Parachute Training Organisations (PTOs) are preparing to resume operations once again with safety measures in place to minimise the risk of transmission of Covid-19.
During 2020 there was a huge reduction in the number of descents carried out in the UK, mostly due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, During the first quarter of 2020, we were also affected by some of the worst weather we had experienced for several years. For some members, it may have been close to 9 months by the time they returned to the skies, for others it may have even been longer, and for the rest, you may still not have set foot on a Drop Zone for a year or more. If you are considering returning after such a prolonged period of time, please come back slowly.
Some members experienced injuries due to lack of currency after their return in June/July 2020, so once again we must remind ourselves and consider the safety implications of a prolonged period without carrying out a skydive.
I am sure that our Chief Instructors will consider implementing currency requirements before allowing you to skydive once again, and they are best placed to know whether you have the experience, the ability or competence to carry out your chosen discipline. Be sensible about wanting to rush back into the plane, slow everything down, to make sure you get your briefs, you get your checks. A full flightline check cannot be completed at 2 metres separation and so mitigation is required (e.g. by the use of face coverings and by hand disinfection before and after any necessary contact). Familiarise yourself with any new procedures and the reason for having them. If there is anything you are unsure of, you just need to ask a member of staff or an instructor.
DfT and CAA guidance updated
Both the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Department for Transport (DfT) provide information and guidance for the return of General Aviation, published in March 2021 following the Government publication of the road to recovery in February.
The CAA has also produced a special magazine Clued Up: Return to Flying with articles and resources to support pilots’ safe return to flying.
While we understand that many pilots are currently unable to fly due to COVID-19 restrictions, the CAA aims to continue releasing safety education and awareness material to support the GA community with the future return to flying and continue to help promote longer-term safety awareness.
British Skydiving’s Return to Skydiving Working Group (RSWG) reconvened during early March to review and consider the latest Government publications and revised the Return to Skydiving guidance, to ensure PTOs satisfy themselves that they have adequately assessed and controlled the risk of transmission of Covid-19 and that their current procedures are in accordance with prevailing government regulations and guidance from the CAA and Dept for Transport.
Skydivers should make an informed decision as to when they wish to return to skydiving. This decision needs to be made weighing up their own perception of their risk. Factors they should consider when making this decision could include (but are not limited to) their age, gender, health, employment, and home situation.
Tandem instructors – who spend longer periods of time in very close confines with multiple students per day – should consider this in their own personal risk assessment.
Read the guidance document here:
Photo: Matthew Jonathan Penny over Bridlington by Dave Ruston