Since spring 2020, many manufacturers have found themselves in an extraordinary situation, created by the knock-on effects of COVID-19. Here's some important background information about the continuing situation for manufacturers of paragliding, hang gliding, speedflying and paramotoring equipment, so customers can have a better idea of what delivery times are realistic.

Obtaining raw materials and production planning have become hugely more challenging — and unpredictable — for manufacturers in all sectors. Often they can't give a meaningful estimated delivery time for products because no one knows when all the raw materials necessary to make them will arrive, or new lockdowns will unexpectedly come into force for undefined periods. The obvious consequence is that production is severely restricted, for an unknown duration.

Skilled Advance factory worker assembling a wing

^ It takes almost a year before a new employee can achieve Advance's high standard and then be fully productive.

To add to this already difficult situation, demand for free flight equipment has soared, so that there's far more demand than the manufacturers can satisfy in the short term. With this boom in individual sport, many manufacturers in the leisure and outdoor industry are confronted by the same problem.

Delays, often of uncertain duration, are more and more common.

Manufacturers & suppliers are doing all they can

Of course, the manufacturers are doing all they can to keep their production going in very challenging times, and so they ask pilots for their understanding. There's only so much they can do. Circumstances beyond their control mean they will not be able to avoid delivery delays, potentially long ones. For example, at the time of writing Ozone are quoting the current production time for some of their wings as 176 days (nearly 6 months) from order to shipping from their factory in Vietnam.

Skilled Advance factory worker assembling reserve container for harnesses

^ Skilled Advance factory worker assembling reserve containers for harnesses.

Reflecting the similar situation of other free flight manufacturers, Advance have helpfully shared an article on their website — which this update is partly based upon — giving some important background information. At the time of publishing this latest update still stands:

"LOCKDOWN VIETNAM

UPDATE 27.07.2021: At the moment Vietnam is in lockdown, and our production in Ho Chi Minh City is greatly affected by major restrictions. How long this will last cannot be estimated at this time, but, being realistic, we are looking at months rather than weeks. The impact on our delivery times is currently difficult to estimate due to the uncertain situation. We will let you know as soon as things become clearer, and ask for your understanding in the meantime."

The rest of Advance's post is very helpful and insightful about the general state of affairs for all manufacturers:

"DEMAND BOOMS IN EXCEPTIONAL TIMES

For the time being, a lot is different from life as we used to know it. Circumstances everywhere demand a high degree of flexibility. In our case, production planning and raw material procurement in particular are complicated. During the spring months, we had to virtually stop production for several months due to great uncertainty about the future. At the end of the first Covid wave the demand for paragliding equipment increased dramatically. Like many other outdoor manufacturers, we did not expect such strong demand.

QUALITY BEFORE QUANTITY

All this leads to the well-known situation of delivery bottlenecks and longer waiting periods for many of our products. We know how frustrating it is to be looking forward to unpacking your new paraglider and then have to wait several weeks for it. Of course, we are not happy with this situation. Nevertheless, we can assure you that our production in Vietnam has been running at well over 100% since the beginning of the summer, and our 300+ employees are working a lot of overtime. We are constantly training new people, but it takes almost a year before a new employee can achieve our high standard and then be fully productive. This illustrates that it is practically impossible for us to increase production capacity in the short term. Last but not least, we depend on our suppliers. They, too, do their utmost to ensure a supply of raw materials, although their starting position is equally difficult.

WE ARE DOING OUR BEST

Of course, we are delighted that so many people enjoy our equipment. We see the smiles on your faces every day on all the social media posts. We want this to continue and assure you that we will spare no effort to keep delivery times as short as possible. Nevertheless, some longer waiting times will be unavoidable in the coming months. We hope that we have been able to give you a good "look behind the scenes" and would like to thank you for your understanding."

Advance Paragliders production facility in Vietnam

^ Advance Paragliders production facility in Vietnam

In summary

Bearing the above in mind, the current reality is that if you want to order a specific make, model, size and colour of wing, harness or reserve (or any other gear) which isn't in stock, be prepared to wait, possibly for a long and uncertain time. The sooner you place your order, the sooner you will receive it — but realise that it's not possible to say when. Not having to deal with repeated delivery update requests means we can focus our efforts on working with our suppliers to get your goodies to you faster.

We assure you that we and the manufacturers are already doing all we can to deliver your order to you as fast as possible in the circumstances. It's very much in our interests to do so, since ultimately we want exactly the same as you do — for you to be happy! This way we hope that you will give us good reviews, recommend us to others and choose to buy from us again in future.

If you want to get your new gear faster — and more certainly — then you should order what your favourite supplier has in stock.

Flybubble hold far more stock than most, and our website shows live stock information.

However, since keeping comprehensive stock of everything would cost millions of pounds, it's not viable for suppliers to do this.

So the next best thing is to order what the manufacturers have in stock AND are able to ship. Ask your supplier to check for you.

If a particular product is in stock but immobilised due to a lockdown, then again be prepared to wait an uncertain amount of time.

Advance factory worker checking materials

^ Advance factory worker checking materials

We hope this article has helped clarify the extremely challenging situation which free flight manufacturers have been facing since spring 2020, and the resulting general global situation with sports equipment availability.