  • Look at both bridle, bridle attachment points at the pilot chute and inside the D-bag. Is there any wear and tear?
  • Look at the bridle, check for wear and tear
  • Look at the hacky attachment; over time it may become very loose, stitching could come undone.
  • Look at the top and bottom side of the pilot chute for any holes, damage and fraying at the seams

Bridle/canopy attachment point

Never miss looking for wear at the bridle/canopy attachment point

Bridle/D-bag attachment point

This is the bridle attachment point to the D-bag, look for any wear and tear, both inside and outside the D-bag

Hacky attachment point

Inspect the hacky attachment for any frays and also check if it has become looser

What will using old pilot chute openings be like and what kind of malfunctions could you expect?

As the material of the pilot chute loses porosity, the drag of the pilot chute decreases. Your openings will start taking longer. You will start getting hesitations on openings. Your openings start being off heading and you may start getting twists. A bag-lock or pilot chute in tow could also be expected.

Worn Pilot Chute

There is no specified number of jumps to know how long the pilot chute will last, it could be anywhere from 200-500 jumps. Where you jump and how well you take care of your gear will make a big difference. You should inspect your pilot chute from time to time, to prevent you having poor openings and/or unnecessary malfunctions.

Words and photos by Rezzan Aral Shiel

Gear Wisdom Articles


All by Rezzan Aral Shiel, our lovely friendly rigger

  • Kill Line – when does it need replacing?
  • Pilot Chute – how to tell if it you need a new one

Coming Soon

  • What size should your pilot chute be?
  • 3-Rings – Maintenance
  • Steering Lines
  • New Line Set – is it time?
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Meet: Rezzan Aral Shiel

Rezzan Aral Shiel has been a professional packer and rigger for over 20 years. Her smiling face, impeccable organising skills, infectious laugh and calm personality make her a reassuring presence at major skydiving events worldwide. Rezzy packs brilliantly for all her athletes but is far more than a packer; she is a supportive, interested, empathic ally, who plays an important role in helping them achieve success. Rezzy rocks!

Owner/ President at Rezolutions LLC

Studied at Shaw Academy

Studied Life coaching at AVADO

Studied at Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi

Studied Technical drawing at 9 EYLUL UNIVERSITY (IZMIR-TURKEY)

Went to Karsiyaka Gazi Lisesi

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