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Can a high hard deck increase risks?

 

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daffes  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 9:33 AM
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Can a high hard deck increase risks? Can't Post

Currently, my hard deck to assess any malfunction with my canopy is 2000 ft, if anything still looks wrong at this point I'll chop it. I also plan to have a full controllability check done by then and I won't touch my slider below this altitude.

Now, suppose something happens between 1000-2000, there are few unlikely, but possible scenarios, like a canopy collision, a cell might tear apart, a line might break... (it's out of this scope to discuss that those two last could be prevented by proper maintenance)

If I follow my hard deck guideline, this means that I shouldn't cut away my main anymore, although, it's very likely that my reserve can be safely deployed on the remaining 1000 ft right?

So, by having a higher hard deck, which I believed would make me safer and give me extra altitude to deal with anything, it actually removed from my hands the opportunity to save my life on the most safe way on those situations.

Should I have then a "soft" deck and a true hard deck for those events between 2000 and 1000?


NWFlyer  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 9:39 AM
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Re: [daffes] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

You keep doing what you need to do to be alive when you hit 0 feet. If you're in a shit hits the fan situation like you describe below your "hard deck," it's very unlikely that you'll be thinking "Well, I've got a shitty mess of a main above my head that I can't land safely, but I'm below my hard deck so, oh well." Continuing to problem solve at that point is a good thing.

What hard decks are designed to prevent is the situation where you identify a problem well above 2000 feet (or whatever your individual number is) and you continue to try to "fix" it past the point where you still have the best option (cutaway and pull reserve at a reasonable altitude) available to you.

Your decision tree as described is also missing one reasonable possibility for the low situation, and that is getting your reserve out without first cutting away your main.


(This post was edited by NWFlyer on Mar 13, 2015, 9:40 AM)


daffes  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 9:49 AM
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Re: [NWFlyer] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

@NWFlyer

Thanks for your reply and I agree with what you said, but that's not how we are thought on AFF and it's not on textbook definition of hard deck or in articles like this http://www.skydivemag.com/...-should-you-cut-away which I saw a link given the safety days discussions.

The guideline is: Below your hard deck, your only option is to deploy the reserve into the main. Combine this with many people suggesting higher hard decks and you get into this deadlock situation.

Another situation is in a two out scenario, where a stable landable side by side can turn into a downplane. It might also be the safer approach to cut it away below the hard deck. I was surprised when a instructor told me this recently after I had my A, I wouldn't have done it after reading the SIM.

Should the guidelines on those sections be rewritten to clarify this?


(This post was edited by daffes on Mar 13, 2015, 9:55 AM)


ghost47  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 9:49 AM
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Re: [daffes] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

This was discussed a while ago in a semantic debate over the terms "hard deck" and "decision altitude." It seems to me that you are conflating the two when you don't have to. In my mind, a "decision altitude" is the altitude at which you decide to chop if you do not have a landable canopy. I think 2000 feet is a fine altitude for that.

But a "hard deck" is the altitude at which chopping becomes dangerous, because your reserve may not inflate in time. After you reach your hard deck, and you still have an unlandable canopy, you fire your reserve to get more material over your head, and hope for the best. In my opinion, 2000 feet is much too high for a hard deck. I'd pick something like 1000 feet.


tred  (B License)

Mar 13, 2015, 9:52 AM
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Re: [ghost47] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

I started a similar thread a few months back wondering about things like you just described

http://www.dropzone.com/...;;page=unread#unread

may be helpful for you

ETA: already mentioned above


(This post was edited by tred on Mar 13, 2015, 9:53 AM)


daffes  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 9:57 AM
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Re: [ghost47] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

I like this distinction between decision altitude and hard deck. I think it maps to the "soft deck" proposal. It would be nice if skydivers picked up the terms or if USPA pushed on them.


daffes  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 9:57 AM
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Re: [tred] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks tred, seems like a very similar discussion. Reading it now.


NWFlyer  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 10:06 AM
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Re: [daffes] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
The guideline is: Below your hard deck, your only option is to deploy the reserve into the main.

Maybe how I expressed it wasn't clear; I was trying to ensure that you understood that was indeed an option if you find yourself in a situation where you have a malfunction that manifests itself lower than your decision altitude.

Quote:
Another situation is in a two out scenario, where a stable landable side by side can turn into a downplane. It might also be the safer approach to cut it away below the hard deck. I was surprised when a instructor told me this recently after I had my A, I wouldn't have done it after reading the SIM.

Two outs are a complex, messy situation, with a lot of different opinions and a relatively limited set of data to back up those opinions.

I'm actually kind of surprised someone recommended that you cut away a stable side-by-side if it's still in that configuration. Some would argue that your best option in a two-out is to try to induce a downplane situation and then chop the main. But the SIM does indeed cover the downplane scenario with the recommendation to cut away the main, and makes no reference to a minimum altitude for that cutaway.

What you seem to be learning now (which is good) is that an A license is only the beginning of your education as a skydiver. The SIM is designed to describe what USPA believes to be best practices in safety, and what is believed to be the best practice for teaching new students. But it won't ever cover every situation. And reasonable people can agree or disagree with the best practices taught in there, and those best practices evolve (thus why the SIM is updated regularly).


(This post was edited by NWFlyer on Mar 13, 2015, 10:07 AM)


riggerrob  (D 14840)

Mar 13, 2015, 10:09 AM
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Re: [daffes] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

You are thinking too hard.
USPA sets minimum standards.
Smart skydivers try to set their personal standards slightly higher.
For example, USPA used to say that with my D license, I could deploy my main anywhere above 2,000. A long time ago, I decided that I was not comfortable being in freefall below 2,500 feet, so now I try to toss my main pilot-chute above 3,000 feet and plan to be hanging under a full-inflated main by 2,500 feet.
USPA also sets decision altitude at 1,700 feet and "pull more handles" by 1,500 feet.
BUT if I find myself spinning under a malfunction at 1,499 feet, I going to continue to pull handles until my goggles fill with blood.

As for the concept of not cutting away below 1,500 feet and merely pulling the reserve ripcord .... That made sense when round reserves were fashionable.


daffes  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 10:18 AM
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Re: [NWFlyer] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

I meant if the side by side turned out into a downplane below your decision altitude, not to cut away the stable side by side. I believe I would very likely have committed to land the downplane if it had happened to me before that discussion, given my training at the moment.


dthames  (D 34390)

Mar 13, 2015, 10:18 AM
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Re: [daffes] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

daffes wrote:
@NWFlyer

Thanks for your reply and I agree with what you said, but that's not how we are thought on AFF and it's not on textbook definition of hard deck or in articles like this http://www.skydivemag.com/...-should-you-cut-away which I saw a link given the safety days discussions.

The guideline is: Below your hard deck, your only option is to deploy the reserve into the main. Combine this with many people suggesting higher hard decks and you get into this deadlock situation.

Another situation is in a two out scenario, where a stable landable side by side can turn into a downplane. It might also be the safer approach to cut it away below the hard deck. I was surprised when a instructor told me this recently after I had my A, I wouldn't have done it after reading the SIM.

Should the guidelines on those sections be rewritten to clarify this?

I have never been in armed combat. But when you go to war you go as prepared as you can, with the best equipment that you can manage, the best information about the situation, the best information about your enemy, and with a plan of action.

Odds are things will not go exactly as planned. The one that comes out on top must never stop learning and adapting.

If you are truly not a very adaptive person, then a hard and fast rule might serve you best.

I was taught that once you start flaring to NEVER let up on the toggles. But in a situation where the best choice is to go crashing straight to the ground, letting up on the toggle worked very well.


daffes  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 10:33 AM
Post #12 of 44 (7381 views)
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Re: [dthames] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks those are good points @Dthames,

I can adapt and I do it, although, it's common sense that students and people with low experience are better following guidelines than adapting. I think there's space to change the wording on the SIM to clarify this situation. I know that overwhelming students with complex decisions is also not advised but a decision altitude vs a hard deck altitude seems simple enough to be discerned on the SIM.


grantunderland  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 10:33 AM
Post #13 of 44 (7377 views)
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Re: [daffes] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

This is what I use. I'm happy and comfortable with it, but will listen to anyone that has constructive input.
Decision altitude: If I don't have a good canopy at 1800', I'm chopping.
Hard Deck: If something happens between having a good canopy and entering my pattern, I'll chop. If I have entered my pattern, it is reserve only at that point. I enter my pattern around 1200'.

I chose pattern entrance after watching PD's video on hard decks with Shannon Pilcher. For me, it eliminates the requirement to check/verify my altitude. Getting the reserve out right away without having to verify if I'm above/below 1k may give me more altitude to deal with "what happens next". If I chop at 1200', there won't be much left, and I'll want every last foot.
I do have a MARD on my rig, but that has never factored into any of my altitudes. To me, that MARD is something that may give me a few extra feet if I need it.


NWFlyer  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 10:58 AM
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Re: [daffes] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

daffes wrote:
Thanks those are good points @Dthames,

I can adapt and I do it, although, it's common sense that students and people with low experience are better following guidelines than adapting. I think there's space to change the wording on the SIM to clarify this situation. I know that overwhelming students with complex decisions is also not advised but a decision altitude vs a hard deck altitude seems simple enough to be discerned on the SIM.

Davi, good time to reach out to Jason Gordon (our regional director) and share your ideas with him. The SIM gets updated in the USPA Board's Safety & Training committee, and Jason would be the local conduit to that. Smile


daffes  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 11:15 AM
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Re: [NWFlyer] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

Nice, I didn't know about those procedures for submitting a proposal. I plan to review the SIM and reach to Jason.


NWFlyer  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 11:36 AM
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Re: [daffes] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

daffes wrote:
Nice, I didn't know about those procedures for submitting a proposal. I plan to review the SIM and reach to Jason.

Note that it doesn't necessarily mean it'll go anywhere ... but Jason's the right place to start to understand how. People do a lot of whining about USPA without availing themselves of their representatives. Don't be that guy. Laugh


daffes  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 12:06 PM
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Re: [NWFlyer] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

Sure, this thread solved the purpose to confirm that I was not crazy by proposing two different decks. I have been disturbed to allow me that for a while. Wondering, if something bad happens, will this be seen as a stupidity? I'm still new to the game and will do my best to explain my perspective in interpreting the safety guidelines... Given it's a source of confusion to me, might be to others as well and even if the proposal don't pass, the discussion is still valid.


(This post was edited by daffes on Mar 13, 2015, 12:07 PM)


wolfriverjoe  (A 50013)

Mar 13, 2015, 12:27 PM
Post #18 of 44 (7134 views)
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Re: [daffes] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

daffes wrote:
I meant if the side by side turned out into a downplane below your decision altitude, not to cut away the stable side by side. I believe I would very likely have committed to land the downplane if it had happened to me before that discussion, given my training at the moment.

Bolding mine.

You might want to revisit what a downplane is, what happens in it and what happens if you try to land it.

I didn't witness it, but there was a 2 out that turned into a downplane at my old DZ. Student rig, scared the AAD because he was having so much fun in freefall that he lost altitude awareness until way low.

He rode the downplane down to a couple hundred feet before chopping it. Another couple seconds and it would have been really bad.


daffes  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 12:33 PM
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Re: [wolfriverjoe] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

I did revisit that, with around 30 jumps at the time, and learned better. Although, I wish I had never had to revisit that, and learned first time. I'd like to hear more from this student mal and why he took so long to chop, I wonder if it's related with how he learned about hard decks.


hillson  (D 33134)

Mar 13, 2015, 12:39 PM
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Re: [NWFlyer] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

NWFlyer wrote:
daffes wrote:
Thanks those are good points @Dthames,

I can adapt and I do it, although, it's common sense that students and people with low experience are better following guidelines than adapting. I think there's space to change the wording on the SIM to clarify this situation. I know that overwhelming students with complex decisions is also not advised but a decision altitude vs a hard deck altitude seems simple enough to be discerned on the SIM.

Davi, good time to reach out to Jason Gordon (our regional director) and share your ideas with him. The SIM gets updated in the USPA Board's Safety & Training committee, and Jason would be the local conduit to that. Smile

He should probably speak to an instructor before he tilts at windmills trying to change the SIM. Perhaps it isn't translating due to the internet but there seems to be a fundamental disconnect between what the ISP and the rest of the SIM teaches and the interpretation presented.

This stuff is right in the Cat A non method specific section under emergencies:

6. Pull the cutaway handle until no lower than 1,000 feet.


7. Pull the reserve ripcord handle immediately after cutting away or by 1,000 feet, regardless of stability, to initiate reserve deployment.

9. Cut away above 1,000 feet.

a. If a malfunction procedure has not resolved the problem by then, deploy the reserve (requires a cutaway with an SOS system).

b. In the event of any malfunction and regardless of the planned procedure or equipment, the reserve ripcord must be pulled by no lower than 1,000 feet.

Edit: even in the "is it a hard deck is it a decision altitude" thread thwre wasn't a bunch of drama about what is supposed to happen if there is a "situation" between normal deployment and 1k ft AGL


(This post was edited by hillson on Mar 13, 2015, 12:47 PM)


daffes  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 12:47 PM
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Re: [hillson] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

@hillson

Those are good pointers.

My memory might fail, but that's what I record from AFF. And the 1000 feet was about telling me how fast I should be acting between the cutaway and pulling the reserve rip cord. It seemed clear, that the decision could only be made above 2500.

Instructor: What's your decision altitude
Me: 2,500 feet
Instructor: What do you have to decide?
Me: If I'm keeping or cutting away my main
Instructor: Good, from 2500 below you have committed to land your main.

EDIT: Point 9 mentioned does seem to address my concerns.


(This post was edited by daffes on Mar 13, 2015, 12:53 PM)


daffes  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 1:16 PM
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Re: [daffes] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd like to mention that it's exactly because I have a huge respect for the things that are written in the SIM that I raised this thread, as I was worried that I was putting myself in danger for following one of the advices.

I admit that I assumed decision altitude and hard decks to be the same concept.

Reading the CATA pointers again there are indeed a few entries that solve part of my concerns.


tred  (B License)

Mar 13, 2015, 1:24 PM
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Re: [daffes] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

daffes wrote:
@hillson

Those are good pointers.

My memory might fail, but that's what I record from AFF. And the 1000 feet was about telling me how fast I should be acting between the cutaway and pulling the reserve rip cord. It seemed clear, that the decision could only be made above 2500.

Instructor: What's your decision altitude
Me: 2,500 feet
Instructor: What do you have to decide?
Me: If I'm keeping or cutting away my main
Instructor: Good, from 2500 below you have committed to land your main.

EDIT: Point 9 mentioned does seem to address my concerns.

this was my impression right off student status as well and that combined with the discussion on the podcast I heard is what prompted me to start the "hard deck" thread. in episodes following the podcast I mentioned they brought up the difference between hard deck and decision altitude, after they said they had many questions regarding the difference.

so it seems to me that many other besides you and I have confusion with these terms


NWFlyer  (D License)

Mar 13, 2015, 2:06 PM
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Re: [hillson] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

hillson wrote:
He should probably speak to an instructor before he tilts at windmills trying to change the SIM. Perhaps it isn't translating due to the internet but there seems to be a fundamental disconnect between what the ISP and the rest of the SIM teaches and the interpretation presented.

Fair enough, and the response may very well be "tilting at windmills." But I also like to encourage people to connect to USPA and start to understand how decisions get made and how things get into and out of the SIM. The OP and I happen to live in the same region and have an RD who I'm pretty sure would at least be thoughtful and responsive and happy to have engagement from a constituent.


hillson  (D 33134)

Mar 13, 2015, 2:14 PM
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Re: [tred] Can a high hard deck increase risks? [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the issue with "hard deck" - specifically - is that it is a term that we all use but it doesn't really have a specific definition. At least not in the SIM, iirc. The SIM talks in terms of various license dependent container opening altitudes, various "decison-to-act" altitudes and the "too low to safely cutaway and deploy a reserve" altitude (1k AGL).

Hard deck / decision altitude things, like, porn that is "I know it when I see it" type things. Jumpers often use the terms interchangeably, to mean the same things etc. I have a hard deck where Id go reserve only, a hard deck wjere it is time to hit EPs regardless, a hard deck where I'd like my EPs completed and a hard deck where id go to reserve only. These are also decision altitudes. And the altitudes are basically what you'd expect given the SIM and common practice given a little upwards fudge factor.

The point is that I can sit around in bar school after jumping, use whichever term I'd like and people will understand what I'm taking about given the situation described.

I didn't listen to the podcast but given all the concern it seems like the concepts could have been better presented. They're important thing - regardless of the "words" used that you have a plan that YOU know and makes sense to you.

I will try to deploy between 2.5 and 3.5. I will decide if I have a good canopy by x altitude. I will have my EPs complete by y altitude. I will mit cutaway below z. If my lines snap after my "standard decide and act" altitude but I'm above my too low to cutaway altitude comfortably I'll cutaway and deploy my reserve etc etc.

This stuff is situational. And, for the most part, similar within a nine iron, for *most* jumpers...avoiding the odd case you can argue forever.

It seems to me that this "podcast" gave some questionable advice - or at least phrased it poorly.

Like anything else when you're learning, if you hear / read something that sounds reasonable but it new to you...run it by someone qualified to give an opinion and talk it through. Every FJC is different and every podcast is different. Don't take them as gospel.


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