PENNSYLVANIA PARACHUTE COMPANY
P.O. Box 240
Mt. Bethel, PA 18343
Parachute Service Life
There is an urban legend out there that states that a parachute has a service life of 20 years. THERE IS NO BASIS IN FACT FOR THIS. A parachute systemís airworthiness is affected by abuse caused by the owner and the number of jumps on the unit. Parachutes can typically handle hundreds of jumps .
Recently, the United States Parachute Association requested clarification on this matter from the FAA.
On August 21, 2012 the FAA replied. The FAA stated that any parachute certified under standards TSO- C23b, TSO C-23c and TSO C-23d did not have a maximum service life. Continued service life of any given parachute unit is to be established by a certificated parachute rigger at the time of inspection and repack of the parachute. No pilot emergency parachutes currently available, have a maximum service life under these criteria. Military parachutes fall under TSO C23b.
If a parachute manufacture wants to establish a maximum service life after receiving their TSO under the above series of TSOís they must submit their request, with corresponding supporting data, to the FAA for review and request that an Airworthiness Directive be issued by the FAA for that model. This has not happened. A simple recommendation of service life added by the manufacturer to their manual after their TSO has been issued has been deemed by the FAA as a non-regulatory requirement. Continued service life for any given parachute assembly then, is to be determined by the certificated parachute rigger upon inspection of the parachute in question.
If a service life is to be assigned to a model parachute it has to be included as part of the initial TSO process for that model with corresponding data to support that request unless a subsequent AD is issued.
Any parachute rigger that simply refuses to recertify your parachute simply because of its age is doing you a disservice. Find another parachute rigger.