About NZ Aerosports
The Icarus & Daedalus Projects
NZ Aerosports has been building canopies since 1985. We started by making a few Pegasus copies for friends, then began gradually elevating the performance levels of the designs of the day. We've always had a passion for high performance canopies and when the Excalibur and Blue Trac came out, an obvious move for us seemed to be a ZP X-Braced Tri-cell. The Excaliber (developed by Bill Coe of Performance Designs) and the Blue Trac (Parachutes de France) had been the most significant developments canopies had seen for a long time.
Since then, several other canopies have debuted - lifting the bar a little each time. Notably the Sabre, the Jonathon, then in 1993, the Stiletto - the most popular sport main of all time. People started swooping their landings and we've never looked back.
So... we built a couple of ZP X-Braced Tri-cells; the performance was amazing, but the openings were totally unworkable. We headed off in other directions for several years; trying to get better performance out of conventional canopies, and with openings good enough to sell on the market. PD eventually pulled their F-111 Excalibur off the market for similar reasons.
By 1994 we realized that more dramatic innovations were called for. Our most significant performance gain by that time had been the Tri-cell canopy, built in 1989. Elliptical ZP canopies were the norm in HP by now, and we had recently installed one of the first computer cutting systems in the industry. Using our own software, we generated the shapes we needed to build the best ZP Elliptical Crossbraced Tri-cell canopy we had ever jumped. It was hard to make, and bulky, but we knew we were miles ahead of anyone else in our game.
NZ Aerosports has always been a very small business. We had this awesome canopy but it still wasn't opening well enough, and we knew we could get even more out of it. The next 2 years gave us many sleepless nights - we tried everything we could think of to manage the openings and optimize the canopy's performance. We did a run of wind tunnel tests and just about went crazy building more prototypes than we could afford; knowing we had a winner if only we could figure it out.
In 1995 we released the Mk1 Icarus EXTreme; since then, this style of canopy has revolutionized our sport. Canopy flying competitions were starting out and our extra performance showed up clearly in these controlled and measured environments. Soon we were licensing our design to other manufacturers.
In 1997 we released an upgraded version called the FX - with the smaller pack volume and closed in nose universally seen today. In 1999 the giant in the industry, PD (the original designers of the cross-brace) released the Velocity based on the same format we had developed in the FX. This really made people take notice of us; the well deserved industry leader was following our lead. The same day, we released the VX-27cell.
You learn a lot designing High Performance wings. Much of what we had learned was transferred into a complete range of canopies; the Tandem, Omega, Safire and Crossfire, as well as the FX and VX.
By 1999 we set up ICARUS Canopies as an independent company in a joint venture with CIMSA Ingenieria de Sistemas of Barcelona, Spain and Precision Aerodynamics of Chattanooga, GA - USA and launched an aggressive marketing effort in the USA. Sometime later we haved managed to establish the brand as a main player both in USA and in Europe. After some time, Precision left the group and came out with their own versions of these designs. Since then, ICARUS Canopies has benefited from the technology and capabilities of both NZ Aerosports and CIMSA to develop what is surely the most advanced range of sport canopies in the market today.
Since then our progressive designs have clearly been ahead of the field - a position which continues today. The VX set many records and Team EXtreme pushed it to the limits - winning dozens of gold medals around the world. Our canopy design software has also come a long way; our cutting systems is now used by most ram air canopy manufacturers.
In 2005 we launched the brand Daedalus in an effort to satisfy the most demanding breed of canopy pilots out there. With the aim of developing aggressive high performance canopies for competition, the "JVX" was released in January 2005 - having taken first place at the inaugural US Nationals of Canopy Piloting (flown by Jim Slaton). Since then we have continued to develop the performance of the JVX canopy with new sail material technology, new trim and other improved design parameters.
The JVX is only available from NZ Aerosports in New Zealand - sold directly to the canopy pilot. We might be on the other side of the world, but we're only a 'phone call, email and a FedEx away', and we have support centres in both the US and EU.
High performance canopies may be a very small segment of the market, but it's big enough for us. At NZ Aerosports, HP development has always been our passion, and the focus for our future business direction. We're already pushing the limits of HP canopy development - watch this website.