High Power Rocketry Certification Level 3


Flyer Requirements
1.1 Any individual attempting NAR Level 3 Certification must be a Level 2 high power certified
NAR member in good standing.
An individual may not submit a design for a Level 3 Certification project review to the L3CC
until Level 2 certification has been successfully accomplished.
2.0 Rocket Requirements
2.1 The certification rocket must be substantially built by the certifying flyer. “Substantially
built” will be defined, as a minimum, as:
a) Fabrication of the engine mount with centering rings (if applicable)
b) Alignment and mounting of the individual fins (prefabricated fin
canisters are specifically disallowed)
c) Installation of attachment points for the recovery
d) Mounting and installation of airframe electronics
e) Final flight preparations including pyrotechnics installation, recovery system
packing, motor assembly (as required) and motor installation
Only the builder of the rocket may use that rocket for a certification attempt.
Rockets built by other than the certifying flyer are specifically disallowed. Certification
rockets may be built from commercially available kits and may contain
components built to the specifications of the certifying flyer but fabricated by others.
2.2 Multiple stage and clustered rockets are specifically disallowed for certification flights.
2.3 Each parachute event must be initiated by redundant control systems. Redundancy must
be present in the power sources, safe and arm provisions, control logic, and output devices
(e.g. bridgewires, electric matches). Redundancy is not required in the energetic materials
(e.g. black powder charges), parachutes, attach points, risers, and disconnects. Motor
ejection charges may be used as a redundant system, but rockets depending primarily on
motor ejection for any recovery event are specifically disallowed. A safe rate of decent.
(20ft/ second is recommended) for any component weighing in excess of eight ounces.
2.4 The capability must exist to externally disarm all pyrotechnic devices on-board the rocket.
In this context, ‘disarm’ means the ability to physically break the connection between a
pyrotechnic system and its power source. Simply turning off the device controlling the
pyrotechnic(s) may not be sufficient.
2.5 The rocket must conform in all respects to any restrictions imposed by the NAR High Power
Safety Code, NFPA 1127, and the Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).
2.6 A rocket used for a Level 3 certification must have a minimum fineness (length-to-mean
diameter/body width) ratio of 4:1 and be aerodynamically stabilized using fins, tubes
or other non-shroud components of measurable thickness not to exceed 10% of the mean
chord or semi-span. In lieu of calculating the mean diameter/body width, maximum
diameter/body width may be used. The documentation submitted for review shall include
the fineness ratio and mean chord/semispan-to-thickness ratio
3.0 Certification Procedures
3.1 The flyer shall obtain and fill out a NAR Level 3 Certification Application (available
from the NAR web site at www.nar.org). This form documents the certification
procedure steps. The flyer shall also prepare a Certification Package as defined in
these requirements.
3.2 Prior to the start of construction of the Level 3 Certification project, the flyer shall
submit detailed plans for L3CC member review and approval. The purpose of the
review is to ensure the rocket will be structurally and functionally adequate for the
stresses encountered during launch and recovery.
The flyer shall complete the Construction Package Affidavit section of the
Certification Application and obtain L3CC (Level 3 Certification Committee) member
approval. The purpose of the inspection is to verify that the rocket is being
constructed in a manner suitable for the stresses encountered in a Level 3 flight.
3.2.1 The flyer may invite a L3CC member to inspect the model during assembly when
construction features are visible for inspection. The flyer assumes the risk, if a L3CC
member has not inspected the model during construction and documentation of
hidden features is not adequate, that the Rocket Construction package may not be
The flyer shall document rocket features hidden during assembly using photographs.
Digital or film technologies are permitted. An easily recognized size reference (e.g. ruler,
coin) is required in the photographs (The size reference may be omitted if other
photographs permit easy determination of feature sizes).
3.2.3 The approval of the Construction Package Affidavit section of the Certification
Application shall be made in advance of the flight. Technical data supporting the
Construction Package Affidavit approval shall be made available to the L3CC member
performing the review a minimum of 5 days prior to the flight attempt.
3.3 The flyer shall complete the Recovery Package Affidavit section of the Certification
Application and obtain L3CC member approval. The purpose of the inspection is to
verify that the rocket recovery system is designed and constructed in a manner to:
a) Withstand the stresses encountered during recovery
b) Have a high probability of successful operation
c) Have a safe rate of decent. (20ft/ second is recommended.)
Technical data supporting the Recovery Package Affidavit approval shall be
made available to the L3CC member performing the review a minimum of 5 days prior
to the flight attempt
3.3.1 Prior to the certification flight, the flyer shall present a Recovery Systems Package to one
L3CC member. This package shall contain the following
a) Description of the recovery system components including:
– Drogue parachute
– Main parachute
– Parachute bags
– Anchor and connecting (e.g. quicklink) hardware
– Risers
– Compartments, covers
b) Description of recovery initiation control components including:
– Logic and control modules
– Power sources
– Safe and arm provisions
– Output devices (e.g. flashbulbs, electric matches)
– Schematic/wiring diagram showing the connections of the above items
– Mounting structure/access features
– Pyrotechnic devices (type, quantity, volume/weight of pyrotechnic materials, how
was the volume/weight of pyrotechnic materials determined)
c) Description of expected descent rate with the main recovery device deployed and
explanation of how the descent rate was determined, or other description
explaining why the main recovery device is suitably sized for the certification rocket
(manufacturer’s recommendation, etc.).
d) Documentation describing how the basic functioning of the recovery electronics has been
demonstrated prior to the certification flight (use of untested ejection
control electronics is not permitted). This shall be accomplished by either or both
of the following methods:
– Document flight tests utilizing the recovery electronics intended for use in the
Level 3 certification flight.
– Document the ground testing of the recovery electronics.
In either case document the extent of the tested components including, recovery
electronic modules, power supplies, safe and arm provisions, and bridgewire (e.g.
flashbulb, electric match) type.
3.4 The flyer shall present a Certification Package prior to the certification flight. The
purpose of the certification package is to present data sufficient to ascertain the flight
readiness of the model.
3.4.1 The Certification Package shall contain all of the
following: a) The Construction and Recovery Systems
packages b) Calculations determining center of
c) A scale drawing of the certification rocket showing major dimensions, calculated
center of pressure, and the aft center of gravity limit in the Level 3 certification
flight configuration. d) A description of the expected flight profile using the
intended certification motor(s). This profile should include:
– Launch weight
– Estimated drag coefficient
– Velocity as the rocket leaves the launch system
– Maximum expected velocity
– Maximum expected altitude
– Maximum expected acceleration
The method (or program) used to establish the above performance
parameters should be identified.
e) A pre-launch checklist covering airframe, electronics, and motor preparation.
f) A post-recovery checklist for ‘safing’ the rocket in case of a failure. This would
include steps required for disarming pyrotechnics, removal of unfired igniters,
g) A declaration of any design features designed for breakaway or easy
replacement, e.g. shear pins, to minimize landing damage.
3.5 Prior to the certification flight, the flyer will present the certification rocket and Certification
Package to two senior members of the NAR, who will act as Flight Witnesses, for preflight
inspection. One of the Flight Witnesses shall be a member of the L3CC and the other
shall be Level 2 or Level 3 certified. Both Flight Witnesses must approve the rocket for
3.5.1 L3CC members that approved the Construction and /or Recovery Packages do not
have to be the Flight Witnesses.
3.5.2 Only the Flight Witnesses who performed the pre-flight inspection shall approve
the flight. No other individuals shall approve the flight.
3.6 The actual flight shall meet ALL of the following requirements:
a) The rocket shall use a motor with total impulse greater than 5120 Newtonseconds
b) The flight shall be made while a suitable FAA waiver is in effect
c) The rocket shall make a stable, safe flight. Safety includes compliance with FAA
waiver limits. Models that exceed the FAA waiver altitude are, by definition,
unsafe and cannot be certified.
d) The rocket shall fully deploy its recovery system. An anomalous deployment of
the recovery system is not cause for flight rejection if the model descended in a
safe manner. It is up to the judgement of the Flight Witnesses whether the model
descended in a safe manner.
e) The rocket shall remain intact, with no separation of parts that do not deploy
their own recovery device(s)
3.7 The rocket shall be returned for post-flight inspection. Models that cannot be returned
for post-flight inspection, even if they are visible in a tree or power-line cannot be
certified. The post flight inspection will verify that:
a) The motor casing remained in the airframe
b) The airframe is complete
c) There is no damage that would prevent an immediate re-flight of the model. It is up
to the Flight Witnesses to evaluate the extent of any damage and its effect on
re- flight of the model.
3.8 Upon signing the final approval on the Certification Package, the Flight Witnesses are
certifying that they have reviewed the Certification Package and verified previous
acceptance of the Construction and Recovery Packages. Flight Witnesses, upon
signing the final approval, are certifying that the flight met all of the requirements for
Level 3 certification.
3.9 Either Flight Witness may disallow the certification attempt if, in his or her opinion, it
did not fully meet all of the requirements for Level 3 certification.
3.10 The flyer will remove and keep the signed, upper section of the Certification Application.
This may be used as temporary proof of Level 3 certification.
3.10.1 One of the Flight Witnesses will return the completed Certification Application to
NAR Headquarters.
3.10.2 The Certification Package does not have to be provided to NAR Headquarters.
3.10.3 The flyer will receive an updated NAR membership card, showing the Level 3 certification
4.0 Failed Certification Procedures
4.1 The procedure shall be considered failed if the failure is the result of a flight attempt that
did not comply with the Level 3 requirements. Certification Package deficiencies shall be
corrected prior to the flight attempt and do not constitute a failed certification procedure.
4.2 One of the Flight Witnesses shall fill out the Failed Certification Flight section on the Level
3 Certification Application. The form shall then be mailed to:
Art Upton
5944 Pembridge
Toledo, OH 43615
4.2.1 The Certification Package does not have to be provided to NAR Headquarters.
4.3 These forms will not be used to track failures by individuals. Failed certification attempts
do not count against an individual. The forms will be used to track the effectiveness of the
NAR Level 3 certification procedures. They will also be used to track the frequency and
types of failures. This information is needed in order to improve the certification
procedures over time.