Aircraft insurers do NOT demand "standardized wingsuit training via USPA"
There have been repeated assertions made by various individuals that if USPA does not adopt a "standardized wingsuit training" program and associated "wingsuit instructor rating" that insurance companies will stop insuring skydiving aircraft.
These repeated assertions are based on an interpretation of one paragraph from an email sent last month to drop zone operators by Jeff Norris, whose company underwrites aircraft insurance for essentially all parachute centers using turbine aircraft.
That paragraph read:
"I know there is a lot of activity already with respect to standardizing and regulating wing suit jumping and there is also a lot of resistance to it's regulation. I have heard the argument that USPA does not regulate freeflying or Crew activities so why regulate wing suit jumping? I would argue that those two activities are not causing the same problem that the wing suit jumpers are causing with aircraft collisions. Let's not wait to do something until someone brings down a whole airplane as a result of wing suit jumper ripping the horizontal stabilizer right off the fuselage."
From that paragraph, the primary proponent of "standardized wingsuit training via USPA" has created a sales pitch that starts out thusly:
First and foremost, it's been demonstrated that insurance companies and DZOs want/need to see standardization of wingsuit training in order to best protect their interests in their aircraft.
Throughout mutliple threads on this subject, others have made a similar argument, all based on the above paragraph from the Norris email.
I too read that paragraph to mean that Jeff and/or the insurers seemed to be advocating a USPA-mandated wingsuit training course because the words he used seemd to be straight out of the primary proponent's own writings on the subject.
So I called Jeff and we had a very interesting conversation about this subject (and some others, too: He's an old-time skydiver and flight instructor for many years, so he goes way beyond just being an insurance underwriter in terms of appreciating and understanding sport parachuting).
Anyway, after our conversation, he sent me the following email, herre reproduced in its entirety per his request:
________________________________________ From: AIR, Inc. [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 4:11 PM To: "robin heid" Subject: Wing Suit e-mail to my Aircraft Operators
(Robin, please use this e-mail for it's only intended and ultimate agenda; wing suit safety. I would rather you quote it in its entirety than take bits and pieces out of it to fit any other purpose than it's overall intent.)
It was very good speaking with you Robin and thank you for alerting me to how some wing suit jumpers were interpreting my e-mail I sent out to all my aircraft operators that I insure regarding the wing suit jumper tail strike frequency problem. My e-mail was really only intended for those aircraft operators and its intent was to alert the aircraft operators to the very significant wing suit tail strike problem. I know that wing suit jumpers are a significant profit center for many of my clients and I wanted that income to continue for them plus, obviously, none of us wants to see jumpers injured or killed, and no one wants to read about a skydiving aircraft crash caused by a wing suit jumper and aircraft tail collision.
Apparently my e-mail reached some it was not intended for, which is fine, and you and some wing suit jumpers interpreted one paragraph of my e-mail as the insurance company advocating USPA regulation of wing suit jumping. To be clear, the insurance company is not advocating anything. All they told me is, if wing suit claims continue to be a problem, they will consider excluding that activity from my aircraft operators insurance policy. I suggested, as one possible solution, USPA regulation, to help promote wing suit safety. Please tell everyone not to concentrate on my word "regulation" but on my words "wing suit safety". If it can be regulated better and quicker some way else than through USPA formal regulation....Wonderful!
Many of my aircraft clients who received my e-mail have been very pro-active and have already instituted risk management protocols to help manage this risk. This was the whole intent of my e-mail to my aircraft operators; to save wing suit jumper lives, aircraft, and income. Things are already safer for wing suit jumpers at many drop zones across the country. My main agenda, with the help of all my aircraft operators, is to see the next 10 years go by without a single wing suit tail strike injury or death.
What is the wing suit community doing about regulating the problem, other that arguing about whether or not it should be regulated by the USPA? I think discussion is great but in my opinion, (now it is my opinion again) the wing suit community needs to redirect its discussion back onto the path of how to stop all tail strikes today! Let's make the last tail strike the last tail strike.
Great talking to you. Jeff Norris
edited at poster's request
(This post was edited by billvon on Oct 3, 2012, 10:15 AM)
Post edited by billvon
(Moderator) on Oct 3, 2012, 10:15 AM