Welcome to "The USPA Professional," a free e-newsletter distributed to all USPA instructional rating holders, S&TAs and DZOs who have an e-mail address on file with USPA Headquarters. At your next staff meeting, ask any current instructional rating holder who is not receiving this e-news to update their contact information online with USPA Headquarters. To comment on this issue or contribute to future ones, please e-mail email@example.com.
Aircraft Maintenance Packet
All Group Members should have recently received a packet explaining USPA’s new efforts aimed at assisting DZs with complying with FAA maintenance regulations. The program arose from recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that the FAA and USPA work together to educate jump-plane operators about the maintenance requirements imposed on for-hire operations. The packet includes an explanation of the various aircraft inspection programs available to for-hire operators and a sample of the Aircraft Status Form that Group Member DZs will be required to complete and return—as part of the Group Member renewal process—for each jump aircraft on the flight line. The packet materials can be reviewed here.
Are You Prepared For Your Rating Course?
Many coach and instructor examiners have reported an increase in unprepared candidates showing up at the start of a coach or instructor rating course. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, this is nothing new. However, course examiners can help candidates understand what is required by registering courses in advance and providing the course-requirement information to candidates upon initial contact. Many of the examiners have developed useful websites that lay out the information pretty clearly.
Candidates can help themselves by purchasing the current USPA Instructional Rating Manual and Skydiver’s Information Manual well in advance of their course and read through the material. Section one of each rating course includes information about what is required to attend the course and also what is required to teach the course. Each proficiency card lists items that must be completed for the rating. Some items are required before attending the course, and others may be completed either during or after the course.
Examiners can assist candidates with succeeding in their courses by instructing them how to show up fully prepared with all of the pre-course qualifications met ahead of time.
PRO Patches are Now Available
PRO patches are now available for purchase through the USPA Shop. The embroidered patch is 4.5 inches by 2.25 inches. We also have the updated design available as a decal, and T-shirts with the same design will be available in the next few weeks.
Steering Line-Main Bridle Entanglement
Recently, a jumper experienced a horseshoe malfunction following a head-down skydive when her right riser cover blew open during the freefall and the steering toggle was then blown off of its riser. The steering line and toggle then extended a couple of feet behind the jumper. The jumper threw out her main pilot chute at approximately 3,000 feet, and it promptly wrapped around the excess steering line, essentially locking the pilot chute and bridle together with the steering line, which prevented the pilot chute from inflating. The flapping bridle then extracted the main pin, allowing the main bag to come out of the container, and it too began flapping around in the wind behind the jumper. The jumper then pulled the cutaway handle, but the mess remained behind her back even after she manually pulled the main risers loose from the container and tried to clear everything. Now getting “low” (the altitude was not reported), she had no choice left but to deploy her reserve, which thankfully deployed cleanly without entangling with any part of the main risers, lines or bridle. She landed uneventfully under her reserve canopy.
Make sure your container stays securely closed and that your steering toggles remain in place on each riser. Consult a rigger or the gear manufacturer if your rig will not remain securely closed in freefall. This is especially true when freeflying, since the relative wind can hit the container at nearly any angle. This is an example of how a seemingly minor issue can rapidly become a serious problem. This same malfunction has led to at least one fatality in the past.
Industry Reps Meet About Restraints
In response to other NTSB recommendations, USPA convened a meeting this week at FAA’s Civil Aviation Medical Institute in Oklahoma City. USPA representatives and FAA engineers were joined by a Parachute Industry Association representative, a representative of an aircraft modification shop, and an aviation seat belt manufacturer. The NTSB recommended that FAA and USPA research the many different restraint systems currently installed in jump aircraft to determine those that are most effective. USPA convened the meeting to kick off the effort. USPA has also asked many DZs to provide photos of their restraint systems so that the many different configurations can be cataloged. This week’s meeting will determine the future course of action.
Skydive Calendars Available in Bulk Discounts
The 2010 USPA Skydive calendar is hot off the press and available for purchase through the USPA Shop. We are offering fabulous bulk discounts, so it’s even more affordable to stock these on your shelves and make some money, too. The calendar does not have a price printed on it; DZs may charge whatever price they’d like. A single copy, when purchased through the USPA Shop, is $23.95 (14.95 plus $9 shipping).
Don’t Forget the Gear Checks
This is just a reminder to all the busy (and even the not-so-busy) instructors out there to take the time to perform a thorough gear check before every jump. Regardless of whether it is a tandem, static-line, instructor-assisted deployment or coach jump, pre-jump equipment checks for both your own gear and your student’s gear are a critical component of the skydive.
This must include a thorough preflight inspection before a jumper puts on the rig, to verify that it is airworthy and ready for use. That check must be followed by a pre-boarding inspection to ensure the rig is on correctly and is ready for the skydive. This must be followed by a final check in the airplane before the exit, to ensure everything is in place and ready for the jump. Section 5-4 of the Skydiver’s Information Manual includes a thorough check list.
Help keep yourself and your students as safe as possible by ensuring everyone’s gear is ready for the jump.