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LittleCloud decided a long time ago to no play the “certification game” (except for some exceptions).
I want to summarize it here simply, so that you can make your own idea about this.
It’s definitely not the easiest path I choose to sell wings but this is the one that I believe in!
I respect every point of view (and obviously I follow mine), but I’m not saying it’s the one to follow!
The certification process is list of procedures that defines the behavior/safety of a glider under some human actions and its structural resistance.
These procedures are defined according to an EN norm defining:
– 926-1 for the resistance tests.
– 926-2 for the flying tests.
Germans do not follow the EN requirement (even though they stand in the EU) and have their certification process (LFT), which has very similar base to the EN standard.
These procedures are carried out on new wings.
The Norm describes how to perform the specific maneuvers and what class is given by the reaction of the wing.
We are talking angles of pitch, angles of rotation, control movement distances, recovery to normal flight timing, with or without input, Etc…
The glider is marked with some tape to define the angles and the depth of these induced collapses. These angles are precisely defined according to the text, but not to the shape/planform or the airfoil or other technical characteristics of the glider.
The brake range is defined by searching for the stall point, which allows setting up of some marks on the brake line to perform some of the maneuvers (1/4-1/2-3/4). These marks are only linked to the point of stall, not with the handling characteristic of the wing.
The seats used for the tests have strictly defined hang point height and carabineer width distances.
In no case, the air temperature or the air pressure are taken into account for the tests!
This norm procedures are defined by a group of people, mainly manufacturer, test centers, experts.
The tests are performed by test centers and paid by the manufacturer.
The Angle of pitch and rotation measurements and timing are appreciated by the test pilots (not by sensors), filmed from below.
To make it possible to happen, obvioulsly the air mass characteristics are not taken into account (pressure, temperature, and humidity).
As a responsible manufacturer, we want to offer wings with maximum safety for the pilots. We are very careful to whom we dedicate each model; checking and intensively testing each wings reaction in varied real life conditions.
The improvements, made on understanding the mechanisms of the wings the last years, helped to design gliders with mellow reactions.
There is a huge gap between pilot induced maneuvers and real life situations.
The dynamics are very different, recovery in still air or in messy air able to make collapse your wing are a world apart, and pilot inputs are not taken into account in the EN evaluation!
Our new airfoil is giving some incredible results in real life in keeping pressure very high all along the collapse process. It’s almost impossible to produce an EN type front collapse with our new Kagoo2/The Spiruline.
The skin tensions/shaping is a major feature that provide outstanding results in reducing propagation and the magnitude of collapse, but makes the 45° angle required by the EN on the large asymmetric collapse very hard to achieve.
Does that make these wings more dangerous?
Experience/Tests show that it’s a real benefit for the pilot safety!
We would have to step away from our latest findings regarding collapse resistance and collapse mechanisms in order to be able to perform the EN tests according to its description.
This is why we made the choice to fly long term testing in a very wide range of flying conditions to know really how the wing will react. This is of course time consuming, sometimes tricky, but in our opinion, it’s the only way to really find out the true characteristics of our wings.
Time has demonstrated that our approach is as valuable as the “normal” way (EN). None of our product has shown some dangerous behavior. None of our products have been mis-targeted to the wrong pilot group because we define and aim our wings to the right public, with a very honest approach.
We believe that it’s not the induce maneuvers reactions that give the classification of a glider, but its capability/performance. A wing that helps compensate for the lack of skills to fly higher and farther is just pushing back the moment when trouble would happen. On top of that, thinking a glider will save pilots from the consequences of their poor decisions is a very dangerous approach to safety.
The actual very high accident rate increase is just highlighting these facts.
Most of the accidents happen on EN rated/certificated wings.
In the end, we have to bear in mind that the EN process is a very detailed and strict process on the paper, but more approximative in its realization (Air mass- evaluation of the reactions of the glider).
Let’s face it, it can be problematic in certain country to get an insurance to cover you.
Anyway, in most of the case, solutions always exist.
Bear in mind that Paragliding is considered as a high risk activity.
Therefore, with a certified glider or not, you won’t be covered in certain cases (Travel Insurance, Mortgage insurance…).