Glider Ratings: Locally manufactured gliders and where they fit in

From 1 January 1998 all NEW gliders sold in South Africa have to have a rating. Please note the emphasis on the word "new".

This requirement does not affect ANY glider, whether rated or not, already in use or bought before that date. It would be impossible and unethical to force all pilots who are flying unrated gliders to have to buy a new rated glider. These unrated secondhand gliders may be sold again ad infinitum, until their lifespan runs out. Competition gliders may only be flown by pilots who have the correct licence, and the chances that local competition gliders will be rated in future are small. Some overseas competition models and even some sizes of otherwise rated gliders are not rated either. That does not preclude them from being flown, as long as the pilot has the correct licence and knows that it is not rated.

The safety of the local unrated gliders have already been proven, and SAHPA accepted them as thus. Gliders such as the Aztec, xtc, Eclipse, Max, Maja, etc, are accepted in the classes they have been sold in. Any rumours that they may not be sold SECOND-HAND next year or the years to come are untrue.

There have been line problems and some incidents/accidents, not only with Dyneema lines which both the Fun2Fly and Wallend-Air local gliders use, but also Kevlar which is used by most imported gliders. Problems and incidents include shrinkage (Dyneema) and line breakages in flight (Kevlar). Elsewhere in this issue is advice on how to check and look after both the line types. Read it carefully.

As far as accidents go, there have been accidents involving both local and imported gliders. In most cases these accidents relate to pilot error and not glider safety. Some good advice is given in the articles regarding DHV-2 rated gliders with regards as to what rating glider to buy, also elsewhere in this issue. One can buy the wrong rated glider, too!

In my opinion, importers who use the coming regulations to run down local manufacturers and the gliders they produce in order to sell the imported products are using unethical methods. It seems as if by scaring the uninformed flying community with half truths and speculation regarding the local products, they are trying to justify pilots having to pay higher prices. Perhaps they fear the competition the lower priced locally-manufactured gliders will provide, and want to swing public opinion before the truth gets out.

Let's not be overhasty to condemn the local manufacturers just because some of the local gliders are not rated. For the record, the Profile, Puma and Aztec have been rated. The corrected Aztec (which received an Afnor Performance rating due to parachutal tendencies after a B-line stall) was not re-rated.

November 1997
Re-edited May 2001

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