It is something you need to think about very carefully.
The advantage of a used wing is that it is cheaper than a new one.
The things you need to think about are:
- Paragliders have a limited life. We often talk about hours flown, but the real constraint is hours exposed to UV. That is why you will see pilots get their wing out of the sun when they are not using it. For many paragliders, the useful life is about 300 hours. Since there are no aircraft logbooks, you really cannot tell reliably how many hours they have flown or how many hours someone has let them sit in the sun. There are other components that deteriorate over time. For instance, lines stretch. So, if you get a great deal on a glider that spent 25 hours flying and 75 hours left out in the sun waiting to fly, about a third of the original value is already gone.
- Australia has no legal requirement for periodic inspections of gliders. For new gliders that is not an issue, since they just had factory and dealer inspections. For used paragliders, it is really imprudent–at least we think so–to launch in the air on a glider you cannot know the history of without a full inspection and porosity test. A full inspection and porosity test will generally cost about $300. You may also want a test flight (generally about $150).
- There are potential dangers to paragliders that no inspection will find. For instance, if a paraglider every landed in saltwater, there could be salt crystals dried in the lines that could result in a line breaking just when it is holding you up.
- Paragliding technology evolves. Your used glider may not have the latest technology.
The choice is yours, but we find many cases where the economics of a used glider just does not add up.
As an example, we recently saw for sale a 3-year-old glider with a claimed 5 hours flight. The price new would be $4,800, the price it was offered at was $3,600. Was it a good buy?
Here is how I would do the math, you may do it differently.
|UV deterioration||5 hours is not much airtime, but the key is UV exposure time. There is no way to tell, the glider could have been used for ground handling, it could have been left in the sun while waiting to fly. The five hours could have been accidentally understated. Let’s call it 40 hours of sun exposure or about 15% of the value, so deduct about $720 dollars.|
|Inspection / Flight test||This glider has some kind of weird history. I would want both. So deduct about $450 dollars.|
|Hidden Dangers||No way to really to account for.|
|Technology||This is the current manufacturers model|
|Adjusted Cost||$4,800 -$720 – $450 = $3,630|
|Net savings for buying used||$30|
My feeling is that I am taking a risk and not really saving that much. In this case, I would pass. You might choose differently.