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gowlerk

Astra AAD

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I also posted this in the FB group, so forgive me my trespass.

 

I've never had to touch, install, or service an Astra AAD. But there is a chance that a rig equipped with one is going to come to me for a repack in the spring. My first instinct is to just say no, but what do others do?

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In the US, it's pretty easy to say no.  An Astra requires different cable runs and control unit mounting than more conventional electronic AADs, so installing one requires alteration approval from the manufacturer (unlikely) or the FAA (difficult).  If the rig was otherwise FAA TSO'd and the owner was thinking about jumping in the US, he would need to have proof of alteration approval.

In the US, 105.43 requires the AADs to be maintained according to the manufacturer instructions. Astra instructions recommend, but do not require, testing in an altitude chamber at each repack.  If you're trying to follow US rules, it will be your call which side of the ambiguity you choose.

Checking the website, it does not look like FXC supports the Astra anymore.  The batteries last 10-14 days if you forget to turn the unit off after the last jump of the day.  I don't know if you can get factory battery assemblies anywhere.  Changing the batteries requires opening up the reserve container.

The firing altitude is a fixed distance above the altitude where the unit is turned on, typically in the boarding area to save battery life.  In most cases, this isn't a problem.  If the owner is going to jump at a dz where the landing altitude is substantially different than boarding altitude, this is a safety issue. 

The unit can be turned off and turned on again during the ride to altitude, which resets the firing altitude.  This is a safety issue for the jumper himself, and a premature reserve deployment would also affect other jumpers on the load.

 

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If you decide to chamber-test an FXC Astra AAD, you need a test chamber and a test light.

You can use the same test chamber as you did for FXC 8000 and 12000 mechanical AADs.

The test light is a special item best bought from the FXC factory.

If you have to buy all that test equipment, you will lose money. Just tell the owner to buy a more modern electronic AAD that is still in production: Cypres 2, Marrs, Vigil 2, etc.

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