CIVL Paragliding Competitions Safety Task Force: First report

Comp Class comeback: Report clears ‘dangerous paragliders’ and focuses on pilot education

Download CIVL’s Safety Task Force report (pdf)

2011 Paragliding World Championships Task 1 - Photo- Martin Scheel

2011 Paragliding World Championships Task 1 - Photo- Martin Scheel

CIVL’s safety ‘task force’ has recommended that the temporary ban on Competition Class paragliders should be lifted as soon as possible.

The recommendation is one of several at the heart of a report published on 8 December that was put together following the Paragliding World Championships in Spain in July. There, two pilots died and several more had serious incidents.

As well as recommending “some form” of Competition Class gliders be reinstated, the report focuses heavily on the important role continued education, training and experience plays in flying Competition Class glider.

It avoids blaming the gliders for the deaths at the World Championships and instead says the “primary causes” of the nine incidents included excessive speed (four cases) and pilot error (two cases).

Only in one case was the behaviour of the wing found to be the main cause of an incident. The other two incidents were caused by turbulence in goal and scratching low in partial lee, according to the report.

The report’s authors interviewed the pilots involved plus members of the World Championships organisation to reach their conclusions. They also reviewed pilot experience forms, which each competing pilot had to file at the competition.

Announcing the report, which is published on the newly-revamped FIA website, CIVL wrote:

“The Task Force has concluded that there were multiple factors contributing to the incidents, and that although the type of glider was deemed to be a factor in most of the incidents, it was not the sole cause of any of them.”

Other areas covered in the 30-page report include the structure of competitions, task setting and the design of wings.

The report takes note of recent developments – notably Alain Zoller’s accident testing a competition wing, and the development of ‘comp class’ EN D wings.

As a result, CIVL said: “It has been difficult for the Task Force to come up with a definitive set of short term recommendations, as the situation is likely to change.

“However, the Task Force firmly believes that the re-introduction as soon as possible, of some form of competition class for paragliders should be considered.”

The full report is online here.

In a coordinated development, CIVL also announced that they would be cooperating more closely with the Paragliding World Cup Association.

Signed by CIVL’s Agust Gudmundsson and the PWCA’s Goran Dimiskovski the statement read: “The two organisations have agreed on a continuing programme of cooperation aimed at creating a worldwide synchronised paragliding competition system.”

Coordinating calendars and databases are two areas where the two bodies see potential gains.

As part of that change however, the World Paragliding Championships may well see a radical shake up. CIVL reports that the idea of a separate World Championships for both nations and individuals is being considered – although 2015 would be the soonest such a move could take place.

CIVL said: “It may be necessary to split the FAI World Paragliding Championships into separate individual and team competitions. Both parties see 2015 as the earliest possible target date for this new format FAI World Championship for paragliding.”

Bids for the 2015 World Championships will be made in 2013.

The Paragliding Competitions Safety Task Force report and its recommendations, along with other proposals, will be discussed at CIVL’s annual meeting early next year.

Held each year the CIVL Plenary brings together all its international delegates to discuss and vote on the issues of the day. This year the plenary is being held in Taiwan 16-19 February.

An in-depth exploration of the Task Force report and what it means for the sport as a whole will feature in the Jan/Feb issue of Cross Country magazine.

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