There are two general packing methods in use, side packing and pro packing. Side packing is used a lot on student equipment because it's a well proven way of teaching and controlling the packing standards in a group environment. PRO packing, which stands for proper ram-air orientation, is the standard way of packing most modern sport parachutes. Both methods have many variations which all have an effect on the deployment of the canopy. Some canopies must be packed to a specific variation recommended by the manufacturer.
Before packing any parachute, it's the packers responsibility to ensure that the equipment is safe to pack, this type of responsibility requires the packer to do a six line check before starting the pack job and being vigilant during the pack job by looking out for any damage or excessive wear and tear.
Start by straightening the lines so you have tension between the container and the canopy. Do a line sequence check to make sure the lines are not twisted. Set the brakes and make sure they are secure so they won't release prematurely or get stuck so they won't release. Stow the excess brake line, so it can't get caught during deployment. If the system has a collapsible pilot chute, cock the pilot chute (this is rare when side packing as this packing method is usually done on student equipment).
Use the packing taps and fold the canopy on its side. Count the numbers of packing tabs you have at each point to ensure you have 7 or 9 depending on the number of cells the canopy has. Make sure it's neat and tidy and that all lines are taught. Fold the nose of the canopy under the panels. Place the B line group on top of the A line group with all the material in between to the right of the line groups. Fold the C line group on top of the A/B lines with all the material on the left of the line groups. Fold the D line group on top of the A/B/C line groups with all the material to the right of the lines. Fold the tail so the lines are all on top of the A/B/C/D lines with the material split on both sides. The slider should be positioned tight against the slider stops and stow the material inside. Make sure all the lines are in the centre and wrap the material of the tail around the rest of the canopy to form a thin but long shape about 2 inches wider than the deployment bag.
Fold the canopy in S folds to match the length of the deployment bag. Place the canopy inside the deployment bag being careful not to change the shape or disturb any lines. Make sure all the lines are taught between the canopy and the container, especially the control lines. Make sure the risers are level. Stow the first line group and lock the canopy inside the bag followed by the second line stow. All elastic bands must be in good condition to ensure a proper controlled deployment. Continue with the line stowage until all the lines are stowed with approx 12 inches free between the last line stow and the connector links. Check all line stows, are they the correct length and they look neat and tidy.
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Place the deployment bag just below the main container tray without twisting the bag. Place the risers on position and close the riser covers. Position the lines so they won't catch on anything during deployment and put the deployment bag inside the container. Close the container and make sure the main tray flaps are positioned correctly with grommets either overlapping or offset depending on the container design. (Ref to container manual)
At this point get used to double checking the pilot chute to make sure it's cocked and ready for use. Make sure the bridle line is routed correctly so the pin is easily extracted when a load is applied to the bridle line. Fold the pilot chute and bridle line and stow inside the Pilot chute pocket. Do a final check on the finished pack job by doing a pre-jump check. Add the packing details to your packing log or the DZ packing log if it's going to be used by other skydivers.
The packing method described is a well proven method used on student equipment. However, there are other methods which are just as effective but the variations may have an effect on the deployment and will be chosen by the drop zone chief instructor for the specific equipment in use. The nose of the canopy can be folded in many different ways to help to either slow the deployment or speed it up. It can be opened for a quicker inflation or rolled tight to prevent air entering the nose until the canopy starts to spread during deployment. The canopy material can be folded differently but the common factor is that all lines remain in the centre with the line groups on top of each other. The slider position and stowage can also have an effect on the deployment. The grommets must be taught against the canopy slider stops and the material can be positioned to catch air instantly or catch air after the canopy starts to spread. The line stowage can have a massive effect on deployment which depends on the load required to pull the lines free from the elastics.