What kind of testing or certification is done on hang gliders and paragliders?
There are various programs in existence which prescribe specific testing methods and criteria to test the airworthiness of hang gliders and paragliders. These tests are designed to measure the gliderís strength, itís aerodynamic stability (which is basically the tendency to recover to normal flight from an unusual attitude), itís performance and itís controllability. The tests are usually a combination of flying tests and simulated wind tunnel tests performed on a test vehicle. The general form and content of these tests is patterned after the type of tests required to certify an airplane to government airworthiness standards. In the United States, hang gliders can be certified under the Hang Glider Manufacturerís Association (HGMA) airworthiness standards. Similar programs are administered in Britain by the BHPA (British Hang Gliding Association) and in Germany by the DHV (Deutsche Hang gleiter Verband). There is no widely recognized U.S. certification program for paragliders, but most paragliders sold in the U.S. are imported and are certified to either DHV standards or to a common European standard known as ACPULS or AFNOR.