Step-Through Malfunction

This student experienced a step-through malfunction, which occurs when a parachute container flips through the lines before being packed. The student elected to stay with the main canopy and steered it with the steering lines around the twisted risers, which could have led to the main becoming uncontrollable. Another jumper under canopy noticed the situation—which was not visible to staff on the ground—and landed as quickly as possible to inform the radio operator. By this point, the student was too low to safely cut away, so a more experienced instructor took over the radio. He coached the student through steering the canopy with the rear risers instead of the steering toggles and guided him to the main landing area. The student flared the canopy using the rear risers, performed a parachute landing fall and landed hard but without injury.

Photo by Laszlo Andacs.

Parachute packers and their supervising riggers must always ensure that the suspension lines are clear from the risers to the canopy and that the canopy is correctly oriented before packing it. All jumpers must be ready to initiate emergency procedures at or above their recommended decision altitudes (2,500 feet AGL for students and A-license holders; 1,800 feet AGL for B- through D-license holders) when their main canopies do not open or fly correctly.


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