Guidance on Return to Skydiving from the STO

To British Skydiving Instructors and Coaches

29 June 2020

Dear Colleague

Guidance on Return to Skydiving has today been published on the British Skydiving website. We urge you to familiarise yourself with it and to maintain close liaison with the Parachute Training Organisation/s where you instruct or coach, on their plans for resumption of skydiving activity and the control measures in place to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19. We have also published a news item ‘Welcome back to skydiving!’.

The coming weeks and months are likely to be a time when additional guidance and advice from government and other agencies, including British Skydiving, is published in the light of prevailing infection rates and the latest scientific advice. We must all stay alert to keep things moving in the right direction.

Considerations for instructors and coaches

Instructors and coaches are likely to be at higher risk of transmission of Covid-19 than solo skydivers because of their close interaction with those in their charge. The more time people are together and the closer you are, the greater the risk.  If you are aware you have had Covid-19, please see this flowchart.

The highest risk of transmission of Covid-19 appears likely to be with Tandem skydiving because of the proximity of instructor and student attached to each other, in the aircraft, in freefall, and under canopy, when tandem students may in any case be breathing awkwardly. There is likely to be increased risk from known factors in the transmission of Covid-19 such as bodily fluids including droplets or more of tears, mucus and saliva and, sometimes, vomit.

Your own decisions should be based on a personal risk assessment and you should satisfy yourself that each of the individuals in your care has done the same. Some carriers of Covid-19 may have no symptoms, so personal risk assessments should include the risks to individuals’ contacts outside the sport.

Personal equipment

Risk Mitigation Equipment is widely used in the hope of reducing the risk of transmission of Covid-19 when there is close contact between individuals, for example in personal care services such as hairdressing. It has not been tested or certified for this purpose and is not the same as Covid-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It has been suggested that instructors who use full-face helmets are protected from catching or transmitting the virus. Our medical advice is that this is unlikely to be the case. Visors may helpfully reduce ‘splash’ into the eyes from large particles, as would goggles. What is not understood is the effect that circulating air inside a helmet chamber may have on viral transmission. Several popular helmets on the market vent at the back, which may be a risk for anyone behind, including when sitting in an aircraft.

Skydivers under instruction and coaching need to be warned of the risks of transmission of Covid-19, make judgments for themselves, and give informed consent if they are ready to proceed.

Lastly, a note about renewal. If you have already renewed your membership and ratings, when you renew next year you will receive a discount on your membership for the three months (April to June) to compensate for the period this year when the sport was grounded. If you have not yet renewed, your current year’s subscription will be for the nine months from 1 July

Stay well and stay safe.

Jeff Montgomery

Safety & Technical Officer and STC Chair