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Vol. 5 - February 2000 - English Edition The Magazine from Skydive World


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 [Updated: February 14, 2000]                          Page 1 - For more safety issues see Page 2

Fatal Accident in Spain

The British skysurfing champion Chris Gauge, a team member of the UK Skysurf team "Vice Versa", had a fatal accident over "Train In Spain" in Bailen, Spain on February 9 while giving lessons on how to participate in the sport safely. Chris fell to his death in front of his wife and several British parachutists after he jumped from a plane at about 13,000ft and his two parachutes did not open. One local report said that it was believed that Mr Gauge, a veteran of more than 2,000 jumps, might have lost consciousness and failed to pull his rip-cord. For more information check out the following pages:,3604,135971,00.html


BASE Jumper drowned in Snake River

29-year-old Roger Butler, an experienced BASE jumper who once parachuted from the Stratosphere hotel tower in Las Vegas, apparently died Sunday, February 8, after jumping from the Hansen Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho and disappearing in the water. With his friends videotaping, Butler jumped from the west side of the bridge and glided toward the water without a hitch, but he ran into trouble after hitting the river. It wasn't immediately clear what happened, but shortly after landing in the water Butler and his chute disappeared below the surface. Neither has been seen since. With the help of a brand-new underwater camera, search and rescue teams from Jerome and Twin Falls counties continued searching the frigid Snake River Monday for signs of Butler and his parachute, but the search was called off as sundown neared. For more information check out:


The New Year started off with Skydiving Fatalities

The New Year started off with three skydiving fatalities in January. At the Rumbleseat Meet at Perris Valley Skydiving in California a competitor died on Januar 8 during the first round of the competition. James Martin spun in under a main-reserve entanglement. The competition has not been cancelled but three teams withdrew from the meet before the second round. Jim Wallace is assisting with the investigation.
Another skydiver died at Bay Area Skydiving in Byron, California on January 8. The deceased was not a regular at this DZ, and is believed to have been working on learning to sitfly all day. The jump occurred about a quarter of a mile north of the airport. The skydiver was found with his shoe entangled in the lines, with none of his handles pulled. The reserve opened on impact.
A British Army sergeant was killed on January 11 while jumping from an RAF Hercules at 3,000ft over Weston-on-the-Green, Oxfordshire, UK. An investigation is under way and a board of inquiry is to be set up by the Army. An MoD spokesman said that the accident was caused by a parachute malfunction, but could not elaborate further on the cause of the tragedy. The jump was part of a military training exercise.

180 Days Reserve Repack Cycle in Canada

Effective January 1, 2000 a change to the reserve inspection/repack cycle (BSR 2.2) has been approved by the Technical Safety Committee and the Board of Directors of CSPA.
This action was taken after extended discussions at committee level over the past several years. Although membership requests to extend the cycle have become more prevalent recently this was not the deciding factor in the T&SC decision.
These requests from the membership come in the wake of a number of nations in the forefront of skydiving activity having already moved to a 180 day inspection/repack cycle. The UK, one of those nations which has been on a 180 day cycle for some time, and maintains a comprehensive reporting system, says that during the time they have been on the six month cycle "none of the reports have suggested that any of the malfunctions or deployment problems were caused or influenced by extending the cycle".
Also, the Technical Committee of the Parachute Industry Association is recommending that the repack cycle be extended to at least 180 days on ram air parachutes. The PIA committee believes that the inspections and the maintenance are two different things. The best way to approach this issue is to draw a parallel to aircraft inspection and operation.
An aircraft may not be flown in the US (and presumably Canada) unless an appropriately certified individual has inspected the aircraft within the past year. However, the fact that the inspection has been signed off does not mean that the aircraft is airworthy or will continue to be airworthy. The regulations state that it is the aircraft operators sole responsibility to determine that the aircraft is airworthy, and he must do so before each and every flight. The date of the last annual inspection is only one of the items that must be checked. If the operator's preflight inspection indicates something is not airworthy, he must correct the problem if the regulations permit him to do so, or find a properly certified individual to correct the problem before he flies the aircraft.
The committee interprets the current parachute regulations in the same way. When a rigger has signed off a pack job, he is signing off that he did the inspection and pack job correctly and has completed any maintenance necessary at that time. He is not certifying that the user will not damage or destroy the parachute before the next repack is due. The sole responsibility for determining the airworthiness of the parachute system lies with the operator of that system, and a current repack sign-off is only one of the items that need to be checked.
In both the aircraft and parachute arenas, the time based inspections are a convenient time to do any maintenance, but those inspections are not the only time maintenance is appropriate. The actual need for maintenance is determined by the extent of use in between these inspections. Some parachute systems may need maintenance weekly if subjected to a high level of use or abuse, but that is separate from the need for repacking of the parachute purely based on elapsed time.
Although the CSPA T&SC does not necessarily agree with all of the theories put forth by the PIA Technical Committee, it does agree that users of parachuting equipment need to accept the responsibility that their personal parachuting equipment may require more frequent inspection and maintenance, especially if being used in a manner which would accelerate normal wear and tear to a level which could compromise the airworthiness of the system. This responsibility would also apply to scheduled maintenance of any AAD contained in that system.
Recent data from various canopy manufacturers indicates that modern parachute fabric may not be as hardy as previously thought. Parachutes made with very low porosity fabrics, (0 - 3cfm permeability) do experience some degradation in performance due to an increase in porosity caused by handling the fabric during repacking. In particular, for ram air parachutes, the change is quite noticeable, and can lead to the parachute eventually failing to meet TSO standards. Studies by both Precision Aerodynamics, Inc., makers of the Raven series of reserves, and Performance Designs, makers of PD reserves, indicate a degradation in canopy fabric which is elevated by the number of times handled during repacking.
Extensive testing has also been conducted by various military groups and they too have found that reserve parachutes do not necessarily stay "brand new" forever. For this reason the Canadian Military has moved to a 180 day cycle on some of its parachutes.

Barry McAuley - Chair CSPA Technical & Safety Committee

Skydiving Emergencies

The complete Chapter 4 on Skydiving Emergencies from "Parachuting: The Skydiver's Handbook" is now online at The Safety & Training section has been updated and extended. The three main sections are: Getting Started, Skydiving Students and Skydiving Emergencies.

For more safety issues see Page 2

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