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df8m1

New AAD made in USA

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3mpire

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We already have data collectors for parachute flight data, and free fall data. Personally, I am not a fan of, shall I say, "non professional" jumpers trying to "collect data". A test jumper has to have a lot of discipline. By the very nature of such an activity, that is not manufacturer based, someone is trying to impress themselves or someone else by pushing the limits of either their own, or their equipment's capability, and that, more often than not, eventually results in someone getting hurt. "Hold my beer", or , "everyone watch this" comes to mind when I hear of someone wanting to be able to "collect data"..



You know in my early twenties someone showed up at our regular drinking hole with a pocket brethalyzer -- first time anyone from my crew had seen one that wasn't attached to a police officers arm. The result was a casual night of beers and pool turned into a competition to see who could "win" with the highest score. Needless to say if the idea of the pocket brethalyzer was to help you make responsible decisions it fell a little short that night :S



I have spend a time or two at the DZ, during the day, as well as at night, in my time lol...

One benefit to being in the USA is we know what goes on over here, and we speak reasonably good English to... lol..

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Licencing it is one possibility. When i spoke of multiple companies hiring each other I meant multiple independent companies all of which you owned. You can own more then one company and as long as they keep at arms reach from each other, there are rules about that, a law suit affecting one company can not cross over to another. It's a means of hiding your real assets while sacrificing an empty shell to a law suit and bankruptcy. Again this is a lawyer question but I've seen set ups like this.

Lee
Lee
lee@velocitysportswear.com
www.velocitysportswear.com

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df8m1


I probably should not say that publicly, but I have become very frustrated with the growing dependence of gear to overcome the pilots lack of willingness to take action and fight till they can grab the grass in a last ditch effort.



There isn't any growing dependence on the gear, just like there isn't any "growing dependence on modern surgery". We just have people who would've been dead in the old days who aren't, because the modern gear/surgery made it possible to survive things that'd kill you previously. Have you noticed how "no pull" basically doesn't exist as a category of accidents anymore, at least not in places which have the audacity to assault your freedom (oh noes!) and require you to wear an AAD? That's exactly why. Now we have moved to dying mostly under perfectly functional canopies, precisely because our "growing dependence" made it hard not to have a canopy overhead before you impact.

In the same vein, I'm not only against the "freedom of choice" not to wear an AAD (dying unnecessarily and unintendedly is not a freedom), I'm also sceptical about the "AAD should give the pilot the ability to take command" line of thinking. Sure, it shouldn't step in unnecessarily and make things worse if it can help it, but if you go with "I'm the pilot, I'm making decisions here" when talking about an AAD, that is already a wrong starting point. AAD is a "you done fucked up now" device, if an AAD ever has to fire, you either fucked up massively and showed the lack of judgement for whatever reason, or something fucked you up and made it impossible for you to take action. You're by definition no longer capable of being in command. Now, you're absolutely right that it shouldn't fire unnecessarily, and if you can make an AAD capable of taking meaningful action during military static line deployments from 160m AGL, then obviously you're doing something right :). But how you approach a problem initially can influence the solution hugely, and that's where I'm starting to get worried.

Not to mention that a lot of the command pilots might want to take aren't even right, for instance reserve manufacturers do NOT want you to get stable prior to deployment, and in fact many reserves do NOT open best in belly to earth position.

PS. I'm a programmer by trade, so I'm more familiar than most with the fundamental limitations of being smart. The more a device can base its decisions on, and the more sophisticated the possible decisions, the less you can reason about what it will actually do. It's not even limited to machines; the reason people lock up and make no decision when they should is precisely because we're intelligent and that sometimes goes wrong. You don't usually get people forgetting to breathe the way they can forget they have a reserve handle when they can't locate the main handle, because breathing is an automatic activity independent of your smartness. So you want to be careful to limit smartness only to situations where it removes fundamental limitations of a less smart approach.
"Skydivers are highly emotional people. They get all excited about their magical black box full of mysterious life saving forces."

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I want to be sure I totally understand your position as I am getting some mixed messages from how I read your post.

I think you are in the “An AAD should be mandatory” camp or at least in the suburbs so to speak? That, either way, makes no difference to me, I just want to be sure I get what you are saying.

When I say someone is “gear dependent” I mean someone who will not jump without an AAD period, end of story. That concept is the source of many a debate, but as with your personal position AADs, (if I understand it correctly), mine will surly trigger debate as well, and that is OK, as long as people remain polite lol…

Do I also understand correctly that you are not in favor of allowing the “pilot” the ability or choice, to make decisions, regardless of the correctness of those decisions, during the period of free fall that is between the plane and the point of no return? Again, don’t give two flips one way or the other, just want to make sure I have not miss understood what you said.

We agree that an AAD should not fire unnecessarily; we just disagree about how one defines necessary… The AAD can only initiate reserve pack opening, and it can not cut the main away, (actually it could but it is not rigged to do so), so given that is the case, even if the “pilot” was screwing up, the AAD is not rigged to declare “My Plane” and take over.

Lets say that the pilot deploys his main and it starts to spin up well above the point of no return or even their preset reserve over head altitude. I think I understand you correctly when you say that the AAD should act on the pilots behalf prior to the point of no return, dumping the reserve into the main above the point of no return because it has detected that the pilot is screwing up.

My position is to let the pilot act or not, until the point of no return, after which point if the reserve will not be of any use, and dump the reserve to get more nylon over head. Keeping in mind that cutting away bellow 1000ft is not recommended and the point of no return is bellow 1000ft.

I think we agree that if the pilot is not able to take the proper action by the altitude that they have chosen to have a reserve over their head, than the AAD should take action as the pilot has set the AAD to do.

In regards to 525ft static line AAD activation, the point of no return is reached pretty quick.

Your last paragraph as me wondering if you are saying that gear should be made to allow a jumper who is improperly trained, or someone who should be on a gulf coarse (and we all know what I am talking about), to jump without concern for their lack of training or flat out ability to make decisions in a high pressure environment?

Please do not take how I explained how I am interpreting what you said as being hostile or sarcastic. I truly am interested in knowing your position, as I think it is, in some ways, radically different than mine, and that intrigues me.

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df8m1

I want to be sure I totally understand your position as I am getting some mixed messages from how I read your post.



You got some things right, some others need clarification. I unfortunately don't have the time to write a proper reply, so I'm just throwing this in as a placeholder until the time I do. I'll try to do it over the weekend, but there's jumps waiting to be done, so there might be a delay :)
"Skydivers are highly emotional people. They get all excited about their magical black box full of mysterious life saving forces."

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I absolutely disagree with your position. I don't have an AAD in any of my rigs. I wouldn't mind having one but it's not my priority. I am not afraid to jump without one just like I am not afraid to jump without my helmet and audible. I personally like partaking in a sport with adults that can make their own decisions and live with the consequences. Do you really want to dumb the gear down (smarten it up) to the point where no action is required on your part? If you want that then I fully support you paying to get your own gear to that point. I don't agree with it being mandated for me and my gear.
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lyosha


This scares the shit out of me. The reason I don't use a Cypres and instead use a Vigil is because of Cypres's "trust us, our black box knows best" attitude that's certifiably gotten people killed already. At least with a Vigil I know exactly what the behavior is, and adjust settings as I see fit.

The thing is it doesn't take a whole new AAD to do a really simple job - measure barometric pressure and fire when it detects enough speed at low enough altitude. So why do I need to know that my AAD just recalibrated? Are you solving a problem that doesn't exist?



I thought I would pass this little tidbit allong as it is in regards to "So why do I need to know that my AAD just recalibrated?"

Copied and pasted from the Vigil II manual (2013)
On page 12 it says:

"Your Vigil® will recalibrate itself for variation in the atmospheric pressure.

Attention: If after a certain time there is a large change in atmospheric pressure (more than 10 hPa),
it is recommended that you shut down and restart your Vigil® to ensure optimal precision."


So in your case, you need to keep track of the barometric pressure swing throughout the day to know if you need to turn off your AAD and then turn it back on to recalibrate it.

10 hPa = 260ft by the way...

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I'm almost tempted to start this as a new thread on "What would you like in your AAD?" But I'll keep it here.

Some thoughts on data. I like the fact that the vigil stores infomation on it's last jump. It's really good data and it's accessible. In the event of an accident it can be some of the best empirical data available. Although they can generally pull some data out of the cypress it's not nearly as accessible. But I would like to see more. Storage and memory has become cheep, small, and nearly indestructible. I don't know why we don't have electronic records built in to our rigs. I guess we're still old school. Hell, I'm old school but think how cool it would be to just plug in to a USB port and have it's complete history at your fingertips. I'm surprised it isn't being done with those little self powered antenna things but I'm not sure how much information they can hold or if it could be updated. An AAD would be so easy. I can't believe that it isn't being done. And it could hold a whole jump history. Not necessarily the full high speed data from each jump but thingas like number of jumps, dates, altitudes, opening altitudes, how many jumps from last battery change, activation's, etc. In terms of storage on a micro SD card it's nothing. Just the feed back on battery life would be invaluable. It might tell you a lot about the general health of the unit. I'm not sure how well it could self diagnose problems but for instance constant "drift" and re-calibration might tell you some thing about the condition of the pressure transducer. I don't know much about this so I'm just tossing out ideas but it could store error files. If for any reason it crashed or had to reset it self it could create a error log that could then be viewed and up loaded to the company for further analysis. Not just some vague error code that you have to look up but some thing that they could send to you for instant analysis. Remember the huge panic at the record attempt and how they had to jump through hoops to find and fix the problems. I just see it as an opportunity to drastically tighten up the design cycle. Not seeing it after four years but being able to get files downloaded by internet to see what happening with units all over the world. Hell I'd make it recommended if not mandatory at all repacks. Write an app where they could plug it into a phone with a micro USB cable and it down loads and looks for the latest firm ware update. It's become common in every other peace of technology. Why are we not doing it with AAD's?

In any case I'm going to go back to watching my movie.

Lee
Lee
lee@velocitysportswear.com
www.velocitysportswear.com

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Since you would have all this sensor data, have you given any thought to having it detect a clear "impact" and resulting clear loss of attitude control that a unconscious jumper would have? Then using this to deploy the reserve at a much higher altitude and increasing the chance that the jumper might regain consciousness before meeting the earth?

More interested in knowing if this would be possible, yes there are plenty of reason to debate whether it should for example deployment collision with another jumper due to unexpected opening or a high deployment causing the injured jumper to fly further away from the dropzone while under canopy.

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RiggerLee

Just the feed back on battery life would be invaluable.



As long as we're adding a micro USB port, put it on the control unit so that it actually recharges the battery while you download your log files over the media transfer protocol with the reserve still packed. B|

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RiggerLee

I'm almost tempted to start this as a new thread on "What would you like in your AAD?" But I'll keep it here.



Affordability. When you look at the manufacturing cost of the equipment and the components that are included, there is no reason for the price to be as high as it is. I think a manufacturer who could put out a reliable, competitive AAD at a much lower price would take over the AAD market almost entirely. That or it would change the AAD market and drive down the prices of the other AADs.
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I am going to try to address several posts in this one:

All I can say about what Lee said is great minds think alike ;) lol

I have a free fall data recorder concept flushed out and wanted to have it at PIA, but it was to low in priority due to low interest, and other things took its place in the time line leading up to the show.

Nickfrey:

I can not think of any unique enough trait that an unconscious jumper would have compared to what a conscious jumper can do. Without some Biometric input, (could be done) I do not see anyway to determine if a jumper passed out.

MKX:

I just had a PM discussion about plugging in external computers to the AAD. Here is the relevant part of my reply:

“You have to be careful about hooking external computers to operationally critical devices such as an AAD. The risk of corrupting the AAD software at a level that is not detectable via the interface and start up systems check is actually pretty good.

I have a micro USB port in the end of the interface to change the program during testing without opening the reserve, but production units will not have this feature as it is a direct link to the processor and can cause some interesting things to happen, even with ESD clamping diodes and RF shielding.

Blue tooth can be pretty low power and would allow wireless interaction as you have described, but then again, we traditionally try to limit RF radiation around AADs... Remember the Cypres issue with RF.”

In regards to rechargeable batteries, I am not a fan of them in this application as they generally are not as good in cold temperatures, vary in actual reusable capacity, and tend to generate heat during charging (fire).

Mcordell:

To your point of manufacturers over charging for an AAD, (that one made me smile). Mars has the cheapest unit available as far as I can tell, and by your metrics they should be taking over the market.. Maybe they are really stealthy about it? lol...:ph34r:

Hcsvader:

I think that when the Argus came out there was a bit of a buzz because it had a multi mode operating system, and it was small.

I spoke with the owner of Aviacom quite a but when I was considering making a replacement cutter for the Argus, so I can not go into any details regarding how it worked.

I will say that there are still Argus units in the air, and I can not recall hearing about the control units failing to operate properly... Cutters yes, but the control units seem to be ok, aside from the initial production process problem that was handled, and could happen to everyone, just look at Airtec's issue with the component.

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OK, here's a proper detailed reply:

df8m1

I think you are in the “An AAD should be mandatory” camp or at least in the suburbs so to speak?



Firmly so.

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When I say someone is “gear dependent” I mean someone who will not jump without an AAD period, end of story.



It's still not being "gear-dependent", unless you also want to classify people who won't jump without a properly packed reserve as such. It's acknowledging the fact that the reality sometimes does its best to fuck things up, despite our best intentions, and doing something about it to improve our chances. Parachutes sometimes fail, that's why we have reserves. Jumpers sometimes fail, that's why we have AADs. It's risk management, and of a very unintrusive kind: having a reserve or AAD doesn't change how you jump at all, until the time you actually need it.

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Do I also understand correctly that you are not in favor of allowing the “pilot” the ability or choice, to make decisions, regardless of the correctness of those decisions, during the period of free fall that is between the plane and the point of no return? Again, don’t give two flips one way or the other, just want to make sure I have not miss understood what you said.



No, of course not. You're skydiving between those two points, you already made the decision to jump out of a perfectly good plane. Just to make it clear, I don't think that skydiving is risk-free, nor am I under any illusion that it can ever be made so in any foreseeable future. Every time I get on a load, I explicitly acknowledge the possibility that I might die; if I didn't want to accept that risk, there's a simple solution: do not get on a plane with the intent to jump out of it. What I'm advocating is mitigating risks that can be effectively mitigated to prevent accidents that can be prevented.

However, I'm saying that once we enter the AAD fire area, thinking about "pilot choice" is the entirely wrong mindset. An AAD should ideally never fire unless actually needed, and we agree on that. But I'm describing it in terms of "don't act until necessary, then do everything to act", and you're describing it in terms of "pilot in command choice". Even though it will result in a very substantial overlap of design decisions, the mindset you start with can and will influence some crucial details in significant ways. It's true of all software (and other complex) projects, and an AAD is a complex software project.

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We agree that an AAD should not fire unnecessarily; we just disagree about how one defines necessary… The AAD can only initiate reserve pack opening, and it can not cut the main away, (actually it could but it is not rigged to do so), so given that is the case, even if the “pilot” was screwing up, the AAD is not rigged to declare “My Plane” and take over.

Lets say that the pilot deploys his main and it starts to spin up well above the point of no return or even their preset reserve over head altitude. I think I understand you correctly when you say that the AAD should act on the pilots behalf prior to the point of no return, dumping the reserve into the main above the point of no return because it has detected that the pilot is screwing up.



No, of course not, if it's actually above the point of no return. Once again, AAD is a "you done fucked up" device, its job is to wait until the last possible moment, then do all it can to save you. But as you correctly noted, the problem is detecting when it's the last possible moment, and the answer might be different depending on the data you have available. It's simply that "freedoms" and "choices" are not something you should be considering in AADs, because AADs are about requirements and necessities. To take your reserve snivel example, your AAD has data which allows it to fire early, before current, less smart AADs would, because it can tell that the "last possible moment" is approaching before other AADs do. So in effect, you have created a device that will fire when others on the market won't, so you have just made it more invasive and took a "decision" away from the pilot when other AADs wouldn't. Is that wrong? No, because that's precisely what was needed to save that pilot's life in a situation that'd otherwise be fatal.

But if it truly has detected that the pilot is screwing up, and can tell it's now or never, then yes, it should act in a way that maximises the chances of survival. That's what it's for.

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My position is to let the pilot act or not, until the point of no return, after which point if the reserve will not be of any use, and dump the reserve to get more nylon over head. Keeping in mind that cutting away bellow 1000ft is not recommended and the point of no return is bellow 1000ft.



Yes, exactly. If adding more nylon to the situation is the best you can do, then by Luna, you should add more nylon to the situation.

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I think we agree that if the pilot is not able to take the proper action by the altitude that they have chosen to have a reserve over their head, than the AAD should take action as the pilot has set the AAD to do.

In regards to 525ft static line AAD activation, the point of no return is reached pretty quick.



If you ask me, the point of no return has been passed a good while before, though of course a good starting point is not using ram-air systems designed for terminal deployment. Which makes me wonder, maybe you can make a BASE AAD with that... ;)

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Your last paragraph as me wondering if you are saying that gear should be made to allow a jumper who is improperly trained, or someone who should be on a gulf coarse (and we all know what I am talking about), to jump without concern for their lack of training or flat out ability to make decisions in a high pressure environment?



No, that'd be pointless. For one thing, people who positively cannot take the necessary decision-making and risks of skydiving have a simple solution: do not jump out of perfectly good planes (or jump tandem if you want the thrill but not the skills). And for the other, doing so would compromise both the safety and the enjoyment for people who can handle it.

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Please do not take how I explained how I am interpreting what you said as being hostile or sarcastic. I truly am interested in knowing your position, as I think it is, in some ways, radically different than mine, and that intrigues me.



I never thought it was either of those things, no worries. But as I'm both opinionated and vocal about it, it's important to me to be able to communicate those opinions in a way that will be understood clearly, which is not always trivial. Also because I come from a place which is about as radically different from the US as possible, both as it concerns skydiving and otherwise, and a lot of the time I cannot help but wonder at the ridiculous allowances you make to make possible things which basically everyone else has decided are a bad idea and no longer attract any discussion because they are solved problems. We do not have heated discussions on the merits of having AADs vs. not; we simply made them mandatory and no sane person takes it upon themselves to oppose that, because it's painfully obvious that the world has improved since we did so. It's actually funny to stumble upon a very, very dated local skydiving mag from 1992 explaining the plans to implement mandatory AAD ownership and addressing common objections, and depressing to realise that it's still a current issue in the US.
"Skydivers are highly emotional people. They get all excited about their magical black box full of mysterious life saving forces."

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mcordell

I absolutely disagree with your position. I don't have an AAD in any of my rigs. I wouldn't mind having one but it's not my priority. I am not afraid to jump without one just like I am not afraid to jump without my helmet and audible. I personally like partaking in a sport with adults that can make their own decisions and live with the consequences. Do you really want to dumb the gear down (smarten it up) to the point where no action is required on your part? If you want that then I fully support you paying to get your own gear to that point. I don't agree with it being mandated for me and my gear.



First of all, you will most certainly not "live with" the consequences of not having an AAD when you need it. Secondly, it won't be you who deals with the consequences, it will be others who will be cleaning up your remains, dealing with clueless press (although for once the headline of "skydiver dies after parachute fails to open" will be at least remotely accurate), analysing what went wrong, organising the funeral and grieving. Even if mandatory AADs were mandatory[*] solely for the dropzones wishing to reduce the number of people impacting at the premises, that'd already be a sufficient reason to make them so. Thirdly, the attitude that AADs are about your "decisions", and not many possible circumstances outside of your control, is indicative of an attitude towards safety I don't personally consider very adult.

It's not dumbing anything down, it's acknowledging the inherent risks and managing them like a responsible person so that time can be spent on other, fun things, like flying a perfectly good canopy into the ground and upholding Booth's law.

[*] They are mandatory here. We have no discussions about it, because as with many other things, unlike the US we have solved that problem and moved on.
"Skydivers are highly emotional people. They get all excited about their magical black box full of mysterious life saving forces."

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df8m1


MKX:

I just had a PM discussion about plugging in external computers to the AAD. Here is the relevant part of my reply:

“You have to be careful about hooking external computers to operationally critical devices such as an AAD. The risk of corrupting the AAD software at a level that is not detectable via the interface and start up systems check is actually pretty good.

I have a micro USB port in the end of the interface to change the program during testing without opening the reserve, but production units will not have this feature as it is a direct link to the processor and can cause some interesting things to happen, even with ESD clamping diodes and RF shielding.



Also remember that has USB can be used to take over the unit's memory and there's nothing you can do about it. Anything with a USB port can have its memory accessed and/or changed, and it's impossible to prevent it because of how USB is implemented. Yes, anything, including your phone or your AAD, if it has a USB port.

Secondly, remember about limiting what it does. Any feature whatsoever added makes the whole more complex and less reliable. You know, like the smart TVs which can actually crash and require a reboot when changing channels? You really don't want your AAD to lock up and require a reboot while in the air. AADs should be reliable more than anything, so they should do as little as possible.

Thirdly, I already have a unit which logs my jumps. I wear it on my wrists, it's called a Viso. Sadly without USB dowloads, though an Altitrack offers that. Other electronic altimeters and freefall computers also offer it. Data collecting in a black box fashion is useful for a variety of reasons, but it doesn't mean your AAD should now turn into a family entertainment unit.
"Skydivers are highly emotional people. They get all excited about their magical black box full of mysterious life saving forces."

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mathrick

...the attitude that AADs are about your "decisions", and not many possible circumstances outside of your control, is indicative of an attitude towards safety I don't personally consider very adult.



And you are entitled to your opinion of my attitude. My response isn't intended as an attack against you. I don't think requiring people to spend over $1000 on an AAD to allow them to jump is a very adult attitude so I suppose we will have to agree to disagree. Your believe that AADs are infallible (or apparent belief) is definitely where we are not going to see eye to eye. Can I die through my own inaction or mistakes? Yes. Can I die through a malfunction of an AAD? Yes. I would rather live with the risks of making a mistake that kills me than being forced to live with the risk of my gear killing me without my input. I realize the risk of an AAD malfunctioning and killing me is very low, but it is there. I don't and won't agree with any government mandating that risk because they believe it's in my best interest. I'm not a child.

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[*] They are mandatory here. We have no discussions about it, because as with many other things, unlike the US we have solved that problem and moved on.



Glad to know you don't have fatalities there since AADs are mandated, at least not low pull fatalities right? How many more fatalities did the US have last year that you didn't due to this "problem" that you guys have realized and mitigated?
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To your point of manufacturers over charging for an AAD, (that one made me smile). Mars has the cheapest unit available as far as I can tell, and by your metrics they should be taking over the market.. Maybe they are really stealthy about it? lol...Sly



No I didn't mean dropping the price by a small margin to be the cheapest. I meant dropping the price to where it was a significant difference. I'm not an expert in these electronics but it seems to my untrained brain that these units don't cost that much to manufacture beyond the initial R&D. Real question because I legitimately don't know, but could these be manufactured and sold for $500-$600 and still turn a reasonable profit? I understand the profit margin would be significantly less than selling them for $1000 or more but would volume make up for that?
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Thank you for following up, now I am really intrigued about some things. I think there may be some communication issues based on terminology or specific measurements that are referenced in word as apposed to in actual number values.

I really want to correctly understand your position just as much as I want you to correctly understand mine. In the end I know we will not agree with each other about some things, but we will at least be basing that from a good and accurate understanding of our positions.

I apologize for the long post, but given that you are presenting a philosophy from a different country that is very different from the USA, I think it is critically important to continue to brake down the individual thoughts in context of the whole, so first time readers have the complete string of thought to review, instead of bits and pieces that can be taken out of context.

mathrick

OK, here's a proper detailed reply:



df8m1

I think you are in the “An AAD should be mandatory” camp or at least in the suburbs so to speak?



mathrick


Firmly so.



OK

df8m1


When I say someone is “gear dependent” I mean someone who will not jump without an AAD period, end of story.



mathrick


It's still not being "gear-dependent", unless you also want to classify people who won't jump without a properly packed reserve as such. It's acknowledging the fact that the reality sometimes does its best to fuck things up, despite our best intentions, and doing something about it to improve our chances. Parachutes sometimes fail, that's why we have reserves. Jumpers sometimes fail, that's why we have AADs. It's risk management, and of a very unobtrusive kind: having a reserve or AAD doesn't change how you jump at all, until the time you actually need it.



I will refine my “gear dependent” positions a bit based on your reply. I do not know about other countries, but in the USA we are required by the FAA to have a reserve parachute that is in date in order to jump from a plane. As such, a reserve is not an option and is part of the “minimum” required gear to legally jump from a plane in the USA.

An AAD however, here in the USA, is not required by the government, although some DZs do require them in order to jump there. A lot of the Reserve containers in the rigs used her in the USA are based on designs TSO certified before cutter activated AADs were prevalent, and there has been some compatibility issues that have been found that can cause a bad ending to ones day. There have also been cutter issues with various AADs that again could result in a bad ending to ones day.

There have been several jumpers go in after an AAD fire for some reason (YTBD), and there have been people killed from AADs going off at a bad time.

I blame the “dependency” on marketing that only brags about how many saves they have, but do not mention how many have been killed because of it, or how many died despite having it. I bet when you ask a the average jumper who will not jump without an AAD about the risks of having an AAD, they would have no idea, but they probably would be able to parrot back the marketing information, and that is where the problem lies with me. A choice based on an informed decision is fine, but one made in fear is not, especially when that fear is not complete.

df8m1


Do I also understand correctly that you are not in favor of allowing the “pilot” the ability or choice, to make decisions, regardless of the correctness of those decisions, during the period of free fall that is between the plane and the point of no return? Again, don’t give two flips one way or the other, just want to make sure I have not miss understood what you said.



mathrick


No, of course not. You're skydiving between those two points, you already made the decision to jump out of a perfectly good plane. Just to make it clear, I don't think that skydiving is risk-free, nor am I under any illusion that it can ever be made so in any foreseeable future. Every time I get on a load, I explicitly acknowledge the possibility that I might die; if I didn't want to accept that risk, there's a simple solution: do not get on a plane with the intent to jump out of it. What I'm advocating is mitigating risks that can be effectively mitigated to prevent accidents that can be prevented.

However, I'm saying that once we enter the AAD fire area, thinking about "pilot choice" is the entirely wrong mindset. An AAD should ideally never fire unless actually needed, and we agree on that. But I'm describing it in terms of "don't act until necessary, then do everything to act", and you're describing it in terms of "pilot in command choice". Even though it will result in a very substantial overlap of design decisions, the mindset you start with can and will influence some crucial details in significant ways. It's true of all software (and other complex) projects, and an AAD is a complex software project.



Agh! Here is something that I think we are closer than we think, but there is something not being expressed or understood.
“However, I'm saying that once we enter the AAD fire area, thinking about "pilot choice" is the entirely wrong mindset.”

I think the major problem with our “understanding of each other” is based on what our definition of “AAD firing area” is.

I have stated that the pilot will have the ability to set the “activation altitude” (to use traditional terms), that they wish, declaring that, if , after this altitude is reached, they are still falling above the magic speed, then they want the AAD to fire.

That is a simple operating protocol, and has resulted in 2 canopies out more than once. There most likely will be a “window” of altitude between the pilots preset activation altitude, and the lowest altitude that a reserve can be activated and still work, (I know about opening speed differences, that is not the point of this spacik example).

Given that this AAD will be able to detect if the pilot has activated his main just priot to the preset activation altitude, it will dealy the reserve activation to allow the main to open, unlike standard AADs that will most likely fire when the pilot snivels past the preset activation altitude.

The Window that this AAD will delay the reserve activation will be determined by the distance from the pilot selected activation altitude, and what I call “the point or no return” altitude, which in the time in between, the pilot will have the ability to either determine the main has malfunctioned and release it, if they so choose, but, if at the point of no return, the jumper is still falling too fast, this AAD will then activate the reserve, into the main given this scenario, in an effort to slow them down.


df8m1


We agree that an AAD should not fire unnecessarily; we just disagree about how one defines necessary… The AAD can only initiate reserve pack opening, and it can not cut the main away, (actually it could but it is not rigged to do so), so given that is the case, even if the “pilot” was screwing up, the AAD is not rigged to declare “My Plane” and take over.

Lets say that the pilot deploys his main and it starts to spin up well above the point of no return or even their preset reserve over head altitude. I think I understand you correctly when you say that the AAD should act on the pilots behalf prior to the point of no return, dumping the reserve into the main above the point of no return because it has detected that the pilot is screwing up.



mathrick


No, of course not, if it's actually above the point of no return. Once again, AAD is a "you done fucked up" device, its job is to wait until the last possible moment, then do all it can to save you. But as you correctly noted, the problem is detecting when it's the last possible moment, and the answer might be different depending on the data you have available. It's simply that "freedoms" and "choices" are not something you should be considering in AADs, because AADs are about requirements and necessities. To take your reserve snivel example, your AAD has data which allows it to fire early, before current, less smart AADs would, because it can tell that the "last possible moment" is approaching before other AADs do. So in effect, you have created a device that will fire when others on the market won't, so you have just made it more invasive and took a "decision" away from the pilot when other AADs wouldn't. Is that wrong? No, because that's precisely what was needed to save that pilot's life in a situation that'd otherwise be fatal.

But if it truly has detected that the pilot is screwing up, and can tell it's now or never, then yes, it should act in a way that maximises the chances of survival. That's what it's for.



We definitely differ in regards to how to maximize the chance of survival. If there is a main canopy out that is not generating enough drag to slow the jumper, and that canopy is not released prior to the reserve being deployed, the chances are very good that the main that is still attached will negatively effect the reserve deployment of an otherwise perfectly good reserve, the result of which could be deadly, however not any more deadly than doing nothing, given the scenario. My philosophy given a main over head, is to delay potentially sealing the jumpers fate until the last possible moment, giving the pilot every available moment to clear the air over the reserve prior to reserve deployment thus IMOP providing the maximum chance of survival, again given the prestated scenario. We will have to agree to disagree in this area as well.

df8m1


My position is to let the pilot act or not, until the point of no return, after which point if the reserve will not be of any use, and dump the reserve to get more nylon over head. Keeping in mind that cutting away bellow 1000ft is not recommended and the point of no return is bellow 1000ft.



mathrick


Yes, exactly. If adding more nylon to the situation is the best you can do, then by Luna, you should add more nylon to the situation.



df8m1


I think we agree that if the pilot is not able to take the proper action by the altitude that they have chosen to have a reserve over their head, than the AAD should take action as the pilot has set the AAD to do.

In regards to 525ft static line AAD activation, the point of no return is reached pretty quick.



mathrick


If you ask me, the point of no return has been passed a good while before, though of course a good starting point is not using ram-air systems designed for terminal deployment. Which makes me wonder, maybe you can make a BASE AAD with that... ;)



I have actually talked to some BASE jumpers about that application after someone I know went in BASE jumping. Not totally out of the question, but don’t get in line for one any time soon lol..

df8m1


Your last paragraph as me wondering if you are saying that gear should be made to allow a jumper who is improperly trained, or someone who should be on a gulf coarse (and we all know what I am talking about), to jump without concern for their lack of training or flat out ability to make decisions in a high pressure environment?



mathrick


No, that'd be pointless. For one thing, people who positively cannot take the necessary decision-making and risks of skydiving have a simple solution: do not jump out of perfectly good planes (or jump tandem if you want the thrill but not the skills). And for the other, doing so would compromise both the safety and the enjoyment for people who can handle it.



We agree there, so we have a few areas where we agree lol..

df8m1


Please do not take how I explained how I am interpreting what you said as being hostile or sarcastic. I truly am interested in knowing your position, as I think it is, in some ways, radically different than mine, and that intrigues me.



mathrick


I never thought it was either of those things, no worries. But as I'm both opinionated and vocal about it, it's important to me to be able to communicate those opinions in a way that will be understood clearly, which is not always trivial. Also because I come from a place which is about as radically different from the US as possible, both as it concerns skydiving and otherwise, and a lot of the time I cannot help but wonder at the ridiculous allowances you make to make possible things which basically everyone else has decided are a bad idea and no longer attract any discussion because they are solved problems. We do not have heated discussions on the merits of having AADs vs. not; we simply made them mandatory and no sane person takes it upon themselves to oppose that, because it's painfully obvious that the world has improved since we did so. It's actually funny to stumble upon a very, very dated local skydiving mag from 1992 explaining the plans to implement mandatory AAD ownership and addressing common objections, and depressing to realize that it's still a current issue in the US.



I truly like debating with someone who can do so intelligently as well as calmly lol.. Every one sees things a little different, and there is more often than not, good points on both sides of any argument if both parties are open minded enough to see them.

You seem pretty confident that after AADs were required where you are, that fatalities were reduced, significantly I would think in order to be able to point to this one change. There for I must assume that the number of AAD fires (saves) must have equally gone up? Correct?

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mcordell

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To your point of manufacturers over charging for an AAD, (that one made me smile). Mars has the cheapest unit available as far as I can tell, and by your metrics they should be taking over the market.. Maybe they are really stealthy about it? lol...Sly



No I didn't mean dropping the price by a small margin to be the cheapest. I meant dropping the price to where it was a significant difference. I'm not an expert in these electronics but it seems to my untrained brain that these units don't cost that much to manufacture beyond the initial R&D. Real question because I legitimately don't know, but could these be manufactured and sold for $500-$600 and still turn a reasonable profit? I understand the profit margin would be significantly less than selling them for $1000 or more but would volume make up for that?



Ok, now think about what you just said " I'm not an expert in these electronics but it seems to my untrained brain that these units don't cost that much to manufacture beyond the initial R&D."

LOL... Do you often make statements where in the beginning and mid way thorough the statement, you point out that you have no idea what you are talking about, but you are fairly confident that you are right? lol ;)

Are you in sales?? LOL :P

All in good fun... but seriously now. Lets say for the sake of argument that it cost $10.00 to make a widget, and they sit on a self at a store with a $1000.00 price tag on it. There are many philosophies about pricing structures to reference, but lets just play here a little...

So lets say that you really want to buy that widget but you think that it is too expensive because of what it cost to make it. You then have a couple of options: 1 buy it and enjoy it, 2 not buy it and do without it, 3 hope that no one buys it at that price and the price comes down, 4 make it yourself..

I am have a full machine shop and electronics capability and I often make things my self, but most everyone else does not have that capability, so, if they want something they have to pay the going rate for it if they want it.

Lets look at this another way... Lets say that, when broken down to an hourly rate, it costs you $5.00 pre hour to live. Now you go apply for a job and ask $20.00 per hour, Why should the employer pay more than say $7.00 given it only costs you $5.00 per hour to live :S Crazy thinking right? lol


I hope you have a sense of humor lol..:o

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mcordell

***...the attitude that AADs are about your "decisions", and not many possible circumstances outside of your control, is indicative of an attitude towards safety I don't personally consider very adult.



And you are entitled to your opinion of my attitude. My response isn't intended as an attack against you. I don't think requiring people to spend over $1000 on an AAD to allow them to jump is a very adult attitude so I suppose we will have to agree to disagree.


Skydiving is expensive, that is just one part of it. You're dropping $6000+ on a rig already (since we're talking new prices), plus $400 on the helmet, $500 suit, tunnel time, camera, jump tickets, ..., so clearly you weren't expecting a cheap hobby. Also my local rigger offers rentals for a monthly fee if you cannot afford the full upfront price, plus financing arrangements, and I expect he's not the only one in the world. The price is simply not an argument against an AAD requirement, $1000 is nothing compared to being dead. AADs are also extremely predictable in their resell value, so you're never really paying the full price unless you use them for their full service life, which comes down to $80/yr (Cypres) or less if it's a Vigil. $80 is less than you're going to spend on beer.

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Your believe that AADs are infallible (or apparent belief) is definitely where we are not going to see eye to eye.



I don't believe AADs are infallible. I do know however that AADs have shown themselves to be extremely good at reducing a particular class of risk inherent in skydiving to basically negligible levels.

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Can I die through my own inaction or mistakes? Yes. Can I die through a malfunction of an AAD? Yes. I would rather live with the risks of making a mistake that kills me than being forced to live with the risk of my gear killing me without my input. I realize the risk of an AAD malfunctioning and killing me is very low, but it is there.



This is just a rehash of the old seatbelt argument, and it's equally or more fallacious. I'm not familiar with any incident where improper AAD activation has caused a fatality or injury (not talking about FXC here, only the modern electronic breed). I'm familiar with AADs (extremely rarely) not working when they should, but even in the Argus incident which eventually grounded them all, there is no indication the possible loop entrapment with top cutter arrangement actually was a factor in the fatality. A faulty cutter could prevent an otherwise good reserve release, but as far as we know, there was no deployment attempted in that case. And if you pull after your AAD has fired, you're not going to live for long anyway...

So in essence, you'd rather die in a way that has demonstrably and repeatedly happened before the introduction of AADs, than in a way that has never happened and remains in the realm of science fiction. That is trading in for literally infinitely worse odds, good luck with that.

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I don't and won't agree with any government mandating that risk because they believe it's in my best interest. I'm not a child.



The "government" (actually it's only the parachuting association for us, though it does encompass 100% of operating DZs here) also has other interests than babysitting you: a fatality is an expensive affair (as I've previously explained), and making you wear an AAD is a great way of reducing one of the most obvious ways in which a fatality can happen when you decide to jump out of a plane.

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***
[*] They are mandatory here. We have no discussions about it, because as with many other things, unlike the US we have solved that problem and moved on.



Glad to know you don't have fatalities there since AADs are mandated, at least not low pull fatalities right? How many more fatalities did the US have last year that you didn't due to this "problem" that you guys have realized and mitigated?

http://www.uspa.org/tabid/81/Default.aspx?Cat=NP

(And the number is this low because most US skydivers do in fact have an AAD)
"Skydivers are highly emotional people. They get all excited about their magical black box full of mysterious life saving forces."

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mcordell

No I didn't mean dropping the price by a small margin to be the cheapest. I meant dropping the price to where it was a significant difference. I'm not an expert in these electronics but it seems to my untrained brain that these units don't cost that much to manufacture beyond the initial R&D. Real question because I legitimately don't know, but could these be manufactured and sold for $500-$600 and still turn a reasonable profit? I understand the profit margin would be significantly less than selling them for $1000 or more but would volume make up for that?



In things like a Cypres, R&D is the cost, as is sourcing parts and labour which will consistently pass quality checks, plus the quality checks themselves, sunk cost of remade or discarded units, etc. Then you have the service & inspection (even if they charge you for it), collecting field data, reacting to anything unusual or unintended that was reported or detected, analysing the data for anomalies, writing new firmware to correct what you found out, testing the hell out of it again, .... I have no idea how much of a profit a unit turns, but looking at the price of the electronics is misleading in high-reliability, small-volume applications like this. You can just as well assume the electronics are free and it won't change the unit cost of manufacture appreciably.

Given that almost all actual costs are upfront or running maintenance, and the high cost of switching for users of existing units with years of service life ahead of them, I doubt the market is anywhere big enough to make any kind of price war a viable strategy. By the time anyone will trust your cheapo AAD (just marketing a new one is hard, marketing a new one 40% cheaper than everything else and telling people to trust it their life is going to be super-hard) enough for you to see sales in volume, you'll be bankrupt. That's not to say that Airtec or even MarS aren't seeing a nice unit profit. But we simply don't have the market depth to make up in volume what you lose in unit profit if you want to keep a company with expensive R&D afloat.
"Skydivers are highly emotional people. They get all excited about their magical black box full of mysterious life saving forces."

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This is in regards to your post on mandatory AAD's.

I think that you are correct in it being about proper and adult risk management. Where the disagreement lies is in the conclusions that you have reached. I'm not disagreeing with your personal decision but not every one has come to the same conclusion. I would point out that their logic and their decision is no less valid then yours. And I'm not just being politically correct when I say that. The choice to jump with an AAd is not that cut and dry. Modern AAD, I'm speaking of the ones on the market today are very good well designed units that can be depended upon to do exactly what they are designed to do, which may include kill you. A common misunderstanding is that an AAD is designed to save your life. It is not. It is designed to fire a cutter when it meets certain parameters. This may save you, or it could kill you, or it could try to save you and through no fault of it's own through the failure of other parts of the system fail. And that is not some vague philosophical argument. We have seen all of the above. I watched a student smashed to peaces in a two out when the canopies went unstable and turned into a down plane right above the ground. And don't say that he could just cutaway because there have been cases where the reserve deployed through the risers and lines of the main. It's not that uncommon. I think Kirk is going to put out a copy of his malfunction mode lecture from PIA but I don't have the link here. That AAD fire took what would have been an embarrassing incident and turned it into a life changing event by the perfect and correct function of an AAD. The Swoopers killed when their reserves fired on landing were killed by a perfect and flawlessly functioning AAD. It was doing exactly what it was designed to do. Which is not to save your life. When an AAD fires and the reserve is too low to open it can be for a number of reasons. Often the AAD is functioning perfectly but do to the limitations in it's design it could not be set to fire higher or it would become an even grater danger to its user. This is not a malfunction of the AAD.

In short these devices as they are currently designed are as good as they will ever or can ever be. The choice to have one on your back is not as simple as you are making it out to be. It is a risk management decision. And there are people that have come to an informed and valid decision that does not agree with yours.

What's happening here is the design of a totally new generation of AAD that will allow a whole new set of firing algorithms. It has the potential to tighten these parameters so that it will not fire in circumstances where you do not want it to. In other words more likely to save your life and less likely to kill you.

Examples. A current AAD fires at 1,100 ft. To be clear they could not set it to fire any higher then 1,100 feet for fear of a two out. But that means that it will not fire till 850 feet which is proving to be too low. That's becoming fuzzier because now that they have successfully lobbied for a change in the FAR's. They are now allowing that activation altitude to be raised manually. This raises the low end but it also pushes the high end up farther into the range of the AAD killing a jumper who wold have been perfectly fine but is now facing a double entanglement with his reserve. This new AAD could potentially tighten that error between the low and high firing altitudes from 250 feet to 70 feet. That alone is huge. It means the scary low end can come up with out further endangering the jumper. By looking for signs of opening event it could further widen that safety margin avoiding two outs.

And that's just one example of how this unit could be a marked improvement over every other AAD on the market. Every thing in this design is weighting the scales in that decision making process as to whether or not to jump an AAD towards desirability. That's why I'm excited for these guys. It's a better mouse trap.

Lee
Lee
lee@velocitysportswear.com
www.velocitysportswear.com

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And clearly people where you are must be having more money than a lot of people over here. I can think of 3-4 people over here who put together a complete rig (without AAD) for $500-$1000. Older rigs, F111 mains, not freefly friendly, but perfectly safe and it keeps people in the air who otherwise would not have been able to skydive. I wouldn't want to not have those people in the sport. I was just like them years ago when I started jumping. An AAD would have been the sport unaffordable.

And multiple swoopers have been killed by them - before Adrian Nichols was killed by his, Airtec swore that a Cypres could never fire in any kind of swooping condition. With modern swooping canopies, that task is now even easier which is why there is now a swoop mode.

If you look back in the forums there have been numerous cases of severe injuries caused by AADs firing causing two out situations.

Do I think AADs are a good idea for most people? Yep. Do I think their software and design have a lot of room for improvement? Yes..

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mathrick

So in essence, you'd rather die in a way that has demonstrably and repeatedly happened before the introduction of AADs, than in a way that has never happened and remains in the realm of science fiction. That is trading in for literally infinitely worse odds, good luck with that.



You really should do more research on both sides rather than just research that supports your own position. People HAVE died as a result of the AAD firing. This was noted above by other posters. I have had an AAD. I sold it. I own and jump 3 rigs. I make a conscious decision not to jump with an AAD for my own reasons. I do think there is a risk having one. I also know there is a risk not having one. I own and jump 3 rigs so I would have to buy 3 of them. I have no interest in spending that much money on AADs. I don't believe them to be that necessary. They are nice to have, but not necessary. One of my rigs doesn't have an RSL either. It seems based on your logic I died back in 2008 when I started. I guess I just haven't realized it yet.

Like I said, you are entitled to your opinion but please realize that it is just that. It's an opinion. I have a different one and that's ok too. I'm entitled to my opinion and since I jump at a DZ where AADs are not required, I get to exercise my own judgment on what is best for me.

Thanks for wishing me luck. It seems you believe I need it.
www.facebook.com/FlintHillsRigging

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