Parachute Rigger "Nature of the Work"

Nature of Work

Civilian parachute riggers work for parachute rigging and supply companies, survival equipment manufacturing firms, and some government agencies. They perform duties similar to military parachute riggers.

The growth of parachuting over the last 20 years has increased the need for skilled riggers. The introduction of the ram-air canopy gave the sport a parachute that is highly maneuverable and capable of gentle landings. This advancement of parachute technology opened the sport to many persons who would not have considered it a few years ago. As a result of the rapid expansion of parachute technology, today's riggers are faced with an ever-expanding variety of equipment, materials, and rigging requirements. The complexity of the ram-air canopy requires different packing and repair methods. Today's riggers must possess a high degree of knowledge and skill.

Federal Certification

Civilian parachute riggers must be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) Part 65.117 regulates parachute riggers, their requirements, privileges, and performance standards.

Certificates and Ratings - There are two parachute rigger certificates-- senior parachute rigger and master parachute rigger; and four types of ratings: (1) seat, (2) back, (3) chest, and (4) lap. Each senior parachute rigger applicant must meet the requirements for at least one rating, and each master parachute rigger applicant must meet the requirements for at least two ratings. Parachute riggers may exercise their privileges only on parachutes for which they are rated. Parachute rigger certificate eligibility requirements vary with the type of certificate sought (senior or master) and the applicant's background (military or civilian).

Experience Requirements - Senior parachute rigger certificate requires the applicant to have packed at least 20 parachutes of each type for which a rating is sought. The parachute must have been packed in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and under the supervision of a credentialed parachute rigger who holds a rating for that type or by a person holding an appropriate military rating.

Applicants for a master parachute rigger certificate must have had at least three years of experience as a parachute rigger and have satisfactorily packed at least 100 parachutes of each of two types in common use, in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

Knowledge and Skill Requirements - Senior parachute rigger applicants are required to take a written test and an oral and practical test after passing the written test. Military parachute riggers, former military parachute riggers, and civilian employees of a regular armed force may take a special written test on the regulations of FAR Part 65, Subpart F. Military parachute riggers applying for the senior parachute rigger certificate are not required to take the oral or practical test. Evidence to establish your eligibility under this special certification rule (FAR Section 65.117) may be submitted in the form of letters, official records, or other documents, within 12 months after discharge.

Master parachute rigger applicants are required to take a written test unless they hold a senior parachute rigger certificate. They are also required to take an oral and practical test, which may be taken after showing they meet the other requirements.

Certificate Privileges - A certificated senior parachute rigger may pack or maintain (except for major repairs and alterations) any type of parachute for which he/she is rated. He/she may also supervise other persons in packing any type of parachute for which he/she is rated.

A certificated master parachute rigger may pack, maintain, or alter any type of parachute for which he/she is rated. Additionally, he/she may supervise other persons in packing, maintaining, or altering any type of parachute for which he/she is rated.

How to Apply - If you are planning to take the parachute rigger knowledge test for the first time, the process follows three steps: determining your eligibility, completing the registration, and taking the written tests.

  1. Obtain permission to test - Contact the nearest Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) or for an appointment to have your experience evaluated. A FAA inspector will determine if you are eligible to take the tests. When you visit the FSDO, you will be asked to fill out a FAA Form 8610-2, Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application, and to show documentation of your experience.

Bring the following items to the FSDO:

  • Records and any other evidence you have to substantiate your experience. Letters from present or former employers, military service records, business records, or log books are acceptable as long as the inspector can determine that the type and amount of experience meets the regulatory requirements. The evidence of packing experience must contain the following information:
  • Name of the person who did the packing;
  • Type and number of parachutes packed;
  • Packing dates; and
  • A statement that the parachutes were packed under the supervision of a certificated and appropriately rated parachute rigger or a person holding an appropriate military rating, including the name, certificate number, and ratings of the person who supervised the packing.
  • Permanent mailing address and positive proof of identification, including your current photograph, signature, and actual residential address, if different from the mailing address. Always check with your local FSDO or IFO if you are unsure of what kind of authorization to bring to the office.

Once your eligibility has been established, you will be given FAA Form 8610-2 properly completed and signed by the interviewing Airworthiness Safety Inspector (ASI). You must present this form at the testing center.

  1. Registration - The FAA has hundreds of computer testing centers available nationwide. These testing centers offer the full range of airman knowledge tests including parachute rigger. Visit the FedWorld Web site for a list of test sites. Either call the central registration toll-free numbers or simply walk-in. If you use the 1-800 number to register, you will need to select a testing center, schedule a test date, and make financial arrangements for test payment. At the test site you will again be asked to provide proper identification and the completed FAA Form 8610-2.

  2. The Written Tests - There are three knowledge tests:
    • Parachute Rigger - Senior (RIG)
    • Parachute Rigger - Master (RMP)
    • Parachute Rigger - Military Competence (RMC)

One hour is allowed for taking the Military Competence written test, which must be administered by a FAA airworthiness inspector. The test consists of 25 objective, multiple-choice questions. Two hours are allowed for the Senior or the Master Parachute Rigger written test consisting of 50 multiple-choice questions. When you complete the test, you will receive your Airman Test Report with the testing center's embossed seal, which reflects your score.

Information on Certification

For questions concerning your eligibility and/or qualifications, call the nearest FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). See the FAA's FSDO Locator Home Page for a location near you. or call the Parachute Shop.