1) You lose altitude awareness. 2) You are very, very low with your main out and cutaway. 3) You fail to deploy your reserve immediately after cutting away your main when you are very low.
An RSL can hurt you if:
1) You cutaway and do not fail to deploy your reserve in time.
99% of cutaways fall into the latter category.
You can avoid being in a situation where an RSL would help you by;
1) Maintaining altitude awareness. 2) Jumping an appropriate canopy for your experience and skill level. 3) Understanding and being prepared for violent malfunctions that lose altitude rapidly if you do jump s HP canopy.
One main cause of canopy malfunctions is poor body position. Some manufacturerís recommend a slightly head high attitude when deploying the reserve to assist the reserve pilot chute launch. This is different from on your back spinning. A skydiverís arms, legs, and head all present snag points for the reserve pilot chute. If the pilot chute must go past the appendages, there exists a risk of entanglement. If the jumper is unstable, it increases the potential for the canopy to malfunction.
If you do not have enough altitude to get stable after cutting away, you either;
1) Deployed your main too low. 2) Rode a malfunctioning main too long. 3) Failed to get hard riser inserts and maintain your 3-rings and cutaway cables creating a hard cutaway.
All 3 of these are very easy to avoid, making being low in freefall easy to avoid.
So, in conclusion, an RSL can help 1% of the time, in situations that can be easily avoided, and hurt you 99% of the time. The RSL doesnít know if you are low or not. If it Ďarmedí itself at, say 750 feet, it would be a great device. But is doesnít. It is armed unless you disconnect it.
(This post was edited by Hooknswoop on Aug 22, 2005, 9:56 AM)