May 7, 2001, 8:19 AM
Post #1 of 5
Student deployment methods
Jumped this weekend at a DZ and saw that they had replaced their entire inventory of student rigs with new ones. While checking them out I noticed that they all were BOC vs spring activated pilot chutes.
When I went through AFF, I always thought that BOC would be a preferred method. Eliminating the re-train from "DONT LET GO OF THE RIP" to "LET GO!"
Is this a progressive approach? The reason I ask is this DZ also went to the new AFF course, A-H vs 1-7. I think that was a first also.
I'm doing my AFF right now and I'm pretty sure all my dz's student stuff is BOC. I think it makes more sense to start people with a throwout because that is what skydivers use anyway. A ripcord for the main is very outdated. (And yes, there are you pull-out people out there but pull-out and throwout are very similar so it's not too big of a transition)
Student deployment method has been something of a controversial subject in the past few years. For students there are compelling arguments in favour of both ripcord & hand-deploy. Each has specific advantages for students under training.
Since the tone of this thread is toward students jumping hand-deploy from the outset (which, incidentally I PERSONALLY agree with), I should do the "Devils Advocate" bit....
The main advantages of ripcord deployment for student progression is that once pulled it is completely separate from the deployment of the canopy & thus offers no opportunity for a students mistake with a ripcord to interfere with deployment. by comparison, hand-deploy allows the possibility of a horseshoe malfunction if the student fails to throw & correctly release the deployment handle.
In the early stages of AFF (commonly L 1-3) where the student would jump with 2 instructors & is more likely to become unstable & possibly lose one of the instructors, ripcord deployment can be easily rigged to operate with equal efficiency by use if a secondary left-side handle. No such device has been developed (or believed possible) for hand-deploy.
Ripcord deployment (arguably) operates more reliably in unstable deployment situations which a student could find himself in.
As such, ripcord deployment is "safer" for students, and the proper time for them to change is after qualification when they are more experienced in other aspects of skydiving such as stability.
As I said, this is NOT my own opinion, simply the argument in favour of students jumping ripcord.
Just to add to Mike's posting ... Double-sided BOCs are available on Student Dolphin, Javelin, Reflex and Telesis rigs. Double-sided BOCs have an extra handle on the lower left corner of the container. When an instructor pulls the extra handle, the left and top edges of the BOC open, allowing the pilotchute to fall out, catch air, etc. This feature comes in handy when a lone instructor finds himself docked on the student's left side as they approach the "hard deck" and the student cannot be bothered to pull. This spring I converted all 16 Telesis student rigs - at Perris Valley Skydiving School from main ripcords to double-sided BOC. Rigging Innovations supplied the parts. Hand-deploy pilotchutes for students are an old idea that originated in Georgia or Tennessee in the late 1970s. USPA squashed that idea, so it moved North. Gananoque, Ontario, Canada started dropping students with throwout pilotchutes back in 1979. By the mid-1980s most Canadian DZs had converted to throw-outs on all their student rigs. this made life easier for the packers, because they packed exactly the same way whether a student was planning to do an IAD jump from 3,000' or a PFF from 10,000'. Throw-outs also reduced the workload for riggers and aircraft mechanics. Americans did not clue in until the late 1990s, now they are converting to throw-outs in a hurry. Sometimes it is amusing to watch the political machinations within USPA. As for which system has a technical advantage ... we can argue this until the cows come home. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages. In my opinion, the only advantage of main ripcords is that you can install a pin-puller AAD on the main container, but this creates another series of head aches and they are not compatible with extra instructor handles. In conclusion, USPA DZs are following the Canadian lead - in converting their students to BOC throw-outs - because it makes life easier for everyone involved.
Our DZ uses ripcords because of the reasons Mike stated. The ripcord handles used to be located on the right front hip area. You were taught to look, reach, pull. They found some students lost their arch when they bent their bodies forward (instead of just their heads) to look. This past winter they changed all the rigs over to having the ripcord handle located at the bottom of the container. Now you just arch, reach and pull, same as with a BOC and you reach to the same area as you will when you transition to BOC. I thought this was a good idea. I remember on one of my first low solos where I lost stability and panicked and pulled on my back. I'm not sure it would have had the same outcome if it was throw out.