Becoming a packer or rigger

Interested in becoming a packer or rigger?

Looking for the BPA Forms for that you need?
This page provides a logical time line of becoming a packer to rigger with all the relevant BPA Form numbers

BPA Forms are available by entering the form number in the Search Forms box in the header to this page.

 

Essentially the process is:

  1. Main and 1a) Tandem Packing Certificate
  2. Advanced Packer
  3. Basic Rigger
  4. Registering as a rigger with Method 2
  5. Parachute Rigger
  6. Advanced Rigger
  7. Rigger Examiner

All the rules applicable to packers and riggers can be found in Section 6 Equipment, and Section 14 Rigging, of the BPA Operations Manual

A list of forms is also available: Form 238 List of all BPA Rigging-related documents

 

Before getting anywhere you need first to become a qualified packer

1) Main Parachute Packing

Holders of these certificates are qualified to assemble and pack specified parachutes and deployment devices into specific containers. These may be issued or endorsed by Parachute Riggers and/or Parachute Instructors (excluding CSBIs, TBIs or AFFBIs), provided those instructors have their own packing certificates endorsed for the equipment they are signing for.

Relevant Forms:

BPA Form 197 Guidelines for obtaining an Approved Packing Certificate

BPA Form 111 Approved Packing Certificate to be submitted to BPA for initial approval

 

1a) Tandem Packing

Although Tandems are added to a BPA packing certificate there is specific tandem paperwork to deal with equipment inspection:

Relevant Forms:

BPA Form 275 Guidelines for completion of Forms 112 & 112A

BPA Form 112A Tandem Inspection Record of Inspection (Green Book) NOT available as a download

BPA Form 112B Tandem Equipment Main Parachute Packing/Inspection Log & 100 Jump Equiupment Inspection (Blue Book) NOT available as a download

BPA Form 112C Tandem Equipment 100 Jump Inspection Requirements

BPA Form 112D Tandem Student Harness Airworthiness Inspection

BPA Form 112E Tandem Equip Repair Mod Replacement Log

BPA Form 281 Guidence notes for completion of Form 112B (Blue Book)

 

2) Advanced Packer (AP)

Advanced Packers are cleared to pack reserves, but not to repair equipment. Qualifications can be gained in Square, Round and Tandem reserves. To become an AP you must:

  • be a full BPA member
  • hold a BPA Approved Packing Certificate and have been a BPA member for at least 18 months
  • have found a Rigger to supervise you

Normally each qualification is undertaken as a two part course: an introductory phase and an examination phase. The examination phase is to be done once enough experience and practice has been gained. A Training Record and Application to become an AP must be made to the BPA and the Riggers' Committee for each qualification. A separate examination phase is required for each qualification; round AP(R), square AP(S) and tandem AP(T).

All reserve repacks must be recorded on Form 112, or 112A for Tandems, (carbon copy Record of Inspection book).

Advanced Packers are subject to an annual currency certification at the time of membership renewal. This certification will be displayed on the BPA membership card.

Relevant Forms:

BPA Form 169 AP(S) or AP(R) Advance Packer syllabus

BPA Form 198 AP(T) Tandem Reserve Course Syllabus

BPA Form 175 Reserve Packing Training Record (to be completed on course and copy to be submitted to the Riggers Committee)

BPA Form 208 Advanced Packers Application to be sent to BPA.

BPA Form 112 Record of Inspection Sheets for Reserves (not tandem or front mount). Available for purchase from BPA in self-copying book (NOT available as a download).

Reference:

BPA Safety Notices and Safety Information Bulletins

BPA Form 257 Guide for the manufacture of safety stows

BPA Form 215 BPA reserve sealing method

 

3) Basic Rigger (BR)

A BR qualification is gained through attending a week's course, where BPA Rigger Examiners will coach you on all aspects of sewing and rigging. You must:

  • be a full BPA Member
  • hold an Advanced Packer (S) qualification
  • have a written recommendation from the Supervisor Rigger who must be at least as PR who has held their rating for at least two years and has known the candidate for a minimum of six months.

A multitude of subjects will be covered in practical lessons where you get hands-on experience:

  • Sewing machine use and maintenance
  • Stitch patterns
  • Material recognition
  • Hardware recognition
  • Canopy design and construction
  • Container design and construction
  • Use of hand tools and gromet sets 
  • Equipment inspection reports
  • Canopy repair work (rounds and squares)
  • Line replacements (rounds and squares)
  • Manufacture of component parts
  • Container repair work

It is also worth noting that candidates may be required to demonstrate their ability to pack reserves.

 

Prior Preparation

You are expected to spend time before the course studying the subject, becoming especially familiar with sewing and sewing machines, and the contents of the riggers' bible, The Parachute Manual by Dan Poynter. A more modern source with valuable demostrations of repairs can be found in the FAA Parachute Rigger Handbook which can be downloaded from the FAA website.  At this early stage you should also start collecting rigging and packing manuals, many of which can now be downloaded.

All sewing machines are related, so previous use of even a small domestic machine would be useful, though a transition to some kind of industrial machine would eventually be required. Further training in the use of sewing machines is given in the basic rigger course to eliminate any bad habits.

Relevant Forms:

BPA Form 199 Basic Riggers Course Syllabus

BPA Form 316 Rigger Course Application/Recommendation

Reference:

Equipment for Instructors Manual

Rigger Training Manual (written by Pete Sizer)

BPA Form 237 Rigging Loft Minimum Criteria

Rigging Technical Manual which attempts to clear up misinterpreted rules and is a list of rulings not recorded elsewhere

BPA Form 194 Terms of Reference of Riggers' Sub-Committee and Rules of Procedure

 

Training Period
After gaining a basic rigger qualification, a training period follows during which you have your work supervised by a qualified rigger. A broad selection of work must be undertaken and the preparation for the final examination course includes the following:

  • Manufacture of hand deploy pilot chutes and bridles, sliders, static line deployment bags
  • Grommet replacement and installation
  • Line and velcro replacements
  • Repair of main canopies

 

4) Alternative to Basic Rigger Course

An alternative method to becoming a basic rigger is 'simply' by registration with the BPA (you must be an Advanced Packer). After such registration, the BR then logs 200 hours of supervised rigging work before attending the final examination course. This is no easy option - 200 hours of sewing is a vast amount of work. The 200 hours does not include packing - or correcting your mistakes!   The entire syllabus of Form 200 Parachute Rigger Course Syllabus should be covered during the training period.

Relevant Forms:

BPA Form 138 Basic Rigger Application for registering Method 2 Basic Riggers for training

 

5) Rigger Exam Course - Exam

After a training period of at least six months, it's time for the examination course lasting four days; this is the same for either method of becoming a basic rigger.

Each candidate must pass the written test before they can proceed with the rest of the examination and submit manufactured components selected from the Parachute Rigger Manufacturing Syllabus for inspection. Examination will also take place of canopy repair, container repair and line replacement.

The candidate will also manufacture components as requested from the Parachute Rigger Manufacturing Syllabus.

Parachute Rigger Manufacturing Syllabus includes the following items made to an approved design:

  • Pilot Chutes including pull-out and throwaway systems
  • Main deployment bags including static line systems
  • Static Lines
  • 3 ring riser
  • Steering toggles
  • Main bridles including kill line bridle systems
  • Main sliders
  • Cutaway pads
  • Safety stows (elastic closure loops for reserve freebags)

On passing the course, you become a rigger, approved for work on main parachute systems, though not on reserve canopies, containers or components or any harness work affecting the reserve.

Relevant Forms:

BPA Form 200 Parachute Rigger Course Syllabus

BPA Form 316 Rigger Course Application/Recommendation

 

6) Advanced Riggers

The only people who can work on harnesses, reserve canopies and reserve containers are Advanced Riggers. A rigger can upgrade to an advanced rigger after two years and a successful exam course.


Advanced Rigger Exam Course

  • Pass a written test
  • Submit previously manufactured advanced components for inspection - including a full rig and all component parts
  • Major canopy repairs - complicated patches and line replacements
  • Major container repairs
  • Present a written paper on an aspect of rigging
  • Manufacture advanced components - such as reserve free-bags
  • Present 10 new rigger questions for rigging courses
  • Give a talk on a subject from the basic rigger syllabus

 

The Last Chance
An Advanced Rigger is qualified to manufacture and repair the 'bottom line' items. That is those that, should they fail, have no back-up, such as reserves and harnesses.

Relevant Forms:

BPA Form 201 Advanced Rigger Course Syllabus

BPA Form 316 Rigger Course Application/Recommendation

 

7) Rigger Examiner (RE)

From this point there is still another rung to the riggers' career ladder; the Examiner rating, awarded to those advanced riggers who have further undertaken the RE Syllabus involving teaching and organising AP, PR, and BR courses.

Relevant Forms:

BPA Form 202 Rigger Examiner Course Syllabus

BPA Form 316 Rigger Course Application/Recommendation

 

Additional information and forms 

Ratings

Rigger ratings expire on the 31 March each year. To renew a rigger's rating the rigger must satisfy an Advanced Rigger, or a Rigger Examiner in the case of a RE rating renewal, that he/she is current in all aspects of rigging relevant to their status.

 

New Student Equipment or Modifications to Student Equipment

Any new equipment or modifications to student equipment must be cleared by the BPA Riggers Committee before use. The appropriate forms, and equipment if required must be added to the agenda as a main topic for discussion.

Relevant Forms:

BPA Form 258 Student Harness and Container System Initial Clearance 

BPA Form 209 Student Equipment Change Application - for detailing proposed changes to student equipment systems.

 

Tandem Equipment Modifications 

BPA Form 212 Approved Tandem Parachute Equipment Modifications  (List of BPA Approved Tandem system modifications) 

 

Miscellaneous forms

BPA Form 144A Minor Mods 1 & 2 Static Line strong point specification

BPA Form 114D Minor Modification 4

 

Where now?


If you're interested, speak to your local riggers and see what they recommend for you and your particular circumstances for what to do next on the road to becoming a rigger. Good luck!

 

Based on words by Andrew Hilton (2002 So you wanna be a rigger?, an Article in Skydive the Mag)

Updated 21 May 2019

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