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Parachutes Australia
22 Bosci Rd
PO Box 969
Australia, 2565
Ph+61 2 98295355
Fax+61 2 98291300
NZ Aerosports has been building rectangular ZP tandem canopies for over 6 years, The Icarus Tandem has sold well, it was developed and on the market before any other manufacturer had released a ZP tandem. Elliptical and Tapered 1/2 ZP tandem canopies eventually came on the scene providing similar performance. Developing a canopy takes a lot of time and effort, our canopy was up there but was not worth developing further for the market size we were in.

In early 1997 we came to an agreement with Precision Aerodynamics for Precision to build our canopy designs under licence in the US. Precision had just done a deal with Stunts Adventure Equipment to provide tandem main and reserve canopies to go in the new Eclipse Tandem rig. Now it became viable to put the effort into designing a new tandem main.

We had learned quite a lot from our first canopy, what worked well and what its weaknesses were. We transferred most of the construction straight into the Precision TR375 tandem reserve, which flew through the US TSO process without a hitch, we stuck with our proven construction evaluated some new materials that are available and began shaping, testing, tweaking and re-testing the Icarus Elliptical.

Precision and ourselves have now built several hundred Icarus Elliptical Tandem canopies, to date it is has been approved by 4 of the 5 FAA tandem exemption holders for use in their equipment in the US (not a requirement in most other countries). It is the only canopy to be approved in the US not manufactured and sold in conjunction with the exemption holders' equipment.

Design Concept

The parameters we used to define our ideal tandem canopy where.
  • Canopy to last 2000 jumps plus. (Low real cost)
  • Comfortable openings.
  • Easy landings.
  • Light toggle pressure.

The Canopy

The Icarus Elliptical Tandem canopy is a totally Zero-P, Truly Elliptical canopy (leading edge and trailing edge) The only straight cell is the centre cell. The cells vary in width to control cell deformation over the span of the canopy. There are no brake settings and the canopy opens on full drive. It is available in 3 control line configurations providing performance and ease of use trade-offs (explained later) and comes with either, Spectra or Vectran fully cascaded lines. As with all our canopies it is computer cut and available in any size you wish to order. To date they have been ordered in sizes between 400sf and 330sf. The 365sf with vectran line and a single brake line (no flare line) has become the standard and is often available off the shelf.

Control System Options

As there are no brake settings this allowed us total flexibility when designing the control system as the unstowed brakes affect the opening very little. There are 3 different options for the brake line setup.

1/ The first option we call "6 & 2". This setup provides the lightest possible steering with the most powerful flare. There are only 2 upper steering lines on each side, going to the outside corners of the canopy. This provides the very light steering and fast turn rate. The toggle pressure is even lighter than a single person parachute making the canopy effortless to fly. On the other hand there are 6 upper flare lines on each side covering most of the back of the canopy, every 1/2 cell has a control line of some sort attached to it except the centre cell providing the most powerful flare available. When the flare lines get picked up the toggle pressure comes back closer to normal tandem toggle pressure.

The down side of this option is that if the flare lines are not picked up there will be virtually no flare available. This option is more for individuals who jump their own equipment.

2/ The second option we call "4 & 4". This option has 4 upper steering lines and 4 upper flare lines. The steering toggle pressure is heavier than the "6 & 2" but is still very light. The canopy's flare and combined toggle pressure are exactly the same as 6 & 2 but you will still get a reasonable flare if the flare lines are not picked up. This option was developed more for larger DZ operations.

3/ The third option is the "Single brake line". (This is proving the most popular option by far) For many people who are used to canopies without flare lines, flare lines may seem like a hassle or a step backwards. This setup has a heavier steering pressure than the first two options but is much lighter to flare and simpler to operate. The flare is almost as powerful as the flare lined version. The toggle pressure is about the same as most modern tandem canopies without the flare line picked up so is still reasonably light.

All of these options are very light compared to other tandem canopies, we are providing these options both 1) Because we can, and 2) To fit in with other equipment you or your DZ may be using in the interim (before you have replaced all your existing canopies with Icarus ellipticals).
The control line configuration can be changed at any time if you feel you would like a different setup for a minimal cost. All versions are built with reinforcing and attachments for every option.


As with your personal canopy, going to total ZP and a fully elliptical planform improves the landings enormously. Landings on the 365 size and above are more gentle than any tandem canopies we've tried. The 6 & 2 option is manoeuvrable enough to build up a lot of speed for a good surf if your into that. Nil winds with heavy loads will still have some minimal forward speed as you will get with any canopy, the light toggle pressures makes flaring and controlling the flare very easy.


The openings we are getting are soft, consistent and comfortable, they take 500-700 feet. There is a variable lip over the nose as with many Zero-P canopies, there is no flag or hole in the slider, the slider is flat.

The openings on this canopy have been exceptional right from the beginning of the development program. We have absolutely no brake sets on the canopy, which has been working out very well with absolutely no down side. The canopy opens center cell first with the ends collapsed, the remaining cells slowly inflate to a full canopy. Off heading openings do exist but will not dive away so do not become an issue. The openings are very consistent.
During testing we opened the canopy at Tandem Terminal (Drogueless) on many occasions and had nothing but smooth soft openings.


Packing is more difficult than packing an F-111 canopy. As with your own ZP canopy once you have got used to it and the shine has gone from the fabric (about 20-30 jumps) you will not have a problem with packing and it will become easy. (until then you will hate us). We are mostly pro packing or psycho packing, packing it on the side with a roll pack can help get the air out easily and to control the canopy as it goes in the bag. If ordered with packing tabs, the packing tabs are set so they will draw all the lines tight but are still reachable. Rolling or spreading the nose can vary opening speeds and of course... there are no brakes to set.


The construction is very heavy. We have spared no effort or expense and sacrificed some pack volume in order to create a robust industrial grade canopy.

We have 3/4" T-III (400lb) tape reinforcing the whole canopy with tapes running both chordwise and spanwise through the canopies lower surface as well as up the load bearing ribs and through the nose and tail to create a totally interconnected frame or skeleton of tape within the canopy. The canopy fabric is Soarcoat as used in most US built canopies.

There is an option of US made 1500lb Spectra or 1000lb Vectran line, Spectra has been used on parachutes for a long time, it is very light and strong for it's size but will shrink and elongate out of shape over time at inconsistent rates putting the canopy out of trim. Vectran is a relatively new fibre that is slightly more bulky than Spectra but will hold its trims much better and appears to wear a little better. It has very low stretch much like Spectra and is a similar colour to Kevlar but feels much softer. Virtually all our tandem canopies are going out with Vectran lines. We have dropped the line we had previously been using with the availability of these new products.

The canopy comes with bridle reinforcing to suit any system. Risers and toggles are not included as they come with your rig. Risers with a flare toggle setup are required. If ordering in that configuration, we can modify your existing risers for you if necessary or send you a diagram for your local rigger to do the mod so your rig is not out of action for too long.

At NZ Aerosports we computer cut all our canopies with our CAD/CAM system. We use no patterns or templates and program each order individually into our computer system to customise colours, size and options.


For Tandem operators short canopy life limitations mean a high cost per jump, down time can cost money and is a hassle.

Our whole philosophy has been to produce an industrial grade parachute. Other tandem canopy manufacturers recommend or even limit the life of the canopy to be around 600 jumps. We have been targeting a 2000 jump canopy life. To date we have had several Icarus Tandem's with mostly the same materials and construction surpass 2000 jumps that still have life left in them and still perform as new.

This extended canopy life is primarily due to the elimination of F-111 fabric from the canopy and secondly to the bulletproof construction at the sacrifice of a smaller pack volume. The canopy has a complete skeleton of tapes that totally minimises loading to the fabric. The fabric we are using maintains its porosity very well. We can not guarantee a 2000 jump life from your canopy but performance is maintained and canopy life is now purely determined by fabric degradation caused by UV light and handling wear and tear.

We transferred the Icarus Tandem construction into the Precision TR375 tandem reserve and put it through the FAA TSO process. During the heavy drop testing we gradually increased the weight and speed and eventually dropped the canopy at 250MPH with 900lbs under it (400 KPH with 400 KG) the equivalent of 4 people doing double terminal. Measuring equipment on the dummy showed the total load on the canopy during the opening had been almost 10,000 lbs (4.5 tonne's). The canopy opened perfectly with no damage. (Exit height for these tests was 300ft)

Line sets need to be replaced periodically like a set of tyres on your car, This is relatively low cost and can be done at the factory or can be provided in kit form for a rigger to install.

Disadvantages of This Design

The unavoidable trade off we have made in order to gain canopy life and performance over its life was the decision to eliminate any F-111 and go for a totally Zero-P construction. This does have a down side but we decided this was definitely a better overall way to go. The 3 disadvantages caused by Zero-P are:

  1. Packing (we have already discussed)
  2. Ground handling after landing is a little clumsier.
  3. Initial purchase price. (ZP costs more than F-111). There are cheaper tandem canopies available. However on a cost per jump basis the Icarus Elliptical Tandem is a far cheaper canopy to operate than any other.


The cost effectiveness of the Icarus Elliptical Tandem is currently unbeatable. The cost per jump can go from around US$4.33 for existing tandem canopies used to their factory limited life to US$1.30 or a saving of around US$6661.00 over the life of the canopy if you achieve 2000 jumps from it.

The canopy will still be performing as it does from new throughout its life, rather than slowly loosing its performance over the next 500 jumps. For larger DZs your tandem masters won't be avoiding the older rigs any more. (But the packers might be avoiding the new ones at first) You or your tandem masters will find it easy to fly and land, the toggle pressure is refreshingly light and the openings are great.

We suggest the 365sf canopy (although any size is orderable) with the Vectran line option and the single brake line system is by far the most popular and is often available off the shelf. We hold spare line sets and components in stock for the 365 size also.

Price: $4900.00

All prices quoted are in Australian Dollars and are subject to change without notice.

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