I was forwarded a message from a DZO that got this letter from their insurance carrier. For years people have been talking about the fear that the FAA may make us stop doing activities, it looks like we were worrying about the wrong group stepping in since the insurance carrier that is insuring the majority of the jump fleet out there is in the position to implement restrictions to anyone that wants to keep their planes insured. Currently in the cross hairs are airplane formation takeoffs, formation flights with jumpers and wingsuiting due to the high number of tail strikes occurring. We as a community need to come together to correct these issues or we could be finding that the plane operators might need to stop allowing those activities to occur if they want to keep insured.
From: AIR, Inc Date: September 12, 2012 8:47:55 AM PDT Subject: WINGSUIT PROBLEMS - BROADCAST E-MAIL FROM AIR, INC.
(Seems I have a little more of a voice with respect to certain subjects than I realized. Thank you all for your feedback and responses. I always welcome comments either pro or con. I feel the more conversation I encourage, the safer I believe we all will all be.)
This e-mail contains two major points of discussion:
1. Insurance Industry considers Wingsuit and Airplane formation flight an unapproved operation.
2. The number of wing suit tail strikes show a dramatic increase. Tail strikes have to stop!
It is like my previous e-mail on formation take-offs; they look cool, pilot's love them, and they are a catastrophe waiting to happen. The same logic applies to wing suit and airplane formation flying. Our underwriter has informed me that they consider wing suit and aircraft formation flying an unapproved operation. If one of us files a hull claim that is a result of a wing suit strike from an attempted formation flight with a wing suit jumper, we are now on notice that the operator's continuing insurance coverage will be subject to termination. If you want to engage in this high risk activity then it will be at your own risk and others in the skydiving insurance group will not be subject to a rate increase due to your desire to engage in what is an unnecessary operation.
The Skydiving Industry had 11 wing suit aircraft tail strikes last year. It is really very simple math, if we don't do something to correct this problem, than we are forcing the insurance industry to do something about it. Their only means of correcting the problem is either through overall rate increases or the elimination of coverage for claims as a result of a wing suit strike. I think we can all agree that neither outcome is acceptable. Let's be a little more pro-active.
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. I can not tell you all what to do and I don't have the answer for you anyway. All I can do is let you know what is happening from the Insurance side of the problem. As I mentioned above, wing suit tail strikes have become a big problem from an insurance stand point and if something isn't done immediately that reduces the frequency of wing suit tail strikes than we are forcing the insurance industry to the only responses available to them. Let's make wing suit operations as safe as they can be. Let's give the insurance companies another choice!