Premature Deployment on Climb-Out
The heavy damage to the tail of this Cessna 182 occurred when a jumper climbed out onto the step to exit and his main canopy prematurely deployed. The inflating canopy pulled the jumper off the step and entangled with the horizontal stabilizer and elevator of the aircraft. The jumper’s canopy and the tail of the aircraft both sustained heavy damage before the main canopy came free a few seconds after the entanglement. The jumper was able to cut away his damaged main, deploy his reserve and land uneventfully. The pilot landed the aircraft safely, even though he had limited elevator and trim control after the collision.
Photo by Martin Myrtle
The jumper had checked his handles before the pilot opened the jump door but not afterward. After reviewing the circumstances, the DZ staff suspects that the jumper’s pilot chute became dislodged as the first two skydivers to exit moved past him toward the door.
Regardless of the type of airplane they are exiting from, jumpers should always check their leg straps, chest straps and main-deployment and emergency handles immediately before they climb out to ensure they are in place. Well-maintained equipment (including properly adjusted closing loops) and careful gear checks just before climb-out can help ensure that a jumper’s main and reserve containers remain secure during the exit from any airplane, be it a Cessna 182 or a CASA 212.
Pilots who are educated about equipment issues can also serve as a valuable extra set of eyes during jumpers’ climb-outs and exits. Many watchful 182 pilots will look at jumpers’ gear as the jumpers approach the door so that they can stop a jumper if they spot a problem.