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NZAeroSports Icarus Tandem Canopy

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The Icarus Tandem

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 standard control line configurations, providing performance and ease of use trade-offs (explained below). It comes with either Spectra, Vectran or Dacron fully cascaded lines. As with all our canopies, it is computer cut and can be ordered in any size - standard sizes are 330, 365 and 400sq ft. The 365 with Vectran line and 6 & 2 control line set up has become the standard, and is often available off the shelf.

Control System Options

Having no brake settings has allowed us total flexibility in designing the control system, as the unstowed brakes have very little effect on the opening. 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. Alternatively, all control lines can be rigged to the primary toggles if you prefer not to use separate flare lines.

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 suitable for individuals who jump their own equipment.

2) The second option we call 2 & 6: this option has 6 upper steering lines and 2 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 designed for larger DZ operations.

Both the 6 & 2 and 2 & 6 options can be simply rigged to the primary toggles if you wish.

3) The third option is the Single brake line: for people familiar with canopies without them, flare lines may seem like a hassle or a backwards step. 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 remains lighter than other modern tandem canopies.

All of these options have light toggle pressure compared to other tandem canopies. We provide these options 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 Tandems).

The control line configuration can be changed at any time at minimal cost, if you feel you would like a different setup. All versions are built with reinforcing and attachments for every option.


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.

3/4" T-III (400lb) tape reinforces the entire canopy with tapes running both chordwise and spanwise through the canopy's 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, 1000lb Vectran line, or a combination of 900lb and 525lb Dacron. Spectra has been used on parachutes for a long time; it is very light and strong for its size, but over time it will shrink and elongate out of shape at inconsistent rates, putting the canopy out of trim. Vectran is slightly more bulky than Spectra, but will hold its trim much better. Dacron will stretch over time but does appear to have better trim qualities than Spectra. The majority of our tandem canopies are going out with Vectran lines, as this line tends to have the most advantages depending on your environment. 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.

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 customize colors, size and options.


For Tandem operators, short canopy life means a high cost per jump; down time costs money and is a definite hassle. Our philosophy has been to produce an industrial grade parachute. Other tandem canopy manufacturers recommend or even limit the life of the canopy to around 600 jumps. We have been targeting a 2000 jump canopy life, and have had many Icarus Tandems surpass 2000 jumps - performing as new and with life still left in them.

This extended canopy life is primarily due to the elimination of F-111 fabric from the canopy, and secondly to bulletproof construction at the sacrifice of a smaller pack volume. The canopy has a complete skeleton of tapes that minimizes loading to the fabric, and the fabric we are using maintains its porosity well. We cannot guarantee a 2000 jump life from your canopy, but performance will be maintained and canopy life will be determined purely by fabric degradation (via UV light) and handling wear and tear.

During heavy drop testing, we gradually increased the weight and speed - eventually dropping the canopy at 250MPH with 900lbs under it (400 KPH with 400 KG). This is the equivalent of 4 people doing double terminal. Measuring equipment on the dummy showed the total load on the canopy during opening was almost 10,000 lbs (4.5 tons); the canopy opened perfectly with no damage.

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

There are cheaper tandem canopies available, but on a cost per jump basis, the Icarus Elliptical Tandem is a far cheaper canopy to operate than any other.

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