Avoiding a Pilot-Chute-in-Tow Malfunction
Since originally addressing the issue in the November 2009 edition of Parachutist (“Safety Check—A Pilot-Chute-in-Tow Malfunction” by Jim Crouch), USPA has received two more reports of jumpers who experienced the malfunction when their main closing pins pierced their bridles as they attempted to deploy, locking their containers shut. In all four of the reported cases, the jumpers successfully deployed their reserves and landed uneventfully.
Proper routing of the bridle and main closing pin can help jumpers avoid this malfunction (see photos 2 and 3). However, USPA has asked the Parachute Industry Association to look into the matter to determine whether container manufacturers need to make any material or design changes. This malfunction has now occurred on at least three different containers: a United Parachute Technologies Vector 3 Micron, a Velocity Sports Equipment Infinity and an Aerodyne Research Icon.
In this photo of the most recent container-lock malfunction reported to USPA, the closing pin pierces the pilot-chute bridle, creating a pilot-chute-in-tow. Photo by Mark Lancaster.
This photo demonstrates a correct configuration of bridle and pin. Note that the pin is visible and that there is some slack in the bridle above it.
A configuration like this can cause the malfunction shown in photo 1 since the bridle lays directly on top of the pin and since there isn't any slack in the bridle above the pin.