Canopy Handling Working Group Update

At the STC meeting on Thursday 11 Feb, British Skydiving Chief Instructors voted to accept the recommendations of the Canopy Working Group and to implement them as of 1st April 2021. The Working Group, which consisted of Chief Instructors, Instructor Examiners, Council Members, Competitors and the Canopy Piloting Technical Excellence Advisor, has spent over two years looking at all aspects relating to the canopies used by skydivers including training, landing areas and canopy selection.

A new system of training has been devised, from student training right through to advanced canopy piloting. The original CH and CP training and manuals have been completely overhauled to bring them up to date and include more modern techniques required to keep our members safe when flying their canopies.

Landing Areas:
Any PTO wishing to allow jumpers to carry out high-performance landings with a final turn over 90 degrees will need to have a suitable landing area for them. It will need to be clear of hazards and have clear approaches and overshoots. Chief Instructors will carry out risk assessments of their areas and enter guidelines for their use into their SOPs. These will include jump number, qualification and currency requirements and deconfliction procedures to ensure that those carrying out high-performance landings are not putting themselves or other jumpers at risk. This is not in any way a ban on high-performance landings but a way of ensuring that all those doing them have been adequately briefed and are not inadvertently putting themselves or other jumpers in undue danger.

Canopy System:
A system has been devised to ensure that all jumpers use a suitable size of canopy and that those wishing to downsize do so at a rate that is suitable for their training and experience. This might seem alarming at first sight to all those jumpers who are already qualified and own equipment, and this was taken into account by the Working Group. There has to be a balance between safety and practicality and a compromise found. The system will allow downsizing at a reasonable rate and as further qualifications are gained this will also be taken into account. In addition to this, there is a system that allows Chief Instructors to permit all skydivers who are B Licence and above as of 31st March 2021 to carry on jumping their current canopy. Depending how many jumps they have done on that canopy, CIs may impose some limitations to their use or ensure that the jumper gets further training on that canopy.

As there was much discussion at the STC meeting, the Working Group has had to make minor alterations to the proposals. The documents and charts are being sent to Members of STC, Chief Instructors and DZOs for feedback and, therefore, it has not been possible to publish all the relevant documentation yet. Any publications that you may have seen on social media are from before the STC meeting and therefore any amendments will not show on them and some of the information will, therefore, be incorrect.

We expect to publish the new Canopy Training Sizing Charts by the end of the week and the Canopy Training Manual and associated documentation by early March. We will hold briefing sessions which will be notified to members through social media and the website to answer questions. There will be a video explanation of the new system followed by a Facebook Q&A. An app is being developed and will be released shortly allowing members to enter their exit weight and experience in order to see what minimum canopy size is recommended for them. The April issue of Skydive the Mag will also contain an article.