Excess Steering Line

Q:

 

The design of my risers does not include a method for stowing the excess steering line. Should I replace my risers?

 

A:For unknown reasons, in the early- to mid-2000s at least one manufacturer sold containers equipped with risers that did not include a system for stowing the excess steering line. When jumpers stow the brakes on these risers, they have to leave a large loop of steering line hanging off the sides. Additionally, some jumpers have purposely begun to stow their brakes this way even though their risers are equipped with systems for neatly tucking away the excess line. While this may be a quicker way to pack, it creates unnecessary risk.

Many jumpers have reported malfunctions and knotted steering lines after they tried to release their brakes but instead pulled their toggles through the large loops of excess line. This disabled their steering lines by locking them to the guide rings on the backs of the risers.

Unstowed excess line has also caused many cases of premature brake release. This occurs when the loop of excess line catches on the side of the container during deployment and pulls the toggle loose, releasing the trapped brake line. The release of one brake on deployment has been the initiating factor in several fatal accidents. Since a brake release has the potential to lead to a fatal accident, jumpers should do everything possible to make sure their brake systems work properly and that their toggles stay tightly stowed on their risers with the excess brake line neatly tucked away.

If you have a set of risers that does not include a system to stow the excess line, you should replace it with a new set from the manufacturer (all of the latest designs incorporate a stow system) or check with an FAA Master Rigger to see if he can retrofit a stow system to your existing pair. Some jumpers have devised ways to stow the excess line using the toggles to hold the line in place. Although this is better than doing nothing, replacing or retrofitting the risers are better options.

—Jim Crouch | D-16979
USPA Director of Safety & Training and FAA Senior Rigger

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