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Jan. 7, 2010

Fewer Fatalities in 2009
U.S. civilian fatalities totaled 16 in 2009, the fewest number of fatalities in more than four decades. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1961 to find a year with fewer fatalities. There were 14 fatalities in 1961, and 1962 finished with 19. From there, the fatality numbers generally increased until peaking at a high of 56 in 1981, before starting to drop throughout the next three decades. While we don’t know how many total jumps were made in 1962, it is safe to say that the 6,800 members in 1962 didn’t make anywhere close to the nearly 3 million jumps performed by the 32,000-plus members in 2009. Much of the credit for reducing fatalities goes to the instructors, riggers, S&TAs and drop zone managers across the country who constantly work to keep everyone as safe as possible.

But every fatal accident is a tragedy, and even one fatality or injury per year is too many. Lets all continue to stay as safe as possible and help our fellow jumpers stay safe as well.

Start Planning Now for USPA Safety Day
USPA Safety Day is fast approaching, coming up on March 13, 2010. One of the duties of every USPA S&TA is to ensure that the drop zone holds a Safety Day event each year. Start your planning now, and start the 2010 skydiving season with a great Safety Day event. USPA members really appreciate Safety Day and all the valuable information that is shared. USPA will again provide support with handouts and other presentation materials, as well as list participating DZs here. E-mail to be included on the list, and be sure to note if the event will be held at an alternate date.

Don’t forget to nominate a recipient for the Chesley H. Judy Safety Award and send the information to USPA. To allow enough time for the certificate to be mailed in time for Safety Day, each S&TA should send the name of the recipient and the name of the drop zone, along with a mailing address for the certificate, to before February 26.

AFF Standardization Meeting Reminder
There have been just a few confirmed registrations for the upcoming USPA Accelerated Freefall (AFF) Standardization Meeting, scheduled for January 19-20, 2010, at the Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside. Those who are planning to attend should register with the hotel no later than January 8 to help the hotel management with planning. Also, send an e-mail to to register for the meeting with USPA Headquarters. The fee for the meeting is $100 per person, payable by check made out to USPA. Be sure to arrive at the meeting with a current Skydiver's Information Manual and Instructional Rating Manual.

The meeting is designed to help ensure that course standards and procedures are maintained at the same level by every AFF IE and also to discuss and develop new ideas for candidate training and evaluation methods. Attendance is required at least once every two years for any current AFF Instructor Examiner (IE) or anyone who is pursuing the AFF IE rating. The next time this meeting will be offered will be January 2011, on the east coast of the U.S.

More information is included in December’s “Professional,” found here.

Time to Renew Drop Zone Waivers
This is a second reminder regarding drop zone waivers, as very few have been received thus far for 2010. Did you forget to submit your waiver? S&TAs at many drop zones submit waivers to the Basic Safety Requirements (BSRs) for student wind limits, landing area requirements or use of flotation devices. These waivers must be resubmitted to USPA Headquarters each year in order to renew the waiver for the coming year. The S&TA need only send a completed waiver form to listing the waivered items, as decided by the S&TA and drop zone operator. There is no approval required by the USPA Board of Directors, Regional Director or Headquarters for any of the BSRs that are noted with an (S) for waiver authority. Once the waiver form is received, USPA Headquarters will mail the S&TA a letter to keep on file at the drop zone, acknowledging that the waiver has been received. E-mail with questions.

FAA Clarifies Traffic Pattern Rule
In late March 2009, an individual submitted a request for legal interpretation to the FAA Chief Counsel in Washington, D.C. The request questioned the applicability of the "drift over" provision of paragraph 105.23(c) of Part 105. This paragraph has been misinterpreted by many as prohibiting parachute descents through an airport traffic pattern, even at airports that allow skydiving. With its interpretation, the FAA has confirmed that the "drift over" provision of paragraph 105.23(c) applies only to non-towered airports where approval for skydiving has not been granted. At airports where skydiving is conducted with airport management approval, pilots and skydivers both have a responsibility to safely share the airport traffic pattern.

Plastic Pilot Certificate Deadline Approaching
The deadline for pilots to upgrade to the new, plastic FAA airmen certificate is March 31, 2010. The replacement certificate, similar to a credit card, is available online through the FAA website. There is a $2 charge for the certificate, but the fee is waived if on your application you request that your Social Security number be removed as your airmen certificate number. The FAA suggests allowing four to six weeks for mail processing and seven to 10 days for online processing.

Parachute Repack Errors in 2010 FAR/AIM
The 2010 FAR/AIM published by ASA (Aviation Supplies & Academics) contains two errors affecting parachute repack dates. The FAA final rule that provides for 180 days between main, reserve and pilot emergency parachutes became effective on November 6, 2008, too late to be included in the 2009 FAR/AIM. In the 2010 ASA version, Section 105.43 correctly states that main parachutes must be packed within 180 days before the date of use, but leaves the outdated 120-day reference for reserve parachutes. Also not updated to 180 days, is the pilot emergency parachute reference found in Section 91.307. USPA has already notified ASA of the errors.

§ 105.43 Use of single-harness, dual-parachute systems. § 91.307 Parachutes and parachuting.

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