The Pilot Chute has the role of deploying the Main or Reserve Canopy and the incorrect Pilot Chute can result in a hard deployment because it produces too much drag or might not deploy the Main Canopy if it is worn out. The Pilot Chute can become neglected because it is dragged over the Drop Zone so it is important to keep them in good condition.
Many thanks to Tom Hill for writing this article and for taking the pics.
Despite all Pilot Chutes having the same role, there are different types of Pilot Chute and Netting depending on the discipline.
28” Zero Porosity
The standard Pilot Chute used by Skydivers.
Used to produce more drag due to the larger surface area however they do not last as long as Zero Porosity Pilot Chutes. Sometimes used by Wingsuiters because of the lower speeds therefore requiring a larger Pilot Chute to generate the force required and reduce the risk of a Pilot Chute in Tow malfunction.
Low Drag Netting
The standard netting used on Pilot Chutes.
High Drag Netting
Used on Pilot Chutes where high drag is required, for example Wingsuiting or Canopy Formation where vertical deployment speeds are much lower.
The Bridle and Pin
The Bridle connects the Pilot Chute to the Main Deployment Bag and can be a standard piece of webbing, contain a kill line or shock cord to collapse the Pilot Chute. The shock cord option is rare amongst sport Skydivers. A collapsible Pilot Chute is required for higher performance canopies.
Tape Bridle (No Kill Line)
The Bridle which is found on student equipment and does not contain a Kill Line to collapse the Pilot Chute after deployment.
Kill Line Bridle
Also known as a Centre Kill Line, the most common bridle amongst sport Skydivers which uses a centre cord that is shorter than the Bridle to collapse the Main Pilot Chute after deployment. The Pilot Chute is cocked when packing to ensure the Pilot Chute functions correctly. A cocked Pilot Chute will show a different colour in the window, a gap in the Bridle. You can tell if the Kill Line is too short as it will be taught inside the Pilot Chute. A line that is the correct length will have some slack.
Figure 34: A cocked Main Pilot Chute showing green in the viewing window, hence the term Green in the window.
Shock Cord Kill Line
A Bridle that uses a bungee shock cord to collapse the Pilot Chute. Rarely seen on sports Skydiving equipment and must not be used with F-111 Pilot Chutes.
Usually 3 foot longer than a standard bridle, favoured by some Wingsuiters because it is more likely to clear the large burble created by the Wingsuit.
This replaces the curved metal pin and is favoured by some skydivers due to the long length. Therefore, the risk of a premature deployment as a result of pin movement is lower.
Figure 35: Lolon® cable replacing the metal Curved Main Closing Pin.
In the next blog article, we move on to the meaty subject of parachute. There’s a bewildering choice of options, manufacturers and sizes which we will look at under the microscope (or sewing machine!)