Why soft links?
They can reduce potential damage to the slider grommets, thereby extending the life span of suspension lines. They allow the jumper to pull the slider over the risers and toggles more easily and they do not require the use of slider “bumpers”. No current designs met all of our criteria.
Some of the problems encountered with other designs included: low breaking strength, inconsistent manufacturing techniques, installation requiring tools and/or rigging facilities, removal required destroying the links, riser modification required for use, etc. Some soft link designs even incorporate metal parts… Finally we decided to design and build our own…
There were many issues to be addressed in the project:
- Soft link strength and reliability.
- Soft link construction methods, not to include any metal parts (a true soft link).
- Compatibility with various riser/suspension line combinations (without modification).
- Ease of installation.
- Must be reusable.
Performance Designs was not satisfied with releasing our new soft links unless we were absolutely confident in their reliability. We therefore put them through a grueling series of tests including:
- Destruction testing where we pulled the riser/slink/suspension line systems to failure.
- Destruction testing where we subjected the system to rapid onset, high “g force” loadings, up to and beyond the system failure point. This included shock loadings of over 75 g’s (12,000 lbs. 4 riser system), utilizing both sport and tandem risers and suspension lines.
- High speed, heavy load, drop tests from a B-25 bomber. These tests are the same tests that are performed on Performance Designs’ reserves, in order to meet TSO approval requirements.
- Long term wear testing, on canopies jumped in the field, over an extended time period. This included frequent removal and re-installation of the links tested.
In the tests performed, the Performance Design’s Slink survived at loadings beyond the suspension lines and/or riser!
In our testing, the failure point of the system was repeatedly the suspension lines or the webbing attaching the three rings to the riser. In comparison tests, the PD reserve soft link survived tests that caused failures and/or severe damage to #4 and #5 stainless steel links! The PD Soft links not only survived these tests, but showed no signs of damage.
Based upon the results of these extensive tests, Performance Designs is the first manufacturer ever to receive FAA ‘TSO’ approval for a soft link for use on reserve parachutes!
The Performance Designs Slink is available in two configurations:
- One for main canopies
- One for sport reserves and/or tandem main canopies.
The PD Slink is now available as an option on all new Performance Designs canopies at no additional charge. They may also be purchased in sets of 4 (with installation instructions).