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Parachute rigger: Wikis

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A parachute rigger is a person who is trained or licenced to pack, maintain or repair parachutes. A rigger is required to understand fabrics, hardware, webbing, regulations, sewing, packing, and other aspects related to the building, packing, repair, and maintenance of parachutes.

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Military parachute riggers

Militaries around the world train their own parachute riggers to support their airborne or paratrooper forces. These military riggers also pack parachutes for aerial delivery operations, through which military supplies and equipment are delivered by aircraft to combat zones.

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Australian Defence Force

Parachute riggers in the Australian Army are responsible for the preparation, maintenance and supply of parachutes and other aerial delivery components.

Prior to commencing the parachute rigger course, all trainees must be static-line parachute qualified. Parachute riggers frequently make parachute jumps, and at any time may be required to jump with any parachute they have packed. This is to help them better understand how the equipment they prepare and maintain works, and to help ensure that each parachute is professionally packed to a safe standard.

Canadian Forces

Riggers in the Canadian Forces train at the Canadian Forces Land Advanced Warfare Centre at CFB Trenton in Trenton, Ontario.

U.S. Military

The U.S. Army Parachute Rigger's Badge

Riggers have played an important role in the American military since the advent of the use of the parachute for aerial insertion of troops, supplies, and equipment into combat zones. In addition to the maroon beret worn by paratroopers in airborne units, riggers are authorized the wear of a distinctive red baseball cap as their military headgear when on rigger duties.

U.S. Army. When the Army formed its first paratrooper unit in 1940, a parachute test platoon, the paratroopers themselves prepared and took care of their own parachutes. The test platoon had only 3 men, two enlisted soldiers and one warrant officer, from the Army Air Corps serving as the precursors of the Army's parachute riggers.

When the Army created five Airborne divisions for World War II, the Army stopped training each paratrooper how to pack his own chute and started support organizations for parachute packing and rigging. The first riggers received their training at Fort Benning, GA.

After 1950, the Army assigned the Quartermaster Corps with the mission of aerial delivery, including parachute rigging. A parachute rigger course was established at the U.S. Army Quartermaster School at Fort Lee, VA in 1951, and has continued since then.

Army Parachute Rigger recruits start their training at Airborne Orientation Course (AOC)[1], a course designed to prepare 92R0 recruits for success at Airborne School. AOC was, in the past at Fort Lee, VA, but is now at Fort Jackson, SC. The Airborne Orientation Course is designed to give riggers some preparation for the physical and mental trials of Airborne school, in particular the large amount of running required all Airborne students, as all US Army Parachute Riggers must be airborne qualified. From AOC, rigger recruits go to Airborne School at Fort Benning, GA. If a rigger recruit does not pass Airborne School, that soldier is reclassified. After Airborne School, the 92R0P recruits head to Fort Lee to attend the 13 week Parachute Rigger Course. The course is divided into three parts: Personnel Pack(pack), Aerial Delivery(AD), and Air Equipment Repair(AER). During their time at Fort Lee the Future Riggers must complete a parachute jump using a chute that they themselves have packed.

Service members from other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces also attend parachute rigger courses at Fort Lee.

U.S. Air Force. United States Air Force parachute riggers are trained at Sheppard AFB, Texas. The career field is classified under, "Aircrew Flight Equipment" (AFSC 1P0X1). Airmen attend a 3 1/2 month course learning to inspect, pack, and repair emergency parachutes. Once graduated from this technical school, students are assigned to a duty location where they are further instructed using on the job training.[2]

In mid-2009, the Air Force's 98th Virtual Uniform Board announced "Airmen earning and awarded the Army Parachute Riggers badge are authorized permanent wear on all uniform combinations. For the airman battle uniform and the battle dress uniform, the badge will be blue. On the desert combat uniform the approved color is brown."[3] Previous guidance had limited the wear of the badge to airmen attached to Army rigger units.

Aircrew Survival Equipmentmen whip and fold gores of a parachute during a 224-day inspection in the paraloft aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. Parachute materials school was first established in 1924 at Lakehurst, NJ by two Navy Chiefs, Samuel Young and Randolf Myler. Parachute Rigger, or "PR", became an enlisted job rating in 1942, but the name changed during the 1960s to Aircrew Survival Equipmentman. The United States Navy parachute riggers are now trained at Naval Air Station Pensacola during a 12 week (55 training day) school. When they graduate, they do become PRs, but the rating is called Aircrew Survival Equipmentman. While in school they go through 9 courses, 3 courses of "Common Core" skills over 19 days, 3 courses of Organizational-Level skills for 17 days, and finishing with 3 courses of Intermediate-Level skills for 19 days. The first week is sewing, dubbed by students and instructors alike as "Combat Sewing". Students will manufacture a "rigger bag" completely from scratch and will learn about tool control and FOD management. The next course is NB-8 parachutes, where students will learn basics of parachute rigging, inspection cycles and nomenclature. This is followed by a course of general survival equipement named ESE. Then "O" strand begins with Survival I Fixed Wing, followed by Survival II Rotory Wing, where students learn inspection and maintenance concepts unique to squadron level work. The final "O" level subject is Survival Radios. "I" strand will start with NES-12s, the Navy's most complicated parachute system, for advanced rigging concepts. Seat Survival Kits and Life Preservers finish out the entire course of instruction, where they will graduate upon completion. Classes average to about one week per class.

During the entire time of study students will undergo physical training at least three times a week, be subjected to rigorous inspections every Monday, and will march to and from the building, being accountable for showing up on time, cleanliness, and homework.

Civilian parachute riggers

Riggers who work on the parachutes of sport parachutists are usually certified by the local aviation authorities, a local aviation association, or a parachuting association. The licensing system varies from country to country, but usually there are several levels of licenses, the higher licenses giving the rigger more privileges in the field.

United States

In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licenses the riggers. The FAA issues two levels of civilian parachute rigger ratings: senior and master. Entry-level riggers start by apprenticing under another licensed rigger, then test for the Senior Rigger rating. The Senior Rigger test involves three parts: written, oral and practical. The written test is usually done at a computerized learning center and results are available immediately. The oral and practical exams include questions about common rigging practices. The practical test consists of inspecting and repacking 20 reserves, along with hand sewing and a simple machine-sewn patch on a canopy. Candidates have the option of testing on back, chest, seat or lap type parachutes. The FAA does not distinguish between round and (modern) square parachutes. After three years experience - including packing at least 200 reserves, Senior Riggers can test for the Master Rigger rating which allows them to do most major repairs. There is no written test for Master Riggers, but the oral exam is far more extensive, including identifying dozens of material samples. The Master practical exam starts with assembling and adjusting a sewing machine, then doing a major canopy repair that includes a seam, reinforcing tape and line attachment. Master candidates are usually asked to demonstrate a harness repair also. FAA riggers are tested by Parachute Rigger Examiners (government employees) or Designated Parachute Rigger Examiners (independent civilians, usually highly-experienced Master Riggers). US military riggers only need a letter from their commanding officer and the written test to earn FAA rigger ratings.

Australia

In Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has authorized the Australian Parachute Federation(APF) to license the riggers.

Canada

In Canada, parachute rigger ratings are issued by the Canadian Sport Parachuting Association's Technical Committee. CSPA issues two levels of rigger ratings: A and B. Entry level includes packing ten reserves under supervision then attending a one-week course given by a CSPA Rigger Instructor. Canadian Rigger As are limited to assembling and packing parachutes. They can replace components and do simple hand-sewing, but are not trained to use sewing machines. At the end of the Rigger A Course candidates can choose to be tested on round or square parachutes and they can chose which type of container for their practical test (one-pin sport, two-pin sport, Pop-Top or chest). Certification for packing Pilot Emergency Parachutes (PEP) can be obtained only after passing practical tests on all other types. Two more years of experience, including learning sewing machine operation, is needed before riggers can challenge for Rigger B ratings. The SOLO program includes sewing a bag of samples and submitting them to CSPA's Technical Committee. CSPA Rigger Bs enjoy the same privileges as American Master Riggers and are allowed to do most major repairs that can be done outside of a factory.

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