In addition to the pre-flight, about the harness ...
Man has always dreamed of flying, and to evolve among the birds. Yes, but of course he is not destined to evolve in the air!
For centuries, however, he has sought every means to do so. And he has succeeded, with the help of various and varied aircraft, which today allow him to fly freely across the sky.
However, although access to this environment has become relatively simple today, it is not without risks.
As already mentioned in the article on forgetting to tie up in a paragliderAccidents happen every year as a result of errors just before take-off.
Lack of knowledge, lack of training, dizziness, unconsciousness, ... It is difficult to know precisely the reasons that give rise to these errors.
In any aeronautical activity (such as paragliding), there are pre-take-off procedures to establish whether all the conditions are in place to get into the air in the safest possible conditions. In the industry, this procedure is called "Pre-flight".
This article is not going to go back to the pre-flight done just before take-off, since it is one of the fundamentals taught in free flying schools, and every pilot must know for his own safety and that of others.
We will not mention either the existing hardware solutions, which you can find in the article devoted to forgetting to tie up in a paraglider.
Here we are going to discuss all the hot spots in a harness, which it is good to check regularly or after an incident. For example, you can take advantage of a waiting time at the landing to take the shuttle, a flight end where there is no hurry to return home, a rainy Sunday at home, ...
Here is a list of points to inspect, which you should adapt to your harness model and its particularities.
Some may seem obvious and unnecessary to you, but it may be that:
- You lent your harness
- You're trying a harness that isn't yours.
- You would get it back after repair/knowledge
- General condition of the harness
- Condition of the straps, Dyneema lines - Traces of wear, cuts, premature ageing (colour, appearance)
- Are my settings right? Maybe you lent your harness to a friend to give it a try?
- Is the throttle setting right? Too short a throttle setting can result in a constant acceleration of the glider from take-off.
- Status of the accelerator lines. Lines in poor condition can get stuck in the pulleys, and block the glider in accelerated position even if the lengths are sufficient.
- Is my reserve parachute installed?
- Is the handle well connected on top, and on the right hooking point (central/side: see manufacturer's recommendations)? A bad positioning of the handle can hinder the opening of the container, if the strap comes in tension before the extraction of the needles.
- Are the reserve risers properly connected to the parachute? How (live/with a maillon)? Live, the lark's head must be tight. If there is a maillon, check its condition and that it is well locked.
- Is the container securely locked in accordance with the harness manufacturer's instructions?
- Is the handle securely fixed in position in its housing? Beware of velcros, which can become difficult to undo over time. Do not hesitate to remove and replace them regularly.
- Is the rescue riser guide correctly mounted? Beware of velcros, which can become difficult to undo over time. Do not hesitate to remove and replace them regularly.
- Are the elevators in good condition? No traces of premature wear, intact sheath, ... ?
- Are the rescue risers properly attached to the harness? How (live/with a link)? Live, the lark's head must be tight. If there is a link, check its condition and that it is properly locked.
Back protection :
- What's the condition of my airbag fabric? Pay special attention to the reversible material, where you should also check the condition of the fabric on the bag part, because it is the same!
- Are the air intakes in good condition to scoop properly?
- Are all the zips closed and locked (pocket, ...)?
- What's the condition of my mousse-bag? State of the fabric, holes, tears, ... ?
- Are the foams well positioned in the harness?
- Are the foams in full shape? Stowage in the harness can compress the foams, preventing them from quickly regaining their shape. Avoid leaving the harness compressed for too long in the bag during a long period without flying.
Sail Connectors :
- Are the connectors adapted in shape and size to the harness straps?
- Are the connectors correctly positioned in the various harness straps? Buckles with red protective sheath at Kortel Design.
Automatic carabiners :
- Traces of wear and tear? Shocks, corrosion, dirt, ... ?
- Is the mechanism working well? Finger opening, locking, smooth movement, ... ?
- Condition of the links ? deformation, oxidation ?
- Does the ferrule work smoothly? Deformation of the link can cause the ferrule to become out of alignment and malfunction.
- Is the clamping of the ferrule correct and complete? According to the manufacturer's recommendation.
Flexible connectors :
- Traces of wear and tear? Fraying, condition of the protective sheath, burns?
- Is the assembly of the flexible connectors complete and correctly carried out? According to the manufacturer's recommendation.
Attachment system in the harness :
- Are the buckles in good condition?
- Do the loops close properly? In addition to the locking "click", it is interesting to test each loop individually by pulling on it to check if the locking is effective.
When I put on my harness:
- I check each loop closure individually.
It is essential to be able to take a little time on a regular basis to carry out these checks as calmly as possible. As for a pre-flight on take-off, it is important to avoid being disturbed (discussion, telephone, etc ...) to carry out this check methodically and serenely, in order not to forget or neglect anything.
Take care, and have a good flight!
Personally, after seeing a pilot die for forgetting to fasten his thigh straps, I choose harnesses where they are sewn, or I sew them: my way of radically eliminating this danger! There are enough others to deal with. On the lightweight harnesses I use this does not cause too much discomfort in the fitting, even on skis.
Tip for young pilots: make a final checklist as simple as possible, to make sure you don't forget it, with only vital points to check and go through it again just before the final wind and airspace check, before take-off. Repeat it if the take-off has to be delayed by a few minutes or for any other hitch.
My final checklist includes the following vital points:
I'm going from the inside out...
- What I'm hanging on to
- Thigh + lap straps (even if they are sewn because I don't want to lose the habit of checking them in case of occasional use of another harness)
- What hooks the harness to the sail and the rescue
- Rescue: checking the pins in their location.
- Condition of the links, mechanical verification of their closure.
- The A's upwards that are well up to the leading edge.
- Accelerator grip
- Brakes freely movable towards their respective pulleys
- Lines properly aligned, not hooked to the ground
During long periods without flying (this one is particularly long) many pilots have the habit of unfolding their glider to store it flat and dry. This is also what I do. But don't forget the harness! It will fit much better in a room than in the bag. I take advantage of this to vacuum the areas that store dust (the bottom of the cocoon, the seat plus, the feet).
At the moment, mine is often hung on a gantry (I'm busy doing tutos and I put my daughter in it, she loves it) I take the opportunity to check all the settings (the kr2 is quite long to adjust), I marked all the settings with a pen on the straps. It allows me to see when it slips and to quickly get back to the deco without the need of a gantry and being sure it's symmetrical.
I also look at the wear points like the accelerator halyard, or the neoprene where the "spreader bars" press.
And while I'm at it, I'm checking the integrity of the whole thing. Well, mine is going fast because it only has two flights!
Bending the rescue is also a good way to check that the harness/rescue connection has not moved, it is also a good way to check the integrity of the rescue risers and harness/lift linkage.