Defining a new paraglider Competition Class


CIVL took the opportunity of the FAI European Paragliding Championships in Saint- André-les-Alpes, France, to convene a meeting on September 15th between CIVL, the Paraglider Manufacturers’ Association (PMA) and the European Hang gliding and Paragliding Union (EHPU) representatives. The primary topic on the agenda was to discuss possible solutions to the competition paraglider situation. Unfortunately, PMA was not ready to attend the meeting. CIVL suggested to meet PMA during its General Assembly in Saint-Hilaire-du-Touvet, France, during the Coupe Icare on September 20th. This report concerns both meetings.

In Saint-André, CIVL and EHPU agreed that the introduction of high-level competition paragliders in the EN certification scheme has distorted and devalued the system, which was originally intended to give leisure pilots an indication of the skills required to handle these certified paragliders. It was not intended for competition paragliders. Both parties agreed that solutions to re-introduce a paraglider Competition Class had to be found outside the current EN. However, the parties stated differing views on what these solutions should be.

EHPU attendees to the meeting promised to finalize their position in writing to CIVL as soon as possible. We understood that EHPU would like CIVL to oversee the process of defining Competition Class paragliders, with a set of “technical requirements” that would be added to the current EN-D requirements. Only paragliders meeting both EN and CIVL requirements would be allowed in Category 1 competitions.

CIVL maintained the stance it took during the February 2012 Plenary. Category 1 events should be flown on current EN certified paragliders until a solution is found. A new Competition Class should be created outside current EN, whose technical requirement would be defined by PMA, approved by CIVL and hopefully supported by EHPU. This new Competition Class could possibly be included in a new “light” EN-X (light meaning less manoeuvres, hence cheaper test and faster revisions of EN-X). In parallel, with the help of PMA, the qualifications needed for competition pilots to be flying on the new Competition Class paragliders would be defined and included in a mandatory scheme.

CIVL also stressed that, in the current EN-D testing programme, gliders are flown in configurations that do not relate to competition flying, such as using regular rather than cocoon harnesses; and performing manoeuvres that are seldom encountered, while common real problematic situations are not tested. Hence, the current EN-D certification process does not seem entirely relevant for competition class gliders. CIVL believes that a radical review would be required, if EN-D was to be made mandatory for competition gliders.

In Saint-Hilaire, CIVL explained to PMA its views on paragliding competitions and hoped that PMA would agree to work on requirements for both competition paragliders and pilot qualifications. PMA underlined the difficulties to reach a consensus on these requirements, but in the end, agreed that it was the only sufficiently qualified organisation to come up with an acceptable solution.

CIVL is now waiting for PMA proposals. CIVL is likely to agree to drive the process required to review PMA’s proposals and ultimately, implement an appropriate solution within CIVL rules.


(Photo Martin Scheel)