2019 Summer BOD Meeting—Safety and Training Committee Issues Discussed
At the USPA Board of Directors’ summer meeting July 12-14 in Arlington, Virginia, the Safety & Training Committee discussed the following issues:
1. The committee discussed the fact that the Instructional Rating Manual included no clear guidance for tandem examiners in the field as to what ground preparations they needed to evaluate. Nor was there guidance regarding evaluation criteria for IE candidates to include in their ground evaluation prerequisites for the tandem examiner rating. The S&T Committee rectified this by adding verbiage to the IRM that the Integrated Student Program Category B ground training will be used for the evaluation standards for both tandem instructor candidates and examiner candidates. This criterion will also be added to the Tandem Instructor Proficiency Card. This action will help clarify and define what is required for the candidate and examiner candidate.
2. The committee discussed allowing USPA Coaches to train the ISP Canopy Dive Flows in Categories F-H. The committee recognized that Coaches already had to complete these very same exercises twice: once during their A-license programs and then again for the B-License Canopy Proficiency Card. The committee felt that Coaches understand these concepts are sufficiently prepared to teach students under the supervision of instructors. The changes will be made in the Coach section of the IRM and the four-page A-license card.
3. The committee discussed raising the number of courses a new IE needs to complete before endorsing new IEs. The committee felt that the system that is in place now is sufficient and may reconsider this later if needed.
4. The committee decided to change the tandem emergency-procedure decision altitude to 3,000 feet and the tandem container minimum opening altitude to 5,000 feet. This committee intends this measure to help accommodate IEs training in the field and to align USPA’s rules with those of the manufacturers. This action resulted in changing the Basic Safety Requirements’ minimum container opening altitudes, SIM Section 2-1. I. 1, for tandems to 5,000 feet instead of 4,500 feet.
5. The tandem examiners in the field have asked the committee to help define what exactly counts as a first-jump course (FJC) for the Tandem Instructor Examiner rating. There is no standard tandem FJC in the industry. To assist the instructor examiners and IE candidates, the committee decided that any method-specific FJC should count toward the 50-FJC rating requirement, including AFF, static-line, instructor-assisted deployment or solo student transition FJCs. These changes will be added to the IRM and disseminated during the Instructor Examiner Standardization Meetings.
6. Many instructor examiners in the field feel that the Category H evaluation does not adequately test the air skills of a coach candidate, and most IEs are using only the Category G air evaluations to test their candidates. The committee felt that the IRM should reflect what IEs in the field are using for the testing standards. The committee voted on removing Category H (swoop and dock) air evaluations and using only Category G Dive Plan 1, 2 or 3 for air evaluations during USPA Coach Courses. These changes will be made in the coach portion of the IRM.
7. The committee discussed making it mandatory for USPA Tandem IEs to supervise all 10 jumps during the tandem instructor rating courses. The committee felt that the program in place now is enough and wanted to leave options for the instructor examiners if resources or weather affected the course training schedule.
8. The committee discussed and deliberated the fact that there is some disparity and misconceptions with tandem instructors about where to have their medical certificates issued and where they can work. Their confusion was focused on the word “resides” in the BSR. To add clarity, the committee felt it needed to reword the BSR and add specific wording regarding where they can use their rating. The committee made the following changes to the Basic Safety Requirements:
A. Replace SIM Section 2-1.C.2 with the following: Any skydiver acting as tandem parachutist in command must possess a current FAA Third-Class Medical or equivalent medical certificate acceptable to USPA, or, if acting as tandem parachutist in command outside the United States or its territories or possessions, either a current FAA Third-Class Medical or equivalent medical certificate acceptable to USPA, or a current medical certificate recognized by the Civil Aviation Authority of the country where they will be exercising their tandem rating privileges.
B. Add the following as SIM Section 2-1.C.3: Any foreign national in the United States, or its territories or possessions, for the purpose of qualifying as a tandem parachutist in command, or to fulfill rating renewal or currency requirements, must be under the direct supervision of a Tandem Instructor Examiner and must possess a current FAA Third-Class Medical Certificate, or a current medical certificate recognized by the Civil Aviation Authority of the country where they will be exercising their tandem rating privileges.
9. S&T Director Ron Bell wanted to help the membership by outlining guidance on how to fill out incident reports. He developed an addition to SIM Section 5 to suit this requirement. The committee adopted this guidance as SIM Section 5-8. This document will be available for review on the USPA website as soon as possible.
10. The committee discussed clarifying SIM Section 2-1.F, the BSR related to drug and alcohol use, by adding a timeframe as to when a skydiver must stop consuming alcohol before they may skydive. They discussed and debated the common rule of eight hours. Even though they felt this was an important issue, the board decided not to change the BSR at this time.
11. The committee removed the requirement for tandem instructors to submit their medical every year when renewing their rating. Once the member sends in a copy of their original medical certificate, USPA will track the expiration and notify the member. With the new online rating renewal program, this requirement is obsolete.
12. USPA will soon have an online license testing portal where members can log in and take all the required tests. For licenses tests, the member will be able to take it up to three times in a single day until midnight Eastern time. The committee felt this was a suitable solution as opposed to having a waiting period, since there will be a large pool of license questions that will appear randomly each time someone takes the test. Members will still be able to take the written tests instead of the online version. USPA hopes to move all the license testing online by the beginning of next year.
13. To expedite requests regarding the Make-a-Wish Foundation and other tandem skydives for underage terminally ill students, the committee discussed rewording or adding to the age BSR to allow this process to move more quickly and efficiently. The committee added the following to the BSR to reflect this change:
Add a paragraph to SIM Section 2-1.D, paragraph 3: A waiver for tandem jumps may be issued to terminally ill persons under the age of 18, contingent on approval from manufacturers, who have age restrictions. The organizer of such jumps shall submit a waiver request form to the S&T Director and Chairman of the Safety and Training Committee for approval prior to such jumps.
14. The committee discussed the applicability of the BSRs for jumps outside the United States, its territories and possessions. To help add clarity for members and Foreign Affiliate DZs, the committee made the following changes to the BSRs:
A. Replace SIM Section 2-1.A.1 with the following: The Basic Safety Requirements apply to all jumps except those made under military orders, or those training personnel under military orders, and those made because of in-flight emergencies. USPA members must comply with the Basic Safety Requirements, and this will protect the best interests of both the participants and the general public.
B. Change SIM Section 2-1.B.1 to read: For skydives made within the U.S. and its territories and possessions, no skydive may be made in violation of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.
15. The committee finally completed the new PRO rating program, SIM Section 7-2, thanks to the task force that has been diligently working on this for the past three years (Luke Aikins, Jack Pyland, Jim Crouch and Jen Sharp). The significant changes that the committee developed and adopted are:
A. The PRO rating will now include a high-performance endorsement, which will be required for those jumping a wing loading above 1.5:1. To earn the HP endorsement, jumpers will need to make an additional five jumps involving specific canopy approaches and heading changes. The criteria to earn the standard PRO rating (1.5:1 wing loading or below) did not change much other than requiring a crosswind landing, and the landing area is now a rectangle.
B. The landing area for qualifying jumps to earn the rating changed from a 32-foot circle to a 40-foot long by 20-foot wide rectangle to accommodate today’s canopies.
C. All qualifying jumps must be videoed and submitted to the Regional Director with the candidate’s application.
D. Renewing the rating will require two qualifying jumps for both the standard PRO rating and the high-performance endorsement.
E. The new program will become effective on January 1, 2020. This effective date will allow USPA to develop a new proficiency card and make minor adjustments where needed.
F. Those who already hold a PRO rating and wish to earn the high-performance endorsement will need to complete the HP requirements at the next renewal after January 1, 2020.
SIM Section 7-2 reflecting the changes to the PRO rating will be available for review on the USPA website as soon as possible.