Parachute Service Life Limits

Parachute Service Life

There have been rumors out there for years that there is a 20 year service life on parachutes used by pilots, skydivers and military. These are parachutes certificated under the FAA’s TSO (Technical Standard Order) certification, which include TSO C23b, NAS 804, TSO C23c (Categories A, B & C), and TSO C23d. Folks -



The parachute system airworthiness you are using is not affected by the number of years, it is affected by the care you give it. Do you take it in regularly for service, do you keep it out of the sun, do you use a carry bag, and do you keep it clean & protected. This stuff makes the parachute unairworthy, not the age.

Recently the FAA was requested a clarification on parachute service life, (Letter from the FAA), and the FAA stated that any parachute under a certificated TSO does not have a maximum service life. Ongoing service life of a parachute system is established by the Certificated Parachute Rigger at the time of Inspection and Repack cycle (Repack Cycle 180 days).

The FAA further said in its letter,  a parachute manufacturer who wants to establish a maximum service life after receiving their TSO certification, (under the above TSO’s), the FAA says the manufacturer will have to submit their request, with backup data, so the FAA can review the data and possibly issue a (AD) Airworthiness Directive for that model.

The FAA issuing this type of AD hasn’t happened to date, and I doubt it ever will. The request to add a service life by the manufacturer to their manual after their TSO was issued has been determined by the FAA as a non-regulatory requirement. So service life is determined by the Certificated FAA Parachute Rigger on inspection of the parachute system.

Service Life assigned to a parachute must be included as part of the INITIAL TSO  certification for that model, with supporting data to support the request, and will be in the manual for parachutes from the day forward but does not include parachutes prior to that,  unless the AD process is followed.

FAA Certificated Senior or Master Parachute Riggers refusing to inspect and repack your parachute due to age are ignorant and lacking in foresight and doing you a disservice, take your parachute to another Parachute Rigger.

Letter from the FAA

Best regards,

Donald V Mayer II

FAA Certificated Master Parachute Rigger

FAA/CPL/MEL, Skydiving Instructor, Glider Tow Pilot,

Owner of the Parachute Shop, Saving Lives Since 1973