Keep an Eye Out

Closing-Loop Maintenance

While changing out a slightly frayed closing loop, an A-licensed jumper discovered that the knot on his main closing loop was pulling through the washer. This closing loop came with the jumper’s new custom rig, and the manufacturer had installed it. The consequences of a loop pulling through a washer range from a horseshoe malfunction to a premature deployment while climbing out of the aircraft. more »

Line Stows

A videographer captured this image showing one bight of suspension line releasing early during the deployment of a tandem main canopy. The line-stow band may have broken as the main bag lifted out of the container, or the bight of line may have been too short for the stow to hold it securely during the deployment sequence. This type of packing error can lead to hard openings and malfunctions, although in this case, the main canopy opened without incident. Following the manufacturer’s instructions for packing and maintenance can help ensure proper main canopy deployment. more »

Shifting Deployment Handles

It’s common to see skydivers, regardless of their experience levels, touching their main deployment and emergency handles on their rigs while on the ground waiting for the plane or during the ride to altitude. This is a great routine to incorporate into your everyday procedures as you prepare to jump, but it’s also something you should occasionally do in freefall and under canopy (generally, just before you release your brakes and after you have ensured you have clear airspace). In freefall or under canopy, your body will change position in the harness, and your handles will probably be higher or wider on your torso than they were when you were on the ground. Knowing where to locate your handles in freefall or under canopy can take some of the guesswork out of your emergency procedures when you need to perform them. When every second counts, it could save time and possibly even your life. more »

Power Lines

This student, who had seven jumps, found himself in power lines after running into them while attempting to land his parachute. He waited for assistance as stated in Skydiver’s Information Manual Section 5-1. The power company got him down safely but had to cut a few of the canopy’s suspension lines to do so. more »

Stabilizer Damage

During normal use, a slider will repeatedly rub against the washers that are inside the slider stops and create friction. Over time, this friction can wear the stabilizer fabric, eventually creating holes that can expose the metal washers inside. These washers then wear on the slider grommets, which can create burrs on the grommets that will damage the canopy’s suspension lines during every deployment. In a worst-case scenario, the washer could fall out and allow the slider to trap part of the stabilizer in one of its grommets. This would likely cause a streamer malfunction, as the slider would be stuck all the way at the top of the lines. more »

Bent Reserve Pin

While visiting a drop zone that was not his home DZ, a jumper gave his equipment to a rigger for a routine inspection and repack. When performing the inspection, the rigger noticed some problems with the reserve pin. The pin, which should be straight, had a noticeable bend, as well as numerous abrasions along its shaft and on its eye. It was also difficult to move, even side to side. The investigating rigger suspected that the bend was from the previous rigger using a positive-leverage device that allowed him to use an excessive amount of force when tightening the closing loop. The scratches on the eye were likely due to the previous rigger using pliers in order to get a better grip on the pin for insertion. The scratches along the shaft may have been due to the use of pliers or from the pin rubbing against the grommet on which it sat. more »

Reserve Seal

During a routine pre-jump gear check for another jumper, a Federal Aviation Administration Senior Rigger discovered an error with the reserve seal on the container. On closer inspection, this rigger discovered that the person who had packed the reserve, also an FAA Senior Rigger, had used two passes of red 4.5-pound seal thread instead of the one pass specified by the rig manufacturer’s instructions. He further observed that the rigger who had packed the reserve had passed the seal thread through the reserve closing loop and not around the outside of it as the instructions called for. more »

Line Over

This tandem pair experienced a line-over malfunction during main canopy deployment. Jumpers can avoid this type of malfunction by taking care that the suspension and steering lines remain centered while they are packing. During a PRO pack of any canopy—sport or tandem—the lines will tend to move away from the center and toward the sides and nose of the canopy when the packer wraps the tail. This increases the risk of the lines looping around part of the canopy. To prevent this from causing a line-over malfunction, the packer should feel inside the canopy after wrapping the tail to make sure the lines are still centered and move them back toward the center if necessary. more »

Open Container

During a 33-jumper formation load from a Skyvan and Twin Otter, a jumper bumped his container while exiting the Skyvan. The bump knocked loose his main closing pin, allowing the main container to open. The main bag remained in place throughout the entire skydive, and very few jumpers on the load even noticed the problem. Because the formation was large, still building and two videographers were above it, those who noticed the open container decided not to interfere and risk a collision by deploying the jumper’s main canopy. At breakoff time, the jumper tracked away and deployed uneventfully. The jumper himself did not know that his container was open during freefall until someone told him about it after the jump. more »

Closing-Loop Length

Following a routine reserve repack, a senior rigger closed the main container and found that the main closing loop was more than two inches too long. The long loop made it easy to close the container and insert the curved closing pin, but it also allowed the main container flaps to spread apart. This meant there was almost no tension on the closing pin, which could easily have led to a horseshoe malfunction or premature deployment. more »