Its all about the Glider $afety

Ok here comes the first instalment seeing that its raining cats and dogs here at the moment,
Lets begin by saying that I understand how some of these gliders obtain the en-B certification, should some of them really be there is a completely different question. EN certifications mainly deal with how the gliders react to various collapses how fast they turn, dive, fall etc and of course how fast they reopen and regain a normal flight characteristic. Now this is all well and good if thats the only things that you as a pilot would care about, but is it and should it be?
Something that I haven’t really heard much about in the discussions about EN ratings is why are they not rating gliders not only on how they react to and after the collapse, but how often and how easily they enter these types of situations in the first place? (I know it would be almost impossible to replicate air conditions for testing purposes etc) but why are we not including “real air” testing to the certification process? Whats the gliders reaction to collapses in real life turbulence and thermals, considering that these are the places most people will have issues. I don’t know many people that have a 70% collapse into a twist while flying in calm air over a lake…
As an example and not picking on Gin I felt more comfortable on the Boom Xalps then under the Carrera, en-D vs en-B. why? well the Carrera in certain conditions becomes a little bit more unpredictable in what collapse it will get and when, not to mention how it will recover.
Testing houses and producers won’t sub classify B’s any further as
  • This will cut down the number of potential clients and increase the testing costs even more.
  • Cause an even larger amount of confusion about the gliders in the EN rating and where they actually belong. Look at the issues we are having at the moment with 4 EN groups imagine if we have 8.
Nylon rods, these are the future of the sport and 2011 model open class 2 liners were proof, with some gliders having rods going from nose to 30cms from the trailing edge. Enabling us to fly faster and more efficiently than ever and having a rigid wing that was “relatively” collapse resistant. The main issue with using rods in A-B and even C gliders is the over use of them. Manufacturers that are putting in the rods for +1/3 of the profile are creating wings that people find really solid to fly, till they get a collapse at speed, the collapse is different to a glider without batons. (without batons, gentler, slower and less dynamic collapse with a more predictable slightly less energetic reopening. while with batons its a more aggressive process with pretty much each stage having more speed and energy.)
At the end of the day;
people need to wake up and realise that there are certain dealers and schools out there that will push you into anything that they can, promising the world, the Carrera in the right hands has huge potential but more and more low airtime pilots are getting hot “B”s and finding that they can’t handle them. Most low airtime pilots are having trouble flying them in normal conditions not to mention when it gets interesting, I met one guy from the UK in Nepal that bought one and threw his rescue the first day during SIV (not even doing the “real” part of the SIV). When we got to talking he said that when he gets home it will be ok as he’s flying dynamic most of the time, Well if thats the case just get an r11, they are super solid and great for coastal flying with awesome speed and glide ratio…
A few points:
  • People need to stop blaming the producers for making gliders that fit within the guidelines and conform to EN standards.
  • People need to stop blaming the testing houses for giving a glider a certain EN rating when it conforms to it.
  • People need to stop blaming dealers/schools for selling a glider to someone.. (I don’t see you blaming a car dealer for selling a more expensive or faster car to a person that just got their licence, do you? at least until they have an accident and kill someone thats when people will search for someone to blame)
  • People need to realise that it is all just another business, and its all about the money….. I mean $afety. There are only a limited amount of people out there that will give you educated, correct, honest, unbiassed and safe advice on what you should or shouldn’t be flying.
  • People need to realise that its not a D*&^ measuring contest and that not only their life will be affected by their choices but their family and friends not to mention the people that have to come and get you off the side of a cliff if it goes bad.
  • People need to realise its not only the glider that is important but want is hanging 7 meters below.
unfortunately the trend since the ban on open class after the worlds in 2011 has shown that the standards have changed across the entire EN rating system with greater tolerances being permitted/accepted lets hope with the up coming CCC in 2015 we will see changes through out the ranges, I doubt it but lets hope.

5 comments on “Its all about the Glider $afety

  1. Hi Stan, You do not mention that Gin said the Carrera was intended as a C, and never supposed to be a B.
    I think that we need a rating system that assesses how gliders fly, not about how they recover. Thermic Mag has started to do this I think already, with a departure from the EN system.

    1. That’s why I don’t place blame on Gin for the EN rating they received, but people need to be more aware of what they are buying and what they should be flying.

  2. A good article and nicely written, thank you. However, it seems we’re now stuck with not knowing how to compare gliders. This is especially important for the novice & low-airtime pilots to assess which wing he/she should buy. Manufacturers seem to be getting better at saying “this is a high-end En/B” but nowhere have I seen a comprehensive guide comparing wings from all the different manufactures. We know not to trust the EN rating fully but what’s the alternative? Speaking to club coaches is OK – but few people have a good level of experience flying the different wings currently being sold.

  3. In the certification process, one never talk about launching.
    For the good reason that it is done under little or no wind. Be it A, B, C, D or else class
    Easy testing then. All gliders behave well under calm conditions.

    In the real world things are way different during launching.
    Two gliders in the same category might behave very differently.
    One can be a dream, the other one a nightmare.
    Some manufacturers much prefer to optimise flying characteristics.
    It is much more rewarding marketing wise.

    It is after the purchase of your beloved new glider that you are going to discover that it might be tricky to inflate it without being satellised.
    Your friends (are they?) will tell you to go back to the training slope.
    You will learn all sorts of exotic figures. Cobra, only 2 A’s, running fast towards your glider, and many more.
    None will be 100% efficient and you will still once in a while end up on your back during launching.
    And worst of all you will dread to take off in a “sustained” wind.

    Certification should be much clearer regarding launching at various wind speeds.
    If a glider shoots. It should be clearly told.
    Not just “launching is usually an easy formality”!…
    Actual certification is much too complacent regarding this important part of the flight safety wise, pleasure wise and common sense wise.

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