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Ron

USPA's role in enforcing aircraft maintenance issues (was - Incidents thread)

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skyfox2007

While I agree with the idea that the buck stops with the FAA, the USPA should step up and enforce this program per the FAA's "endorsement" in the FAR to "self-regulate" our sport.

The last thing we want is for the FAA to micromanage skydiving.

Like I said in a previous post a few months back, all it takes is for a our community to witness a bad year, underestimate the risks of some new technology, or make headlines for the FAA to step in.

If "pledges are meaningless," we need to do something about that before big brother does.

-JD-



I know it goes against the grain, but if USPA, and its members become aware of serious deficiencies/violations, should they not become whistle blowers to FAA?

Perhaps after a warning to the particular operation to clean up its act first.

Ultimately people are responsible for their own safety, and of course, can choose to walk away from a particular place, but that leaves the problem in place, and risks the lives of others.

If there is an incident that then costs the lives of others, people need to examine their own conscience as to whether they should have spoken up when they knew there was a problem. They need to accept some of the responsibility in such a case, IMO.
My computer beat me at chess, It was no match for me at kickboxing....

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>2- Why would it increase costs to skydivers?

Because there are operators out there now who do substandard maintenance, and can thus save money and lower prices. Eliminating such practices will increase prices (on average.)



I would think DZO’s that are doing the proper maintenance would be all for more FAA oversight. It would level the playing field.

I don’t see why any DZ’s would have to raise prices. Prices are roughly the same DZ to DZ and at least some are doing all the maintenance at those prices.

Basically, I do not see a down side for jumpers and increased FAA aircraft inspections.

Derek V

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the USPA has failed to prioritize it's stated mission goals by placing "competition" ahead of "safety." The latter should come before the former.



So how did aligning USPA licenses with FAI decrease safety?

By simple logic: If A is a priority over B, then if increasing B reduces A--you are violating the rule that A is a priority
(although even then, if B is increased by a factor of 100 while A is decreased by a factor of 1--one could still argue that it is in keeping with the priorities)

But if increasing B (benefits for competitors) does not affect A (safety) at all, there is simply no conflict, and it is perfectly aligned with the priorities.

In other words: personally, safety is my priority. But I also like to save money. Buying a 50 jump package at my DZ saves money and does not decrease my safety, so I am in line with my priorities, even though buying 50 jumps does not increase my safety.

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I'm not saying the USPA's decision reduced skydiving safety, but I am saying that the decision to peg USPA standards to the FAI's for competitive purposes prioritized competition over safety in this instance.

Are we any less safe today than we were before the USPA made this decision? No.

Did the USPA lose out on an opportunity to enact meaningful change that could have made us safer? Yes.

Their decision to change the licensing standards does nothing to emphasize the particular hazards of canopy flight - the one area of our sport that statistics have proven more dangerous than any other.

-JD-

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Did the USPA lose out on an opportunity to enact meaningful change that could have made us safer?


I see. That's probably true--but that would have nothing to do with that particular decision.
If an opportunity was lost then only because something else wasn't done for safety in this area. The two are completely independent, unless you are saying the USPA can only make ONE change at a time and by making this one change they lost the opportunity to make another change.

Also, since it is regarding the C License (and your jump numbers indicate you either have acquired this license recently or are still working on it) What would you suggest should be added to the requirements regarding canopy flight?
There is already the requirement for 25 documented landings within 7 feet of target. Personally I find this already quite tough--if you are truly honest with this (and rightly so) considering it is not easy on a regular DZ to set up jumps ahead of time that allow you to pick a target like that and guarantee that it will be free when you actually try to land there. What tougher requirements would you like? (I find the FS requirements that were aded almost inconsequential--I had them already easily fulfilled by my B License--but I admit, others might have different jump habits)

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>Are we any less safe today than we were before the USPA made this decision? No.

Correct.

>Did the USPA lose out on an opportunity to enact meaningful change that
>could have made us safer? Yes.

Yes.

Did you lose on an opportunity to enact meaningful change, when you decided to complain on a forum rather than work towards improving the sport? Yes.

>Their decision to change the licensing standards does nothing to emphasize the
>particular hazards of canopy flight . . .

Correct. Neither does the rules for high altitude jumps. But they are still useful.

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>Did the USPA lose out on an opportunity to enact meaningful change that
>could have made us safer? Yes.

Yes.



billvon, I am really curious as to what you think would make canopy flight safer (in terms of licensing requirements or other oversight, or anything else the USPA can do.) It seems you have thought of this, and maybe others on the board have as well. Are there any suggestions or ideas floating around?

Clearly, I don't have too much experience here, but reading the fatalities section of Parachutist over the past couple years, it seems to me that a large percentage of canopy fatalities (and based on what I see at my dropzones an even larger percentage of injuries) are coming from high performance landings. But only a limited (though increasing?) number of skydivers are even getting into that. So, making some kind of skills in that area mandatory for certain licenses seems like it would just force everyone into that aspect of skydiving, which I can't imagine to decrease the danger--so what are possible suggestions? Or is it more about landing patterns and canopy traffic and such?
It seems that many here argue SOMETHING has to be done, but what are actual reasonable suggestions?

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Why label me a complainer? Is it because you disagree with what I have said? It's interesting - or should I say concerning - to see a forum moderator label or attack someone else for an opinion or an idea that they've politely expressed. Aren't you supposed to be guarding against that?

There is a fine line between complaint (AKA whining) and discussion. I view the former as lacking logical basis or to win attention and about as productive as airing dirty laundry. Nothing I've said here meets that definition. I welcome disagreement and constructive criticism - provided it goes both ways - and think it a sign of healthy civil society.

And positing and exchanging ideas - be it here or at the DZ or at the local watering hole after a day in the air - is working toward improving the sport. We can't share great ideas or pass on lessons learned if we keep our mouths shut. And with everyone online these days, a forum very efficient way to communicate.

Good point on canopy flight, but the statistics speak for themselves. I'm not arguing that the USPA's reasoning for the license changes was for competitive purposes. That's obvious. But like I told PEEK, the USPA should have put safety first in light of the statistics. If we're going to change rules, we ought to do so for the right reasons and maximize the benefits. These changes benefit only a small group within our community and demonstrate USPA's willingness to put competition ahead of safety.

-JD-

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You're right, enhancing safety and competition or not mutually exclusive.

But do you think the USPA really had safety in mind when they made these license changes? Mike Mullins directly admitted to me in another thread that the USPA made these changes to make it easier on our athletes - that safety was not the basis for their decision. Wow, really? Wasn't safety placed before competition in the USPA's own mission statement?

Yes, the USPA could pass another set of changes tomorrow to improve the former and I believe it should. But I believe the USPA could have been more efficient and comprehensive in pursuing its stated mission had it made rule changes that served more than one mission purpose and more than only one small segment of our community.

I feel jumpers should be limited to specific wing-loading maximums based on license level, thus preventing folks from down-sizing too quickly. Yes, the accuracy standards are quite tough, but how often do S&TA's really enforce them? I only have 200 or so jumps, but I've jumped at some 15 DZs and the S&TAs I've met rarely go to the hangar entrance to watch their up-jumpers land, much less run out their with measuring tape in hand. While a measuring tape-wielding S&TA would probably be counter-productive, I don't feel our DZs do enough enforce the accuracy standards. Every DZ should have a designated swoop lane - most places I've jumped don't. And swooping should require a D-license.

Yes, I'm ready to catch some flak, but keep in mind that I don't have a C or D-license yet and these rules would apply to me just as they would apply to any other up-jumper.

-JD-

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But do you think the USPA really had safety in mind when they made these license changes? Mike Mullins directly admitted to me in another thread that the USPA made these changes to make it easier on our athletes - that safety was not the basis for their decision. Wow, really? Wasn't safety placed before competition in the USPA's own mission statement?

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That is NOT what I said. The changes in the licenses were made to ensure that our licenses were in line with the FAI/IPC Certificates of Competency that are required for their sanctioned competitions. Without these changes, it could result in our jumpers not being able to compete in these events. I fail to see how that makes it "easier on our athletes", it allows our athletes to compete.

From the USPA Constitution, a duty of USPA is to: "to select and train the United States Parachute Team for world competition." We cannot have a US Team if the FAI/IPC will not allow our jumpers to compete due to a lack of a "Certificate of Competency".

Mike Mullins

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Mike,

Firstly, the entire basis of my above argument is that the USPA put the good of the athletes ahead of our community's safety in pegging our most recent licensing requirements to the FAI's standards. You just confirmed that the intent behind that decision was competition and not safety – for the second time.

The former and latter both feature in the USPA's mission statement, but safety comes before competition. I feel - and I don't think I'm alone here - that the USPA has its priorities out of order.

Additionally, if you're going to change the rules that affect everyone, they should ALSO benefit everyone. These new license changes affect everyone, but only benefit a small segment of our community. We fun jumpers shouldn't have to "jump" through more hoops just so an athlete can compete overseas.

I'm also not buying the counter-argument that these license changes make skydiving safer as they focus on the phase of our sport that is already the safest to begin with: free fall. They do nothing to address the statistically, more dangerous canopy phase. From a safety perspective, the license changes don’t pass the Willie Sutton test.

Lastly, these licensing changes most certainly DO make it easier for our athletes. Per FAI Code – section 5, paragraph 2.4, item (5), page 5: “A NAC may have different requirements for National Certificate Categories than those set out above, including specific proficiency tests.”
IOW, the USPA could issue a separate sporting/competition license for its athletes if it wanted to.

Was it just easier for the USPA to peg our National Airsport Control (NAC) standards to the FAIs than to create a new category for our athletes? The facts definitely support that idea and I don’t appreciate being asked to “jump” over a higher bar just so that the US team can go do its thing…unless that higher bar is erected to correct a safety-related deficiency that sound statistical analysis supports.

Yes, I’ll reach out to the FAI myself to confirm the above and will even post the response here when I do receive it.

-JD-

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Are you aware that USPA's CoP (license) standards are are much lower than pretty much anywhere else in the world? Can you tell me how raising them hurts anyone?

In reality working a little harder for a D license will not harm anyone. It will actually make the rating more meaningful. The fact is, the rest of the world has little respect for USPA licenses. As opposed to instructor ratings, those are generally well regarded.

(Let the "nosy foreigner" bashing begin!)

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You're right, we should elevate the standards. We can agree there.

What' frustrates me is WHY the USPA raised the proficiency bar, in this case. The "why" is just as important as the "what."

No nosy foreigner bashing from me...I've lived a good part of my life overseas. We could do with some fresh ideas, provided their generally accepted and not forced. We weren't given a choice about the USPA pegging its standards to the FAI's.

-JD-

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If that's the case than why do so many forgeiners appliy for USPA licenses?

gowlerk

Are you aware that USPA's CoP (license) standards are are much lower than pretty much anywhere else in the world? Can you tell me how raising them hurts anyone?

In reality working a little harder for a D license will not harm anyone. It will actually make the rating more meaningful. The fact is, the rest of the world has little respect for USPA licenses. As opposed to instructor ratings, those are generally well regarded.

(Let the "nosy foreigner" bashing begin!)

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If that's the case than why do so many forgeiners appliy for USPA licenses?



Depends what foreigners from what counties. Some because they are from countries with weak or no national organizations. In that case the local DZs often affiliate with USPA. In Canada there are a couple DZs that for one reason or another don't like CSPA, so they become USPA affiliated. Which as far as I'm concerned USPA should not be allowed to do, but I digress.

Many because they want USPA instructor ratings, which as I already stated are highly regarded.

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