Basic Frequently Asked Questions
1) What are the requirements under the HGMA standards for hang glider certification?
The HGMA airworthiness standards require that a set of tests be performed and documented. These include vehicle tests for strength and stability, and flight tests for performance, stability and control. A package documenting these tests, and the specifications of the glider in question, is prepared and presented to the HGMA review board (certification committee). On acceptance of the package, a certificate of compliance is issued.
2) Who does the testing of the glider under the HGMA program?
The manufacturer of the glider normally performs and documents the testing, although the testing can also be contracted out to another party.
3) What special equipment is required to do the HGMA testing?
A “three component” electronic test vehicle that records lift, drag, pitching moment, airspeed and angle of attack at a rate of at least two cycles per second is required to do the vehicle testing. The BHPA and DHV each have such a vehicle, as do at least two US manufacturers. A video camera and airspeed indicator mounted on the glider is required for onboard flight documentation of speed range and return to trim, and a video camera is required for documenting other flight maneuvers that are video taped from a ground based perspective.
4) What does the HGMA’s review of the package consist of?
The HGMA review board (elected by the HGMA members) reviews each certification package to see that it is complete, and in the proper format, as required by the HGMA standards. If the package is complete and in the proper format, a certificate is issued. If the package is not complete, or not in the proper format, the manufacturer is informed as to what additional documentation or corrections are required, and these can be re-submitted for review and acceptance.
5) Who verifies the accuracy of the submitted documentation?
The submitting manufacturer attests to the accuracy of the testing data and specifications for the glider. The certificate issued by the HGMA states that the glider, by declaration of the manufacturer, meets the HGMA standards. If the glider is subsequently involved in an incident that calls into question the accuracy of the originally submitted information, the HGMA may elect to independently verify the accuracy of the submitted information through a process called a “question of compliance.” Also, during the review process, if the submitted documentation shows evidence of non-compliance with the standards, or fails to show compliance with the standards, the package will not be accepted.
6) What is the cost of HGMA certification?
HGMA membership requires an initial $100 membership fee to join the HGMA and an annual assessment to each member that is prorated based on the number of HGMA certified gliders in current production for that manufacturer. The fee for submitting an application for certification for a specific glider model is either a $100 application fee for each package submitted for a newly certified model, or a $50 application fee for each addendum of additional documentation submitted for an existing model. The cost to the manufacturer of the testing and documentation to verify airworthiness and of the documentation needed to specify the design and construction of the aircraft are not typically considered as costs of certification, since the development and manufacture of an airworthy aircraft will require testing and documentation whether or not the aircraft were to be certified to a standard.
7) Who accepts HGMA certification?
HGMA certification is accepted by the United States Hang Gliding Association in the United States, by the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association in Great Britain, and by the Australian Hang Gliding Federation in Australia and by the CIVL, which is the international governing body for hang gliding. The Federal Aviation Administration of the United States Government has also recognized the HGMA program, although under current Federal Aviation Regulations there is no requirement for aircraft certification for hang gliders.
8) What are the differences between HGMA, BHPA and DHV certification?
All three standards have similar basic requirements, though they each differ in specific details. All three require that a certain minimum level of structural strength be demonstrated, that a certain minimum level of stability be demonstrated, and that the glider be able to be flown safely. The specific requirements for how each of these requirements is to be met or demonstrated vary from one standard to another. In the DHV system, for example, strength requirements are based on G loads, whereas in the HGMA standards, they are based on specified combinations of angle of attack and test speed. The DHV uses pitch tests at 40, 60, 80, and 100 kilometers per hour and requires certain minimum pitching moments at certain angles of attack, while the HGMA uses pitch tests at 32, 59 and 85 kilometers per hour, and requires a minimum pitching moment coefficient at certain angles of attack The major difference is probably in the way the programs are administered – in the HGMA program the manufacturers themselves design and develop the required standards, and administer the certification under those standards, and the manufacturers have the option, at least, of doing their own testing in the pursuit of certification.
9) How does it work in the HGMA when a manufacturer’s application for certification is being reviewed by his competitors?
In practice, it actually works very well. The members of the review board do their best to find a way to accept certification applications, rather than reject them. Often the review board will actually help a manufacturer to make small modifications to an unacceptable package that will allow for immediate acceptance. If that is not possible, the review board members will always offer help and advice to the manufacturer in making the necessary additions or corrections to the package. Review board members will also offer help and advice to a manufacturer who is in the process of preparing a package, before the package is submitted. In the past, member manufacturers have also provided testing services to other members.