Author Archive

180-Day Repack Answers

December 10, 2008

The new FAA rule implementing 180-day main and reserve repack intervals takes effect December 19, 2008. In consultation with the FAA and the Parachute Industry Association, USPA has developed answers to some obvious questions.

Q: Is there any change prior to December 19, 2008?
A: No, up until that date, the reserve and main must have been packed within the previous 120 days.

Q: What happens on December 19, 2008?
A: Beginning on that date, you can jump a rig in which the reserve and main have been packed within the previous 180 days.

Q: Even if my reserve pack job had previously expired?
A: Only to a point. Beginning December 19, count back 180 days—if the reserve was packed within those 180 days, it is legal to jump.

Q: What about my AAD?
A: Good question. FARs 105.43 and 105.45 hold the “person” (the skydiver and the tandem instructor) responsible for ensuring that an AAD, if installed, has been “maintained in accordance with manufacturer instructions.” You can only comply with that regulation if you know the maintenance schedule and service requirements of that AAD. Do you know when the battery must be replaced? Do you know when the AAD must be removed for factory service? Do you know when the service life ends? If you don’t, prudence requires you to ask your rigger or the manufacturer before you jump a rig beyond its originally intended 120 days.

Q: What if my AAD requires servicing before the end of the 180 days?
A: Our interpretation of the FARs is that when a manufacturer-recommended AAD maintenance/service interval comes due, even if before its 180 days expires, the rig should not be jumped until that maintenance/service is performed. That’s why it is imperative that future AAD service dates are recorded by the rigger, preferably on the packing data card, and known by the skydiver/rig owner.

Rig owners with specific questions about their rigs should consult with their riggers and/or the manufacturer of a specific component. Technical or rigger-related questions posed here will be forwarded to PIA or the component manufacturer, if USPA is not able to answer with certainty. PIA has also posted answers to FAQ on their website:

NTSB Update

November 24, 2008

As USPA has reported, jump plane maintenance and operations were the subject of a National Transportation Safety Board Special Investigation Report on the Safety of Parachute Jump Operations, and not in a good way. Knowing the FAA has a decision to make about how to respond to the NTSB, USPA met with the FAA and proposed a self-regulatory approach, believing that substantive improvements in jump aircraft maintenance and pilot training can be gained without the need for additional federal regulation. But first, USPA and FAA had to agree that all parachute operations that offer services to the general public and/or to experienced civilian skydivers for compensation are “commercial operators” as defined by the general definitions section of Title 14: Aeronautic and Space, Code of Federal Regulations.

14 CFR 1.1 Commercial Operator means a person who, for compensation or hire, engages in the carriage by aircraft in air commerce of persons or property, other than as an air carrier or foreign air carrier or under the authority of Part 375 of this title. Where it is doubtful that an operation is for “compensation or hire”, the test applied is whether the carriage by air is merely incidental to the person’s other business or is, in itself, a major enterprise for profit.

With that established, current regulatory requirements for aircraft maintenance will be reviewed with drop zone operators and a verifiable program developed by USPA. The program will then be implemented through our Group Member drop zones. Guidance for jump pilot initial training, recurrent training, and regular competency checks will follow similar development and implementation. Information on these programs will be distributed in Parachutist, the USPA website, and by direct e-mail communication with our Group Member drop zones.