A Better Way

Letters | July 2019
Monday, July 1, 2019

The accident summary published in the April issue of Parachutist (“A Record Low—the 2018 Fatality Summary” by Jim Crouch) is of real benefit to the sport, allowing skydivers to assess the relative risk areas in the things they do. But I have a suggestion: I don’t understand why you’re reversing the standard aviation placement of numerator and denominator, and I would urge you to adopt that standard. In other words, rate is calculated by dividing the number of accidents by the exposure basis, be it units of 1,000 jumps or 100,000 jumps.

Because of this, the chart on page 38 reads backwards. The rising line actually indicates a sharply decreasing accident rate, but it presents illogically as the reverse. It also doesn’t give the reader the raw accidents per year, and I think it should. Calculated to the aviation standard, the accident rate of one per 254,000 is a fatality rate of 0.39 per 100,000 jumps. Compare that to the 1961 rate of 11.10 per 100,000. That’s more than a full order of magnitude difference and, as the article notes, it’s quite an achievement. It’s worth noting that it parallels a similar drop in accident rates in both the airline and general aviation spheres.

I suspect much of this has to do with improvements in equipment. Beginning in 1973 and through my first 300 jumps, I had two malfunctions. In the 3,000 since then, another two, a risk reduction that parallels the sport in general. I don’t pine for the old days. I wouldn’t jump a round again unless the plane was on fire. And maybe not even then.

Paul Bertorelli | D-24222
Nokomis, Florida

Editor’s note: Readers can find a chart showing fatalities per 1,000 jumps for each year since 2000 at uspa.org/find/faqs/safety.

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