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brettski74

Air Canada and WestJet Policy on AAD Equipped Rigs

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It seems that Canadian airlines have some issue with AAD equipped rigs on their aircraft.

Many of us have experienced the questions from curious security screeners and baggage agents when carrying on or checking our gear for travel on commercial airlines. We're probably all aware of the TSA policy on skydiving rigs which states that
Quote

You may bring skydiving rigs with and without Automatic Activation Devices (AAD) as carry-on or checked luggage.



CATSA, the rough equivalent of the TSA up here in Canada is slightly less explicit, but lists parachutes as
Quote

Air carriers may permit provided certain conditions are met.



Having discussed and answered questions about my rig with CATSA staff while they check their knowledge base, those restrictions from CATSA seem to always be about the presence of gas cylinders in the rig.

The Air Canada website actually has quite detailed lists on what items may be restricted from carriage. As of this writing, nowhere is any kind of skydiving equipment. Given that it's not included in such a detailed list and is explicitly as permitted by both CATSA and the TSA, most reasonable people would conclude that skydiving rigs are permitted for carriage. Not so. Air Canada has an explicit policy that prohibits carriage of skydiving rigs that are equipped with an AAD. In my experience from about a year ago, I actually saw the wording of the policy as the baggage agent showed me on her screen and at that time, the policy explicitly stated that CYPRES equipped rigs were prohibited as both carry-on and checked baggage. At the time, they let my rig on board because I have a Vigil. More recently, I hear of another Canadian skydiver travelling with a Vigl equipped rig who passed through CATSA's inspection with full knowledge of the rig and it's contents, but was then told by Air Canada staff that the rig would not be permitted on board and would have to stay behind, so it appears that in the past year, the policy has been updated to include other AAD brands. To add insult to injury, when Air Canada made this decision, they basically told the guy to leave his rig behind and board the airplane or his ticket would be simply considered unused and forfeit. He'd have to buy a new ticket for a later flight.

Curiously enough, Air Canada's restricted baggage pages explicitly permit avalanche rescue gear containing both pyrotechnic triggers and compressed gas cylinders to be carried on board, so I'm unsure of why they should have a problem with a pyrotechnic cutter.

For those thinking that WestJet is the answer, the official response from WestJet Guest Relations is
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WestJet does not allow parachutes containing Automatic Activation Device (AAD), which contains explosives (UN 0432, Class 1.45) however if you are travelling with a parachute that contains an AAD with a battery this will be allowed in your checked or carry on baggage as long as it meets our baggage guidelines which can be found on www.westjet.com.



I've advised Airtec of my experiences with Air Canada and CSPA is already pursuing the issue with Air Canada directly, but in the meantime, I would caution travelling skydivers in and around Canada to bear this in mind when making travel purchasing decisions and spend your travel dollars accordingly.

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An aad does not have an explosive. In the same way that what goes on in the engine of your car is not an explosion.

When asked, it is not a lie to say your rig doesn't have that.
People are sick and tired of being told that ordinary and decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not, and I’m sick and tired of being told that I am

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WestJet sent me this when I flew to Florida a couple years ago. Had no issues whatsoever...except that the screener asked me why my rig had brass knuckles in it (3 rings and the cable housing definitely look like it, but I explained and went through without issue).

______________________________________________________________________
[Permitted in or as carry-on baggage ]
[ _________________________________________________________________]
[ [Permitted in or as checked baggage ]
[ [ _____________________________________________________________]
[ [ [Permitted on one?s person ]
[ [ [ _________________________________________________________]
[ [ [ [The approval of the operator is required ]
[ [ [ [ _____________________________________________________]
[ [ [ [ [The Pilot-in-Command must be informed of location ]
[___[___[___[___[_____________________________________________________]
[ [ [ [ [ [ ]
[ N [ N [ - [ - [ - [ PARACHUTES (MECHANICAL) WITH AN AUTOMATIC ]
[ [ [ [ [ [ ACTIVATION DEVICE OPERATED BY AN EXPLOSIVE ]
[ [ [ [ [ [ CHARGE ]
[ [ [ [ [ [ Explosive ? Parachutes containing an Automatic ]
[ [ [ [ [ [ Activation Device (AAD) are NOT permitted. AAD ]
[ [ [ [ [ [ contains explosives, (UN 0432, Class 1.4S) and ]
[ [ [ [ [ [ are not permitted on a passenger aircraft as ]
[ [ [ [ [ [ carry-on or checked BAGGAGE. ]
[ [ [ [ [ [ ]
[ [ [ [ [ [ Note: WestJet will accept a parachute for ]
[ [ [ [ [ [ transportation if and ONLY if it does NOT ]
[ [ [ [ [ [ contain any type of activation device or ]
[ [ [ [ [ [ mechanism. ]
[___[___[___[___[___[_________________________________________________]
[ [ [ [ [ [ ]
[ Y [ Y [ - [ - [ - [ PARACHUTES WITH A BATTERY OPPERATED AUTOMATIC ]
[ [ [ [ [ [ ACTIVATION DEVICE are acceptable. They can be ]
[ [ [ [ [ [ pre-programmed not to detonate at any altitude. ]
[___[___[___[___[___[_________________________________________________]


Here's a link on the explosive definition if anyone can elaborate on if an AAD applies..
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_UN_numbers_0401_to_0500
"When once you have tasted flight..."

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I'm a little surprised to be able to post this follow-up so quickly. I was very surprised to receive a phone call from the guy at Air Canada responsible for their dangerous goods policy, today. He understood our collective position and said that actually, this should have been resolved long ago with Natural Resources Canada having issue a not dangerous authorisation for CYPRES and Vigil AADs many years ago, but because the paperwork never reached him, it got forgotten about and the policy never updated. He assured me that he was fixing this. It may take about a month for all the pieces to be put in place, such as updates to the website, their internal knowledge base for staff, policy information to be shared with security screeners such as CATSA, but it should be fixed as soon as possible and AAD-equipped rigs should be permitted on Air Canada aircraft as soon as possible - probably within about a month by the time everything is updated and the new policies disseminated throughout the organization.

One caveat to all this that he mentioned, though, was new regulations regarding batteries. Due to some issues in recent years with various types of lithium batteries short circuiting, getting hot and in some cases, causing fires, there are new regulations soon coming into force that will require all batteries to be removed from checked baggage and carried on into the cabin. This will affect all kind of battery powered devices, including laptops, phones, tablets, cameras, etc, not just AADs. That's something that may need some thought in the near future for people traveling with multiple rigs, or larger rigs that don't meet carry-on baggage restrictions.

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Despite their best efforts, they'll still not have the "word" passed around - there will be incidents where the authorities in authority say it is a no go due to policy.

This does bring up a point about lithium batteries. Do we actually know for sure whether the various brands/I vs II actually use lithium batteries?
People are sick and tired of being told that ordinary and decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not, and I’m sick and tired of being told that I am

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sundevil777

Despite their best efforts, they'll still not have the "word" passed around - there will be incidents where the authorities in authority say it is a no go due to policy.

This does bring up a point about lithium batteries. Do we actually know for sure whether the various brands/I vs II actually use lithium batteries?



Vigil 2: "2 Tadiran lithium AA cells"
cavete terrae.

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spootch

If the unit keeps swoop pond goop out, it must keep battery goop in;)



Goop is easy to contain compared to fire.
People are sick and tired of being told that ordinary and decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not, and I’m sick and tired of being told that I am

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The answer often comes down to the way you describe the device. Using terms and expressions like aviation certified device or approved for use in aviation goes a long way. I bring the little vigil card with me.

Words you don't want to use would be like explosive cutter or pyrotechnic device. Instead something like sealed electronic cutter would be much better. Ultimately AAD manufacturers have gone to lengths to ensure the devices are safe and approved on aircraft but communicating the finer details are complicated for a screener in a rush. Less info is more!

-Michael

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My understanding is that both Vigil and CYPRES use lithium cells. The guy at Air Canada actually quoted the battery brand and types to me on the phone, so he had obviously done his homework. The Tadrian AA cells for Vigil that someone else mention sound very familiar from that conversation yesterday. The CYPRES batteries are C-sized cells from what I recall of the conversation, but I don't recall the brand. I've seen them before though and C cell sounds about right, size-wise.

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hackish

I bring the little vigil card with me.



It might help, but whenever I've had a security screener raise questions about my rig, it's always about the control unit at the base of the reserve container and always because it's an opaque object large enough to conceal a small weapon such as a knife. I had one guy run it through a few more times to try to get a "better look" before letting me pass, but I've twice had the screener say unless he/she can personally see what that is, he/she didn't care what pictures or documentation I was carrying. I've found you're much better off if you can refer them to their own internal knowledge base and have them find their answers from there. If you think about it, he/she has no way of knowing whether I really am trying to smuggle something past security and if I am, no way of trusting any image or documentation I show him/her for reassurance.

hackish

Words you don't want to use would be like explosive cutter or pyrotechnic device.



I never use such words, but that's something that never comes up. As I said, the usual question I get from security screeners is that they want to see the opaque object at the base of my reserve container to make sure it's not concealing a weapon such as a knife.

What would be more handy for such scenarios would be if the main control unit casing was made of an x-ray transparent material.

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