Sulla sicurezza dei caschi e certificazione E.N. 966
Traduzione in Italiano in arrivo
Icaro 2000 presents one of the stringent tests performed on its helmets in order to obtain EN 966 certification for free flight and micro light sports.

Remember that the tests that have to be passed to obtain EN 1077 ski helmet certification are not as demanding as those for EN 966.

Please bear our recommendations in mind at all times: the most important is:

Never fly without a helmet; life is too important to risk losing it due to a senseless omission
Helmet legislation

In the EU and Switzerland, it is obligatory to wear an approved helmet for each sports activity. Every sport has its own characteristics, and therefore the corresponding helmet is specifically tailored to the requirements. In the case of hang gliding, paragliding and microlight flying, tests are particularly severe. Every helmet should have a label inside specifying the standards for which it was tested, and in Europe the respective legislation is EN 966. Anyone selling a helmet has to ensure that it is certified for the sport in which it will be used. Selling an uncertified helmet is an offence liable to criminal prosecution!

All our helmets have been tested and certified by CSI, a company authorized by the Italian Ministry of Transport and recognized by the German TUV. This company issues certification for all helmets manufactured in Italy, including ours, which are designed especially for free flight, in accordance with European standards (EN 966). Our helmets were designed and built specifically to be as light as possible. However they optimize safety for hang glider and paraglider pilots, as shown by the information below.

Principles of head protection

The helmet provides protection by reducing the rate of deceleration of the head during an impact. This is achieved by absorbing kinetic energy. In the case of very minor bumps, the rate of deceleration is reduced simply by the gradual compression of the innermost polyurethane padding layer. In the case of a more abrupt jolt, deceleration is attenuated by the permanent deformation of the inner shell, made in expanded polystyrene. When the amount of energy to be absorbed is much higher, as in a violent impact, the only way of offering protection is by the controlled breakage of the rigid outer shell. In other words, a helmet shell that is too robust will not necessarily offer the best protection, and on the contrary it may actually worsen the situation by increasing the rate of deceleration through the rebound effect. The controlled breakage principle determines the optimal shell material and thickness, so that, in the case of a violent impact, it breaks while absorbing the maximum amount of kinetic energy. This same principle is used in the car industry. In the event of a crash, the front or rear part of the car will progressively collapse, absorbing the impact energy and maintaining the inner cell of the car intact, protecting the passengers. Therefore, it is normal that the helmet’s outer shell should break on strong impact in order to absorb the shock and prevent its transmission to the head. This is why, even though it may seem a contradiction in terms, a helmet must be handled and used with great care. During storage, it must not be exposed to strong pressure, above all in the chin protection and side areas, which are where the helmet should progressively break in order to provide the necessary protection in case of high impact. Likewise, if powerful pressure is deliberately exerted onto the helmet, the surface varnish may split. Cracks on the varnish around the facial area usually appear when the chin protection is strongly pressed backwards. In case of very strong impact, the helmet MUST break in these specific areas! The fact that a free flight helmet should be light is not concerned with just reducing the overall weight of the pilot-craft system. In fact a heavy helmet increases the risk of neck injury on impact due to the increased inertia.

Helmet structure

A helmet has an outer shell in a composite fibre material, and a crushable foam inner shell, in expanded polystyrene. The innermost layer consists of the comfort lining, made in expanded polyurethane and transpirant, non-allergenic textile. This part of the lining enables the helmet to be adapted to different sizes (by means of replaceable lining sections), and it makes it more comfortable. In some models, it may be removable and washable. The helmet may have vents, for internal ventilation and air circulation. The chin strap usually has a rapid fastening system, along with Velcro strips to prevent the ends of the straps from flapping about. The visor is a component that increases protection against cold air and intense sunlight. It is made in anti-abrasion thermoplastic material; it may also be anti-fogging. Just as for high-quality sunglasses, the visor is made of a series of high-technology layers, and so it should be treated with care in order to prevent scratching. The visor should be replaced when vision is impeded by small surface scratches.

Choosing and purchasing a helmet

When you purchase a helmet, the most important consideration is ensuring that the helmet is exactly the right size. Therefore it is important to take your time when choosing a helmet. Try on several different sizes, and for each, fasten and adjust the chinstrap. The helmet should not be so loose that it moves around, but neither so tight that it exerts continuous pressure on your head. In the former case there is the risk of it sliding down and obstructing your vision in flight, and of slipping on impact, exposing parts of the head that should be protected. In the latter case, the inner layer of the helmet is already compressed, reducing its capacity for absorbing impact energy. Therefore, when trying the helmet on, try to pull it off, moving it back and forth: if it tends to slip off or move around, it is too large. Lean your head forwards, grip the helmet’s rear edge, and try to pull the helmet off. If it slides off, it is not suitable for the shape of your head. Another important factor to be considered is the choice between full face and open face helmets. The full face helmet provides protection for the chin area. If, while trying on the helmet, it does not perform satisfactorily for just one of these criteria, you should try another size or another model. Never purchase a second-hand helmet, even if the price seems attractive. There is no way of discerning its real conditions (whether it has been involved in an accident, etc.).

Using the helmet

Once you have chosen the most suitable helmet, make sure that you wear it correctly. For safety, it should always fit snugly, and the strap should be tightly fastened. Remember that the helmet should be worn at all times when practising your sport, in order to exploit the protection that it provides, whatever impact may occur. Though it is true that a helmet can never guarantee total protection for the head when subject to the forces produced by whatever type of impact, this is no excuse to forego wearing a helmet. Before using the helmet, read the instructions and follow the suggestions provided on how to attain a correct fit. Do not use the helmet without fastening the strap. An unfastened helmet will fall off during the first impact, leaving the head defenceless for successive impacts. It may even fall off during flight. Do not fasten the helmet using just the Velcro strips. The Velcro that may be present on the strap is not the principal fastening device: it serves purely to stop it flapping in the wind. If you keep your helmet in your harness pack, don’t sit on it, and ensure that it is not exposed to pressure under the weight of other packs and bags. To ensure maximum performance, never modify your helmet, whatever the circumstances. The helmet can be seriously damaged by paints and varnish, by all types of chemical solvent, and by excessive heat. Therefore do not add painted decoration; do not wash with petrol or solvents; and do not leave your helmet exposed to the sun. If the helmet is a model with a visor, change the visor if vision is unsatisfactory due to surface scratches. A helmet does not have a fixed lifespan. In the absence of any minor or major impacts, a helmet will continue to offer optimum protection for many years. However, it is a good rule to replace it after five years, so that you can benefit from the additional protection provided by the latest generation of helmets. As in all fields, performance of these products is increasing continuously as a result of ongoing research and development – such as that conducted by Icaro 2000. If the helmet undergoes an impact, whether minor or major, it must be replaced even if there is no visible damage. In fact the inner shell will have suffered a degree of permanent deformation, because it has absorbed the impact. Likewise, if the helmet suffers a sudden blow – such as falling from a table onto a hard floor – microscopic cracks may develop in the outer shell, reducing its capacity for absorbing a more serious impact at a later date.

In case of accident

If you witness an accident, keep calm. Report the accident immediately, if possible by phoning for an ambulance (dial 118 in Italy) or the appropriate mountain rescue team. Never move an injured person, unless this is absolutely essential because of a situation of greater danger. Only medically-qualified personnel know exactly how to deal with injuries. If the spinal column is damaged, moving the injured person could damage the spinal cord, causing permanent paralysis. If the victim is wearing a helmet, do not remove it, but just open the visor to facilitate respiration. Keep the victim calm, and, if possible, cover him/her. Shock provokes shivering and a sensation of cold. Do not give the victim alcoholic drinks. Stem the flow of blood from wounds, protecting your hands with gloves or similar, throwing them away later if they have been soiled with blood. Do not apply tourniquets: if you place a tourniquet in the wrong position, you could worsen the situation. Never put the victim into a private car. Wait for the ambulance.
The severe drop test performed
for E.N. 966 certification

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