What is the Cause of Most Skydiving Accidents Apex

Hard Openings and How to Avoid Them

A difficult-opening parachute is certainly not a new phenomenon. Skydivers have been dealing with hard openings throughout the history of sport parachuting—particularly during the early 1970s when the first ram-air main canopies and the various devices used to endeavour and tame their openings were developed. 1 of those was the slider, which greatly improved the quality and reliability of ram-air deployments. Although at that place have been some variations in size and construction, the basic concept and design of the ram-air parachute slider has gone unchanged for decades.

However, fifty-fifty after the slider came into play, hard-opening parachutes have continued to be a pretty consistent problem. Information technology’due south not unusual on any given weekend at the drop zone to hear at least one jumper complaining of a whacker of an opening while rubbing their neck. Thankfully, almost hard openings are tolerable, even though they can exist painful.

While the definition of a hard opening tin be subjective, the results of a hard-opening parachute can range anywhere from an uncomfortably quick opening that results in light bruising and soreness to a brutally hard, instant opening that results in astringent or even fatal injuries. Several factors determine the speed of an opening:

  • Parachute design and materials
  • Suspension line types
  • Condition of the parachute equipment
  • Pilot chute size and blueprint
  • Packing procedures
  • Torso position and deployment speed

The age and physical condition of the jumper besides comes into play. Equally people age, the homo trunk only does non hold upwardly well to a lot of physical abuse. A hard opening that is survivable for a xxx-twelvemonth-old jumper might be fatal for a 65-year-old.

Last year, the U.S. Parachute Association asked the Parachute Industry Association to look into the effect of hard-opening parachutes and provided the Technical Committee with some statistical information collected by USPA over the past 20 years:

  • A hard-opening main or reserve parachute acquired 18 known fatal accidents
  • 14 of those fatalities involved jumpers who were 59 years old and older
  • In 2019, 3 older jumpers died from hard openings. Based on the jump numbers for jumpers who are threescore and older, this means i fatality for every 133,056 jumps.

As far equally fatal accidents go, the chances of dying from a hard-opening parachute are pretty low, peculiarly for jumpers younger than threescore years old. Notwithstanding, there are a lot of jumpers who are seriously injured by hard openings every year. Because of a lack of reporting these non-fatal accidents over the years, there is no fashion to know exactly how many jumpers have been injured this way. Information technology is a safe bet that at that place are several if not dozens of difficult openings beyond the U.Due south. every weekend, and USPA needs that data. USPA has fabricated it easy to study fatal and not-fatal incidents with an online form at uspa.org/ir.

Canopies and Pause Lines

As parachute materials and designs inverse over the decades to amend flight characteristics and performance, the severity of hard openings when those parachutes did non deploy correctly likewise increased. Up until the early 1990s, near parachutes were constructed from depression-porosity ripstop nylon (usually called F-111), which is a fabric that allows some air to pass through merely becomes more porous as jumps accumulate. The openings tend to get slower and softer as the parachute ages, and the chances of a hard opening get pretty low. At least i manufacturer used to recommend cutting a hole in the slider to speed up the openings as the canopy aged!

Beginning in the early ‘90s, manufacturers began making parachutes from zero-porosity material (commonly called cypher-p). Zero-p has a blanket that prevents any air from passing through the material. Not simply did information technology improve the performance of the parachute, information technology also increased the lifespan. But it amplified the furnishings of a hard opening.

Break-line technology was too changing. Dacron, which is a brand proper noun for a polyester material manufactured by DuPont, offers some protection against a hard opening. The line stretches during deployment, acting as a shock absorber to lessen the impact on the torso in the event of an instant-opening parachute. But Dacron is a somewhat beefy line compared to the other types of suspension line available now. It too does not hold up well against wear from abrasion. Manufacturers began to move away from Dacron in favor of Spectra, Vectran and HMA (Loftier-Modulus Aramid), which are stronger and smaller in bore. Still, these lines do not stretch during the parachute deployment, creating what i container manufacturer has described as “steel cables” connecting the parachute to the risers. In the result of a hard opening with not-stretching suspension lines, the forces transmit straight to the harness (and jumper’south body).

Over a relatively small-scale number of jumps, Spectra interruption line begins to shrink due to heat generated by friction with the slider grommets as they slide downwards the lines during a deployment. The outer suspension lines and the brake lines heat upwardly more the inboard break lines, causing the parachute to lose its trim, bowing more than at the edges as the jump numbers accumulate. HMA and Vectran hold their trim very well simply can intermission without alert due to wear that is hard to discover. Each type of suspension line has pros and cons, so information technology is a practiced thought to discuss the issue with your rigger or the manufacturer when it comes time to order a new parachute or reline your current parachute. You lot might decide that a different line blazon is more suitable for your private needs.

Photo by Niklas Daniel.

Longtime Federal Aviation Assistants Master Rigger and Designated Parachute Rigger Examiner Kevin Gibson cautions that line trim and the type of pause line are important elements when it comes to parachute openings, saying, “During a PIA Symposium presentation, Rusty Vest of Operation Designs told a group that for reasons nobody understood (at least at that time), when a canopy works its way out of trim, it seems to exhibit problems suddenly. It’s not that it starts to open up harder and harder only instead seems fine and then, wham! I believe information technology’due south mayhap because an out-of-trim canopy is more than sensitive to poor slider placement.

“If the slider’s initial presentation to the air is off-residual, it will lose its inflation and sail downward the lines with very piddling elevate under the force of spanwise inflation. Keep in mind that the exterior lines take been foreshortened, creating a pronounced doming effect on the bottom skin. It is interesting that creating only a slight doming on the slider itself meters the opening by property the slider upwards against the stops and and so it comes downwardly more gradually.

“I don’t know, merely I would hypothesize that the same doming effect on the planform would increment the inflation forces that the slider is meant to ameliorate. A poorly packed slider or a shoulder-low opening could be all it takes to spill all the air out of the slider and forcefulness it downwardly the lines with piddling more than than the friction of the grommets to resist. There is as well the possibility of the slider interim similar a jib on a sailboat, where once one edge gets ahead of the opposite edge, a high-force per unit area/low-force per unit area status results and actually increases the slider’s downward progress. The bespeak is that nearly all canopies with modern lines demand relining at about 450-550 jumps, regardless of line type, just just for different reasons.”

Pilot Chutes and Deployment

Jean Potvin and the late Gary Peek of the Parks Higher Parachute Enquiry Grouping take researched parachute-opening characteristics and documented the testing they have performed over the years. A 2008 document at pcprg.com/sliderdragcancel.pdf provides a lot of useful data explaining why a parachute tin can occasionally and unexpectedly open very hard. The certificate theorizes that in rare cases, loftier-force per unit area airflow enters between the parachute and the slider during the deployment, resulting in a slider zinging downwards the intermission lines toward the risers at an accelerated rate, canceling any issue of the slider slowing downwards the inflation of the parachute. It is not unusual to find fire damage on the slider and suspension lines after a hard opening due to the loftier heat generated when the slider races downwards the suspension lines. Peek likewise experimented with using larger sliders to tame hard opening parachutes, which he documented at pcprg.com/hardop.htm.

Fernando Caralt, the managing director and pattern engineer with Icarus World, works carefully to develop canopies that provide smoothen and consistent openings under a wide range of conditions. But he notes that situations like opening at higher altitudes or faster deployment speeds can cause the canopy to open harder. He also notes that any deployment that is non symmetrical (every bit noted past Potvin and Peek) tin can lead to a difficult opening.

According to performancedesigns.com/docs/hrdopn.pdf released by Performance Designs in 2004, “The size, type of fabric, length of determent, noon length, mesh size, and aerodynamic shape all affect the deployment of the parachute. Some pilot chutes have too much drag at terminal velocity. This tin crusade these problems:

  • They slow the bagged canopy downward so speedily that the chance of line dump is increased.
  • When reaching line stretch, the jumper instantly accelerates the canopy back to his speed, since it is attached to him by the fully deployed lines.

“This is the first force the jumper feels at line stretch. (Moments subsequently, the canopy starts to fill with air and slows down again.) A pilot chute with too much drag will have slowed the bagged canopy downwards so much that the jumper will feel quite a strong force when the canopy reaches line stretch. The awning feels this jolt besides, and the pack job will exist forcefully spread apart by this force. This can cause harder openings, since the now-disorganized awning will inflate more than rapidly. In extreme cases, it may even open up hard enough to crusade structural damage to the parachute system, bodily injury or death.”

Symmetry likewise plays an of import role in the deployment sequence. The deployment bag must elevator out of the container squarely to help ensure that the line stows release evenly. Something as simple as dropping a shoulder during deployment or one riser cover that stays closed longer than the other during a deployment tin can result in uneven suspension lines as the deployment bag reaches line stretch. This tin can pb to line twists or difficult openings. It also helps to slow down every bit much every bit possible earlier the deployment. Altitude permitting, flattening out your torso to slow downward at the end of a runway before throwing the pilot chute can help to soften the opening of the parachute.

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Photo by Zach Lewis.

Packing the Parachute

Most industry experts concur that packing errors are largely the cause of nearly every catastrophic hard opening. 2 of the hard-opening fatalities documented since 2000 involved heavier jumpers who deployed reserve parachutes while falling at speeds in excess of 170 miles per hr. So non only were the reserves overloaded, they were likewise deployed at excessive speeds. The other 16 fatalities involved main-parachute deployments that were instantaneous.

While there are several key factors involved in a parachute deployment that assistance to ensure the parachute opens properly, packing the parachute according to the manufacturer’southward instructions is the all-time way to ensure information technology. T.K. Donle, chairman of the PIA Technical Committee, says that it is understood by industry experts that the method of line stowing is crucial to decision-making the deployment. “Given what the manufacture knows of parachute deployments in general, information technology’s clear that multiple causes exist for hard openings. Any one of them, or a combination of them, could yield a difficult opening.

  • Equal and constant suspension-line tension while packing. (If not, tension knots might occur, which can crusade severe opening shocks.)
  • Length of the line bights stowed on the bag. (If line bights are too curt and release prematurely, this can crusade line entanglements or line dump, which may lead to out-of-sequence deployments, meaning partial canopy inflation earlier total line stretch.)
  • Single and/or double-stowed line bights. (When line-bight extraction forces are too depression, all the problems listed above tin occur. When they’re too loftier, bag locks can occur, followed past a terminal reserve deployment.)
  • Line-bight extraction force: Follow manufacturer guidance if they provide it, though very few actually do. (Operation Designs promotes viii-12 pounds for solo systems.)”

The proper stowing of suspension lines helps ensure that the lines have fully extended before the deployment bag opens and the lesser of the parachute is exposed to the relative air current. Brutally difficult openings are usually acquired past a deployment that occurs out of sequence. Still photos and videos of deployments accept shown all of the line stows releasing as presently every bit the container flaps are open and the main bag begins to lift out of the pack tray, allowing the deployment bag to then be stripped off the awning while the interruption lines are slack. The result is a disorganized awning that inflates instantaneously. The forces applied to the harness and jumper during that type of deployment are usually pretty savage. Semi-stowless deployment bags, however, seem to be providing good results. The key to that design is there must exist secure locking stows on at least two bights of pause line that ensure the deployment bag remains securely around the canopy until the suspension lines accept fully extended.

Whether y’all utilize conventional line stowing, or a semi-stowless main bag, the suspension lines need to unstow in an orderly manner. The rubber bands must agree each line bight with plenty tension to allow for release at the correct time. Only when all of the stows have released and the suspension lines are fully extended should the main bag come off of the canopy to expose the slider to the relative wind in one case the tail is unwrapped from around the bottom of the parachute.

Once the lines unstow and the canopy clears the deployment bag, information technology is disquisitional that the slider has been placed correctly into the pack job. John LeBlanc, vice president of Performance Designs, has spent decades designing and testing parachutes. In the video titled “Difficult Openings: A Discussion with John LeBlanc,” he speaks quite a bit nearly the importance of slider placement: “In order for the slider to practice its job properly, information technology has to commencement in the right place. The nuts of that ways it has to exist right up against the slider stops. Also, it’s wise to quarter the slider, so that as the iv line groups start to carve up from ane another early on on in the deployment of the canopy, the slider is correct there in the middle, set to do its job.” The 16-minute video is well worth the lookout man and includes lots of peachy information. Yous tin observe the video at tinyurl.com/hardopenings.

Age and Physical Condition

Statistics point that historic period is a major gene in determining whether a severely difficult opening results in an injury or a fatality. Studies in crumbling show that the human body changes with age at the molecular level, resulting in organs and connective tissue that get more than rigid and stiff. According to the U.Due south. National Library of Medicine, “Equally aging continues, waste products build upwards in tissue. A fatty brownish pigment called lipofuscin collects in many tissues, as practice other fatty substances. Connective tissue changes, becoming more stiff. This makes the organs, claret vessels and airways more rigid. Cell membranes alter, then many tissues have more trouble getting oxygen and nutrients and removing carbon dioxide and other wastes.”

One potential cause of a fatality due to a hard opening is a torn aorta. Historic period plays a large part in whether the aorta can withstand the blunt-force trauma inflicted on the body during a difficult opening. The dynamics of a person experiencing a torn aorta from an auto accident are similar: The trunk is abruptly stopped—by the seat belt in a automobile or the harness during a parachute jump—while traveling at speed, but the internal organs keep moving. If the flexibility of the aorta has deteriorated with historic period, the consequence tin can be fatal. Simply put, older jumpers have a greater gamble of experiencing fatal injuries in the event of a hard opening. It is certainly something that older jumpers need to consider.

At best, a hard-opening parachute can make for a sore body and an unhappy jumper. At worst, it can crusade a serious injury or fatality. At that place is a lot to consider when it comes to fugitive a hard opening. Simply proper maintenance and correct packing procedures are ii of the biggest factors that the jumper can control when it comes to avoiding a whacker of an opening. It will help y’all enjoy a long and happy skydiving life without the need of Ibuprofen and cervix massages.

About the Author

In addition to losing several friends to fatal difficult openings, Jim Crouch, D-16969, has had his own share, ii of which inverse his life significantly. A hard opening in 1995 resulted in an undetected malfunctioned steering line on i side of the parachute, and he crushed a vertebra from the hard landing. In 1998, another hard opening broke his cervix, resulting in a scary several seconds of paralysis from the cervix downward. (Luckily, movement and feeling came back later on a few seconds and the landing was uneventful.) Both difficult openings occurred while wearing 15-pound camera helmets, which amplified the forces put on his cervix and spine. Today, he needs simply to turn his caput for the snapping and popping noises to remind him of those incidents.

What is the Cause of Most Skydiving Accidents

12 Things You Need to Know If Skydiving Is on Your Bucket List

Nervous to accept the plunge? Our expert tips will guide you through the entire skydive, from scheduling the jump to the adrenaline rush after y’all land.

iStock/2happy

Skydiving is actually a sport

Skydiving is an activity that’s virtually synonymous with bucket lists. Only earlier you enter the wonderful earth of skydiving, sympathise that jumping out of a perfectly good airplane doesn’t accept to be a once-in-a-lifetime thrill. “People think that with skydiving, you but go practise one jump,” says Nancy Koreen, manager of sport promotion at the United States Parachute Association. “They don’t realize that it’s a whole sport that people do every week as a hobby and a lifestyle.” The number of annual skydives in America has been growing steadily since 2007, with an estimated 4.2 million jumps last year alone. Avant-garde jumpers tin can even compete in all sorts of skydiving competitions. But permit’s non get ahead of ourselves.

iStock/ti-ja

Here’southward the basic skydiving lingo you lot should know

Drop zone:
The skydiving center where yous’ll make your jump. It may wait similar nothing more than a big grassy field with a random airplane hangar, but all USPA-affiliated drop zones are legit (there are 238 in America to cull from).
One-piece:
The less-than-stylish full body accommodate yous may wear over your clothes while skydiving. Jumpsuits can help control how fast y’all’re falling and protect you from the wind in colder months. If you leap in the summer, you lot may not need to clothing 1.
Liability release:
The form you sign before you lot jump that outlines potential risks and safety concerns. More on that later.
Freefall:
The best role of your jump, falling through the sky earlier your canopy opens.
Canopy:
A fancier name for your parachute.

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Anyone can skydive

Are you a human being over eighteen years old? Ta-da! Yous’re qualified to go skydiving. There are a few exceptions (pregnant women and people with center problems should stay on the ground, and drop zones have certain weight restrictions), but your age, meridian, occupation, or whatever other demographic factor won’t hold you back. “There are ways to accept people who are paralyzed, disabled, even who accept lost limbs, just with special precautions and adjustments to the equipment,” Koreen says. Basically, you don’t accept much of an excuse not to endeavor skydiving.

iStock/Ryhor-Bruyeu

You can jump wearing a parachute or without i

Okay, it’s not quite as farthermost as that. Beginners tin choose from 2 types of skydiving: accelerated freefall (AFF) or tandem freefall. In an AFF jump, y’all open the parachute by yourself and land by yourself. But earlier you even put on the parachute, yous need to complete a footing course that tin can terminal several hours. While y’all’re in the air, two instructors hold onto your harness to requite instructions and help with stability before you lot deploy. Most outset-timers choose tandem, where you lot’re strapped to an teacher who opens the parachute and lands for both of you. There’s no extensive coursework or physical prep beforehand. All y’all have to do is enjoy the view. Then technically, you really are jumping without wearing a parachute. Y’all’re but attached to someone who is.

iStock/Paolo-Cipriani

Your chances of getting hurt are ridiculously low

Horror stories of parachutes not opening are what proceed nigh people from even considering skydiving, simply they rarely know the stats behind those numbers. Out of the iv.ii million jumps in 2015, 21 were fatalities. That’s 0.005 fatalities per ane,000 jumps, and the rate of tandem fatalities is fifty-fifty lower. “Every skydiver has two parachutes,” Koreen explains. “If the first ane malfunctions, there’s a fill-in, and skydivers go through a lot of training to acquire how to handle emergency procedures. Ninety-ix per centum of skydiving accidents are human error, where the skydiver does something wrong. It’s not necessarily an equipment failure.” Plus, tandem instructors go through extensive training and certification programs to give y’all the best—and safest—ride of your life. “It is in such a controlled environment with such close supervision,” she says. “Your chances of getting hurt or killed are way higher driving to the drib zone than they are jumping out of a plane.” These tips can help you conquer your fear of flight.

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It’southward a chip of an investment

Prices vary betwixt drop zones, simply tandem skydives tend to run from $200-$275, according to USPA, and AFF jumps are around $300, plus additional costs for photo and video packages. Some drib zones offer cheaper rates on weekdays and early morning jumps, for higher students or armed services personnel, and for groups. The bigger the group, the bigger the discount. Ever schedule jumps in accelerate, likewise. It costs less than paying full toll the day of, and y’all’re guaranteed a spot on the plane.

iStock/Gajus

You’ll get cozy on the plane ride upwardly

Subsequently watching an advisory video and signing waivers, yous’ll run into your tandem instructor, put on your harness, and board the aircraft version of a clown auto. On the ride upwards, your teacher will put goggles on you and strap your harness to his. Information technology may feel piffling besides close for comfort—you’re sitting in someone else’due south lap—but at least you know at that place’southward no way you ii could be separated on the fashion down.

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The most nervus-wracking role of skydiving? The anticipation

You’re falling out of a moving airplane. That’due south not natural. That’s pretty terrifying. And you probably won’t be able to terminate thinking most that during the xv minutes it takes your plane to reach the proper distance (typically between 10,000 and 13,000 feet from the basis). Information technology might actually exist apropos if you weren’t at least a little nervous. The scariest office is definitely the few seconds you spend sitting on the edge of the aeroplane. Thankfully, information technology doesn’t last longer than a few seconds. Here’due south how to outsmart your nerves and hide your torso’s most embarrassing nervous reactions.

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The freefall isn’t like a roller coaster

I am no adrenaline junkie. I tin can’t cross a street without whipping my head back and forth looking for oncoming cars, even when the walk sign is on. But freefalling through the air is one of the most peaceful experiences I’ll ever have. At that place’south no stomach driblet like on a roller coaster. Honestly, it just feels like a bunch of cold air current hitting your face while the footing slowly gets bigger beneath you. The speed at which you fall can vary anywhere between 100 and 200 miles per hour. Koreen says it all depends on your weight and size, what you’re wearing, and how you’re positioned in the air.

iStock/vuk8691

Make the almost of your fourth dimension in the air

Freefalls are just virtually 45 to 60 seconds long, and then your canopy opens. You are immune to ask for a longer freefall beforehand, if you’re up for it. The entire jump—from the time you exit the airplane to the moment you lot’ve reached the ground—only lasts about five minutes, and then take in your surroundings as you coast to the ground. Some instructors will inquire if yous want a few tricks during the awning flight, like spinning around or moving side to side. Say yes. You can ever ask to finish if the sensations are too intense.

iStock/SergBob

The infinitesimal you land, you’ll desire to go skydiving again

You never fully recover from the blitz of adrenaline and ecstasy that skydiving brings considering it ever leaves you wanting more. Yous’ll probably annoy, shock, and even scare people by talking most it so much. Yous may fifty-fifty include information technology as an interest on your resume. But skydiving can also stir up a life-irresolute confidence in many jumpers. “For a lot of people, it makes them feel like other traumas or problems in their life are pocket-sized,” Koreen says. “Information technology gives people confidence like, ‘If I can jump out of a plane, I can handle this relationship problem or this job problem’ or other challenges in their lives.” Hither’south how to boost your confidence, co-ordinate to science.

iStock/vuk8691

If you’re hooked, consider getting a license

Almost 33,000 people in the US have at to the lowest degree one USPA skydiving license, so they tin can jump at any drop zone by themselves whenever they similar. Sound intriguing? The program for an A license (the outset of iv licenses) consists of 25 AFF jumps, each covering a different skill and technique. It’s however another way to become part of the diverse and tight-knit community of skydivers—and cross another item off your bucket list.

What is the Cause of Most Skydiving Accidents Apex

Hard Openings and How to Avoid Them

A difficult-opening parachute is certainly not a new phenomenon. Skydivers have been dealing with hard openings throughout the history of sport parachuting—particularly during the early 1970s when the first ram-air main canopies and the various devices used to endeavour and tame their openings were developed. 1 of those was the slider, which greatly improved the quality and reliability of ram-air deployments. Although at that place have been some variations in size and construction, the basic concept and design of the ram-air parachute slider has gone unchanged for decades.

However, fifty-fifty after the slider came into play, hard-opening parachutes have continued to be a pretty consistent problem. Information technology’due south not unusual on any given weekend at the drop zone to hear at least one jumper complaining of a whacker of an opening while rubbing their neck. Thankfully, almost hard openings are tolerable, even though they can exist painful.

While the definition of a hard opening tin be subjective, the results of a hard-opening parachute can range anywhere from an uncomfortably quick opening that results in light bruising and soreness to a brutally hard, instant opening that results in astringent or even fatal injuries. Several factors determine the speed of an opening:

  • Parachute design and materials
  • Suspension line types
  • Condition of the parachute equipment
  • Pilot chute size and blueprint
  • Packing procedures
  • Torso position and deployment speed

The age and physical condition of the jumper besides comes into play. Equally people age, the homo trunk only does non hold upwardly well to a lot of physical abuse. A hard opening that is survivable for a xxx-twelvemonth-old jumper might be fatal for a 65-year-old.

Last year, the U.S. Parachute Association asked the Parachute Industry Association to look into the effect of hard-opening parachutes and provided the Technical Committee with some statistical information collected by USPA over the past 20 years:

  • A hard-opening main or reserve parachute acquired 18 known fatal accidents
  • 14 of those fatalities involved jumpers who were 59 years old and older
  • In 2019, 3 older jumpers died from hard openings. Based on the jump numbers for jumpers who are threescore and older, this means i fatality for every 133,056 jumps.

As far equally fatal accidents go, the chances of dying from a hard-opening parachute are pretty low, peculiarly for jumpers younger than threescore years old. Notwithstanding, there are a lot of jumpers who are seriously injured by hard openings every year. Because of a lack of reporting these non-fatal accidents over the years, there is no fashion to know exactly how many jumpers have been injured this way. Information technology is a safe bet that at that place are several if not dozens of difficult openings beyond the U.Due south. every weekend, and USPA needs that data. USPA has fabricated it easy to study fatal and not-fatal incidents with an online form at uspa.org/ir.

Canopies and Pause Lines

As parachute materials and designs inverse over the decades to amend flight characteristics and performance, the severity of hard openings when those parachutes did non deploy correctly likewise increased. Up until the early 1990s, near parachutes were constructed from depression-porosity ripstop nylon (usually called F-111), which is a fabric that allows some air to pass through merely becomes more porous as jumps accumulate. The openings tend to get slower and softer as the parachute ages, and the chances of a hard opening get pretty low. At least i manufacturer used to recommend cutting a hole in the slider to speed up the openings as the canopy aged!

Beginning in the early ‘90s, manufacturers began making parachutes from zero-porosity material (commonly called cypher-p). Zero-p has a blanket that prevents any air from passing through the material. Not simply did information technology improve the performance of the parachute, information technology also increased the lifespan. But it amplified the furnishings of a hard opening.

Break-line technology was too changing. Dacron, which is a brand proper noun for a polyester material manufactured by DuPont, offers some protection against a hard opening. The line stretches during deployment, acting as a shock absorber to lessen the impact on the torso in the event of an instant-opening parachute. But Dacron is a somewhat beefy line compared to the other types of suspension line available now. It too does not hold up well against wear from abrasion. Manufacturers began to move away from Dacron in favor of Spectra, Vectran and HMA (Loftier-Modulus Aramid), which are stronger and smaller in bore. Still, these lines do not stretch during the parachute deployment, creating what i container manufacturer has described as “steel cables” connecting the parachute to the risers. In the result of a hard opening with not-stretching suspension lines, the forces transmit straight to the harness (and jumper’south body).

Over a relatively small-scale number of jumps, Spectra interruption line begins to shrink due to heat generated by friction with the slider grommets as they slide downwards the lines during a deployment. The outer suspension lines and the brake lines heat upwardly more the inboard break lines, causing the parachute to lose its trim, bowing more than at the edges as the jump numbers accumulate. HMA and Vectran hold their trim very well simply can intermission without alert due to wear that is hard to discover. Each type of suspension line has pros and cons, so information technology is a practiced thought to discuss the issue with your rigger or the manufacturer when it comes time to order a new parachute or reline your current parachute. You lot might decide that a different line blazon is more suitable for your private needs.

Photo by Niklas Daniel.

Longtime Federal Aviation Assistants Master Rigger and Designated Parachute Rigger Examiner Kevin Gibson cautions that line trim and the type of pause line are important elements when it comes to parachute openings, saying, “During a PIA Symposium presentation, Rusty Vest of Operation Designs told a group that for reasons nobody understood (at least at that time), when a canopy works its way out of trim, it seems to exhibit problems suddenly. It’s not that it starts to open up harder and harder only instead seems fine and then, wham! I believe information technology’due south mayhap because an out-of-trim canopy is more than sensitive to poor slider placement.

“If the slider’s initial presentation to the air is off-residual, it will lose its inflation and sail downward the lines with very piddling elevate under the force of spanwise inflation. Keep in mind that the exterior lines take been foreshortened, creating a pronounced doming effect on the bottom skin. It is interesting that creating only a slight doming on the slider itself meters the opening by property the slider upwards against the stops and and so it comes downwardly more gradually.

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“I don’t know, merely I would hypothesize that the same doming effect on the planform would increment the inflation forces that the slider is meant to ameliorate. A poorly packed slider or a shoulder-low opening could be all it takes to spill all the air out of the slider and forcefulness it downwardly the lines with piddling more than than the friction of the grommets to resist. There is as well the possibility of the slider interim similar a jib on a sailboat, where once one edge gets ahead of the opposite edge, a high-force per unit area/low-force per unit area status results and actually increases the slider’s downward progress. The bespeak is that nearly all canopies with modern lines demand relining at about 450-550 jumps, regardless of line type, just just for different reasons.”

Pilot Chutes and Deployment

Jean Potvin and the late Gary Peek of the Parks Higher Parachute Enquiry Grouping take researched parachute-opening characteristics and documented the testing they have performed over the years. A 2008 document at pcprg.com/sliderdragcancel.pdf provides a lot of useful data explaining why a parachute tin can occasionally and unexpectedly open very hard. The certificate theorizes that in rare cases, loftier-force per unit area airflow enters between the parachute and the slider during the deployment, resulting in a slider zinging downwards the intermission lines toward the risers at an accelerated rate, canceling any issue of the slider slowing downwards the inflation of the parachute. It is not unusual to find fire damage on the slider and suspension lines after a hard opening due to the loftier heat generated when the slider races downwards the suspension lines. Peek likewise experimented with using larger sliders to tame hard opening parachutes, which he documented at pcprg.com/hardop.htm.

Fernando Caralt, the managing director and pattern engineer with Icarus World, works carefully to develop canopies that provide smoothen and consistent openings under a wide range of conditions. But he notes that situations like opening at higher altitudes or faster deployment speeds can cause the canopy to open harder. He also notes that any deployment that is non symmetrical (every bit noted past Potvin and Peek) tin can lead to a difficult opening.

According to performancedesigns.com/docs/hrdopn.pdf released by Performance Designs in 2004, “The size, type of fabric, length of determent, noon length, mesh size, and aerodynamic shape all affect the deployment of the parachute. Some pilot chutes have too much drag at terminal velocity. This tin crusade these problems:

  • They slow the bagged canopy downward so speedily that the chance of line dump is increased.
  • When reaching line stretch, the jumper instantly accelerates the canopy back to his speed, since it is attached to him by the fully deployed lines.

“This is the first force the jumper feels at line stretch. (Moments subsequently, the canopy starts to fill with air and slows down again.) A pilot chute with too much drag will have slowed the bagged canopy downwards so much that the jumper will feel quite a strong force when the canopy reaches line stretch. The awning feels this jolt besides, and the pack job will exist forcefully spread apart by this force. This can cause harder openings, since the now-disorganized awning will inflate more than rapidly. In extreme cases, it may even open up hard enough to crusade structural damage to the parachute system, bodily injury or death.”

Symmetry likewise plays an of import role in the deployment sequence. The deployment bag must elevator out of the container squarely to help ensure that the line stows release evenly. Something as simple as dropping a shoulder during deployment or one riser cover that stays closed longer than the other during a deployment tin can result in uneven suspension lines as the deployment bag reaches line stretch. This tin can pb to line twists or difficult openings. It also helps to slow down every bit much every bit possible earlier the deployment. Altitude permitting, flattening out your torso to slow downward at the end of a runway before throwing the pilot chute can help to soften the opening of the parachute.

Photo by Zach Lewis.

Packing the Parachute

Most industry experts concur that packing errors are largely the cause of nearly every catastrophic hard opening. 2 of the hard-opening fatalities documented since 2000 involved heavier jumpers who deployed reserve parachutes while falling at speeds in excess of 170 miles per hr. So non only were the reserves overloaded, they were likewise deployed at excessive speeds. The other 16 fatalities involved main-parachute deployments that were instantaneous.

While there are several key factors involved in a parachute deployment that assistance to ensure the parachute opens properly, packing the parachute according to the manufacturer’southward instructions is the all-time way to ensure information technology. T.K. Donle, chairman of the PIA Technical Committee, says that it is understood by industry experts that the method of line stowing is crucial to decision-making the deployment. “Given what the manufacture knows of parachute deployments in general, information technology’s clear that multiple causes exist for hard openings. Any one of them, or a combination of them, could yield a difficult opening.

  • Equal and constant suspension-line tension while packing. (If not, tension knots might occur, which can crusade severe opening shocks.)
  • Length of the line bights stowed on the bag. (If line bights are too curt and release prematurely, this can crusade line entanglements or line dump, which may lead to out-of-sequence deployments, meaning partial canopy inflation earlier total line stretch.)
  • Single and/or double-stowed line bights. (When line-bight extraction forces are too depression, all the problems listed above tin occur. When they’re too loftier, bag locks can occur, followed past a terminal reserve deployment.)
  • Line-bight extraction force: Follow manufacturer guidance if they provide it, though very few actually do. (Operation Designs promotes viii-12 pounds for solo systems.)”

The proper stowing of suspension lines helps ensure that the lines have fully extended before the deployment bag opens and the lesser of the parachute is exposed to the relative air current. Brutally difficult openings are usually acquired past a deployment that occurs out of sequence. Still photos and videos of deployments accept shown all of the line stows releasing as presently every bit the container flaps are open and the main bag begins to lift out of the pack tray, allowing the deployment bag to then be stripped off the awning while the interruption lines are slack. The result is a disorganized awning that inflates instantaneously. The forces applied to the harness and jumper during that type of deployment are usually pretty savage. Semi-stowless deployment bags, however, seem to be providing good results. The key to that design is there must exist secure locking stows on at least two bights of pause line that ensure the deployment bag remains securely around the canopy until the suspension lines accept fully extended.

Whether y’all utilize conventional line stowing, or a semi-stowless main bag, the suspension lines need to unstow in an orderly manner. The rubber bands must agree each line bight with plenty tension to allow for release at the correct time. Only when all of the stows have released and the suspension lines are fully extended should the main bag come off of the canopy to expose the slider to the relative wind in one case the tail is unwrapped from around the bottom of the parachute.

Once the lines unstow and the canopy clears the deployment bag, information technology is disquisitional that the slider has been placed correctly into the pack job. John LeBlanc, vice president of Performance Designs, has spent decades designing and testing parachutes. In the video titled “Difficult Openings: A Discussion with John LeBlanc,” he speaks quite a bit nearly the importance of slider placement: “In order for the slider to practice its job properly, information technology has to commencement in the right place. The nuts of that ways it has to exist right up against the slider stops. Also, it’s wise to quarter the slider, so that as the iv line groups start to carve up from ane another early on on in the deployment of the canopy, the slider is correct there in the middle, set to do its job.” The 16-minute video is well worth the lookout man and includes lots of peachy information. Yous tin observe the video at tinyurl.com/hardopenings.

Age and Physical Condition

Statistics point that historic period is a major gene in determining whether a severely difficult opening results in an injury or a fatality. Studies in crumbling show that the human body changes with age at the molecular level, resulting in organs and connective tissue that get more than rigid and stiff. According to the U.Due south. National Library of Medicine, “Equally aging continues, waste products build upwards in tissue. A fatty brownish pigment called lipofuscin collects in many tissues, as practice other fatty substances. Connective tissue changes, becoming more stiff. This makes the organs, claret vessels and airways more rigid. Cell membranes alter, then many tissues have more trouble getting oxygen and nutrients and removing carbon dioxide and other wastes.”

One potential cause of a fatality due to a hard opening is a torn aorta. Historic period plays a large part in whether the aorta can withstand the blunt-force trauma inflicted on the body during a difficult opening. The dynamics of a person experiencing a torn aorta from an auto accident are similar: The trunk is abruptly stopped—by the seat belt in a automobile or the harness during a parachute jump—while traveling at speed, but the internal organs keep moving. If the flexibility of the aorta has deteriorated with historic period, the consequence tin can be fatal. Simply put, older jumpers have a greater gamble of experiencing fatal injuries in the event of a hard opening. It is certainly something that older jumpers need to consider.

At best, a hard-opening parachute can make for a sore body and an unhappy jumper. At worst, it can crusade a serious injury or fatality. At that place is a lot to consider when it comes to fugitive a hard opening. Simply proper maintenance and correct packing procedures are ii of the biggest factors that the jumper can control when it comes to avoiding a whacker of an opening. It will help y’all enjoy a long and happy skydiving life without the need of Ibuprofen and cervix massages.

About the Author

In addition to losing several friends to fatal difficult openings, Jim Crouch, D-16969, has had his own share, ii of which inverse his life significantly. A hard opening in 1995 resulted in an undetected malfunctioned steering line on i side of the parachute, and he crushed a vertebra from the hard landing. In 1998, another hard opening broke his cervix, resulting in a scary several seconds of paralysis from the cervix downward. (Luckily, movement and feeling came back later on a few seconds and the landing was uneventful.) Both difficult openings occurred while wearing 15-pound camera helmets, which amplified the forces put on his cervix and spine. Today, he needs simply to turn his caput for the snapping and popping noises to remind him of those incidents.

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