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Action for USPA Members !

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(edited)

This is nothing more than a proposal to force DZs to maintain their aircraft, pilot training and operations to normal commercial standards like DZs must do everywhere else in the world. It will not be "devastating regulation". It will be requiring giving paying customers the same amount of assurance that the people selling airplane rides for money do in every other branch of commercial aviation. It is simply time for the industry to grow up and away from being a semi-outlaw sport. Those days are long gone. Skydivers should not be opposing these changes. They should be demanding them.

Edited by gowlerk
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44745 will require cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders.

Part 135 pilot requirements include a requirement for check pilots, and oral/practical check rides every 6 months.

See 135.265 for maximum duty time and required rest periods.  Someone is going to have to keep training records and duty/rest records.

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Disagreeing with Albert Berthold, but agreeing with gowlerk BECAUSE I was injured during the crash of a poorly-maintained, American-registered Beechcraft King Air back in 2008. The problem started with an American AME neglecting a Special Inspection published by Pratt & Whitney. The SI required inspecting fuel pumps for a known problem with shafts gauling and rusting. The inspection schedule was TIGHT on single-engined airplanes (Cessna 208 Caravan, PAC750XL, Pilatus Porter and Quest Kodiak) powered by PT6A engines, but a looser inspection schedule on twin-engined airplanes (Beechcraft King Air, DHC-6 Twin Otter and Embraer Bandierante) ... pretty much half of the American fleet of jump planes.

In my case, the AME inspected one fuel pump, but not the other.

At 4500 feet, we heard 2 weird "bangs" from an engine. The weird noises were blamed on a surging fuel pump. The pilot shoved the nose down to maintain airspeed, but accidentally shut of the good engine. He was smart enough to keep wings level and maintained enough airspeed to maintain control and set us down in a farmer's field a kilometer from a runway at Pitt Meadows, B.C., Canada. A contributing factor was the pilot neglecting annual refresher training in a simulator.

Canada's Transportation Safety Board concluded that the crash was caused by BOTH maintainer neglect and pilot neglect.

A contributing factor was that the engine was operated "on condition" well past Beechcraft's schedule. Both Beechcraft and P&WC have announced that jump planes cannot be operated "on condition" because jump-plane operations are so radically different than the mission that the airplanes were originally designed for. A typical jump-plane does 3 or 4 up-and-down cycles per hour while business planes might do 2 or 3 flights per day.

I never completely recovered from my physical injuries (e.g. my right shoulder aches today), but the long-term financial and psychological damages were worse.

While Canadian Air Regulations and American Federal Air Regulations are almost identical, they differ in enforcement. Just last week, a pair of Transport Canada inspectors showed up at Campbell River at the start of a boogie (Operation Pegasus Jump). They looked over the paper-work and airplanes and found no glaring errors. The only thing that Skydive Campbell River staff had to do was remind jumpers to wear seat-belts.

A few friends have tried to import American-registered airplanes to Canada, but found tens of thousands of dollars worth of maintenance neglected. 

While the better-managed jump-planes (Perris Valley, California and Kapowsin, Washington) are treated like investments and retirement funds and are well-maintained, not all DZOs can think that far ahead. Poorly-managed DZs need to bring their airplane maintenance and pilot refresher training up to the same standards as commuter airlines.

The only suggestion that I disagree with is about installing flight data recorders. Modern GPS trackers are smaller and simpler and more helpful when trying to understand crashes.

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I'm curious, other than the potential financial impact on DZs, particularly small 182 DZs (and I'm on record saying the 182 will always be my favorite plane to jump), what are the downsides of this proposal?  I am having a hard time understanding why improved safety regulations that are consistent with all other commercial operations is such a bad thing?  Speaking only for myself, I would be more than happy to pay an extra $5-10 per jump to know that the aircraft, pilot training, etc. are being held to higher standards.  So unless someone can explain to me how this will have negative consequences beyond cost, I can only conclude that USPA opposes it because it is bad for business.  

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22 hours ago, bdb2004 said:

I'm curious, other than the potential financial impact on DZs, particularly small 182 DZs (and I'm on record saying the 182 will always be my favorite plane to jump), what are the downsides of this proposal?  I am having a hard time understanding why improved safety regulations that are consistent with all other commercial operations is such a bad thing?  Speaking only for myself, I would be more than happy to pay an extra $5-10 per jump to know that the aircraft, pilot training, etc. are being held to higher standards.  So unless someone can explain to me how this will have negative consequences beyond cost, I can only conclude that USPA opposes it because it is bad for business.  

You're right, of course. But while there are some DZ's that are so far out of whack they will be washed out for many it will boil down to how much grace time operators will have to come into compliance and how much in engine overhaul reserves they have in the bank. Many operators of turbine aircraft buy engines that are already beyond TBO (time before overhaul) and run them for a few thousand hours more. Those core engines will suddenly have no value in the jump market and will need to be overhauled. I built a Turbine Engine Leasing company to supply rental engines to part 135 operators (I know better than to lease to jump operators) so they could keep going while their engines were being overhauled. Overhauling small and medium size PT6 engines can take months and cost several hundred thousand dollars each and often as not you need to get in the queue. Also, the cost to overhaul a first run TBO engine is a lot less than a second run 8000 hour engine. Those get paid for with game show checks, you know, the big ones like they give out on TV.

Please know that an engine at TBO isn't an unsafe engine. Even in jump op's if they are properly maintained a couple thousand hours past TBO isn't a problem, hence the successful and FAA approved TBO extension programs. The good news is that thanks to Ray Ferrell showing us a couple of decades ago that brand new aircraft and engines were affordable in the jump industry, and also owing to the several higher horsepower options that were developed for Caravans, there are now quite a number of "fresh" and more modern design engines hauling jumpers in the market. They'll all be OK. But if you have a Twin Otter or two and all of your -27's or -34's are old and second run that's a problem. 

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On 7/22/2023 at 9:16 AM, JoeWeber said:

Please know that an engine at TBO isn't an unsafe engine. Even in jump op's if they are properly maintained a couple thousand hours past TBO isn't a problem, hence the successful and FAA approved TBO extension programs. 

Okay, so then let me ask your perspective on this as a DZO.  If we ignore the financial implications and focus only on safety, do you think this proposal would have a net positive, a net negative, or a net neutral effect on safety?  In general, I would be quite happy to pay a premium for jump tickets if it means a lower risk for skydivers in the long term....but I would be rather upset if the cost goes up but there is no appreciable increase in safety.  

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34 minutes ago, bdb2004 said:

 In general, I would be quite happy to pay a premium for jump tickets if it means a lower risk for skydivers in the long term.

How much of a premium would you be quite happy to pay?  How much lower would the risk need to be?

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31 minutes ago, mark said:

How much of a premium would you be quite happy to pay?  How much lower would the risk need to be?

It's not really about what skydivers are willing to pay. It's about selling tandem rides to the public like carnival rides. If skydiving went back to a thing that was done for recreation by people with a passion for it there would not be a push for commercial operating rules. Go to any website for any DZ and see who this is being marketed to. 

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1 hour ago, bdb2004 said:

Okay, so then let me ask your perspective on this as a DZO.  If we ignore the financial implications and focus only on safety, do you think this proposal would have a net positive, a net negative, or a net neutral effect on safety?  In general, I would be quite happy to pay a premium for jump tickets if it means a lower risk for skydivers in the long term....but I would be rather upset if the cost goes up but there is no appreciable increase in safety.  

Net positive, but mainly because we have so many operators who cut corners on maintenance an pilot training. Understand this, aircraft maintenance and pilot error events will not end. There will be some number fewer but whether everyone will agree that the huge additional costs are justified remains to be seen. The bottom line here is that it's still aviation and our Gods are weak so many bad things will still happen.

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18 hours ago, mark said:

How much of a premium would you be quite happy to pay?  How much lower would the risk need to be?

So you're asking me to put a specific price on a life, and if the price increase for jumps falls below that price which I would support the changes but above it I would support the status quo?  Quantify my decision like an actuarial?  Sorry, I'm not really interested in playing that game, even if I were knowledgeable enough to do so.  It's why I ask people like Joe for their opinions, because they know a lot more about these things than I do and I trust their judgement when it comes to evaluating these types of changes.  

That said, here's what I know.  I don't jump nearly as much as the majority of licensed skydivers.  I do my best to jump at places where I believe there is a strong safety culture.  As such, the odds that I am ever in a plane crash are quite low.  If the changes are made, the odds that I am ever in a plane crash decrease, but not by much because it's not like they can really go much lower than they currently are.  But if these changes mean that over the next decade there are fewer stories about dead skydivers in my online news source of choice, then I'm on board.  It won't cost me much in the long run, but it could mean the world to the family of those skydivers (and tandem jumpers) whose lives may be saved.

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17 hours ago, JoeWeber said:

Net positive, but mainly because we have so many operators who cut corners on maintenance an pilot training. Understand this, aircraft maintenance and pilot error events will not end. There will be some number fewer but whether everyone will agree that the huge additional costs are justified remains to be seen. The bottom line here is that it's still aviation and our Gods are weak so many bad things will still happen.

Thank you.  

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11 hours ago, bdb2004 said:

Thank you.  

You are more than welcome. To the extent that I can offer any lessons I have learned  in my years as a Skydiver, Pilot, DZO and Turbine Engine guy to anyone willing to listen to my nonsense is the real reason I post here. Everyone should please feel free to ask me anything publicly or privately on any topic if they think I have any use at all.

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So the FAA showed up at a DZ I was jumping at over the weekend. The inspector grounded our turbine due to paperwork, not for safety. To be fair, this was due to poor record keeping not because anyone has an axe to grind. And after some casual inquiry around the area, it seems that there are a lot of DZ's having their maintenance records inspected. My assumption (with no supporting evidence what so ever) is that the FAA is preparing a statement for the eventual Administrator's testimony to congress on this matter. I don't know if that indicates that the FAA is for or against the proposal, but I would think that they are not in favor of increasing their workload. The safety record of the jump fleet has been pretty good over the last decade or so. 

Also, talking to the DZO he estimates about a $1M maintenance bill in order to comply with the proposed legislation. A number like that puts most operators out of business overnight. And the cost of jumps tickets would triple if not quadruple. 

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29 minutes ago, Deisel said:

The inspector grounded our turbine due to paperwork, not for safety.

If the paperwork is not done then the job is not done. You can't jump a rig without a seal and a data card filled out. Why should an aircraft get a pass? Professionals know this.

31 minutes ago, Deisel said:

And the cost of jumps tickets would triple if not quadruple. 

Bullshit. Most nations require jump aircraft to be maintained to commercial standards. Because they are selling aircraft rides for money. The added cost on the MX is likely around 20%. That buys you compliance with outstanding SBs that commercial operators must follow. If your DZO really needs to triple the cost of jumps to comply why the hell are you riding in such poorly maintained aircraft? Chances are you are not riding in poorly maintained aircraft at all. Your DZO is grossly exaggerating.

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4 hours ago, Deisel said:

So the FAA showed up at a DZ I was jumping at over the weekend. The inspector grounded our turbine due to paperwork, not for safety. To be fair, this was due to poor record keeping not because anyone has an axe to grind. And after some casual inquiry around the area, it seems that there are a lot of DZ's having their maintenance records inspected. My assumption (with no supporting evidence what so ever) is that the FAA is preparing a statement for the eventual Administrator's testimony to congress on this matter. I don't know if that indicates that the FAA is for or against the proposal, but I would think that they are not in favor of increasing their workload. The safety record of the jump fleet has been pretty good over the last decade or so. 

Also, talking to the DZO he estimates about a $1M maintenance bill in order to comply with the proposed legislation. A number like that puts most operators out of business overnight. And the cost of jumps tickets would triple if not quadruple. 

What type of aircraft and what was the "paperwork" deficiency?

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3 hours ago, gowlerk said:

If the paperwork is not done then the job is not done. You can't jump a rig without a seal and a data card filled out. Why should an aircraft get a pass? Professionals know this.

Bullshit. Most nations require jump aircraft to be maintained to commercial standards. Because they are selling aircraft rides for money. The added cost on the MX is likely around 20%. That buys you compliance with outstanding SBs that commercial operators must follow. If your DZO really needs to triple the cost of jumps to comply why the hell are you riding in such poorly maintained aircraft? Chances are you are not riding in poorly maintained aircraft at all. Your DZO is grossly exaggerating.

Hi Ken,

No where in the FAR's does it say this.  It only says that the rig has to have been I & R'd within the last 180 days.

It does not say that the seal must stay intact for the rig to be legal to jump.

Jerry Baumchen

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4 minutes ago, JerryBaumchen said:

Hi Ken,

No where in the FAR's does it say this.  It only says that the rig has to have been I & R'd within the last 180 days.

It does not say that the seal must stay intact for the rig to be legal to jump.

Jerry Baumchen

Okay, seals are pointless anyway. But you still need to produce the paperwork or the I&R is not valid.

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Joe Webber - King Air. The paperwork was relater to an engine mod from 10+ years ago. It was field approved by the FAA but the follow up paperwork couldn't be located. The A&P remembers submitting it but no one could locate the documents. The FAA is working with the DZ to get into compliance and they should be up and running in a week or two. 

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58 minutes ago, Deisel said:

Joe Webber - King Air. The paperwork was relater to an engine mod from 10+ years ago. It was field approved by the FAA but the follow up paperwork couldn't be located. The A&P remembers submitting it but no one could locate the documents. The FAA is working with the DZ to get into compliance and they should be up and running in a week or two. 

Hi Deisel,

If I have learned only one thing in my 82 yrs on this Earth, it is that you NEVER lose your paperwork.

If you cannot keep it in a safe & accessible location, you find someone who can do it for you.

IMO your DZ is his own worst enemy.  Sorry to be so harsh.

Jerry Baumchen

PS)  And, do not think that even the FAA can keep their paperwork OK.  You would be amazed how many times I had to make copies of mine so they could have their files complete.

 

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6 hours ago, Deisel said:

Joe Webber - King Air. The paperwork was relater to an engine mod from 10+ years ago. It was field approved by the FAA but the follow up paperwork couldn't be located. The A&P remembers submitting it but no one could locate the documents. The FAA is working with the DZ to get into compliance and they should be up and running in a week or two. 

And who were the I&A's who signed off the annuals for a decade without having a look at the 337 forms? Sounds to me like you were lied to. Now, if thats true, whatcha gonna do? Keep the DZ a secret?

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On 7/25/2023 at 9:52 AM, bdb2004 said:

So you're asking me to put a specific price on a life, and if the price increase for jumps falls below that price which I would support the changes but above it I would support the status quo?  Quantify my decision like an actuarial?  Sorry, I'm not really interested in playing that game, even if I were knowledgeable enough to do so.  It's why I ask people like Joe for their opinions, because they know a lot more about these things than I do and I trust their judgement when it comes to evaluating these types of changes.  

That said, here's what I know.  I don't jump nearly as much as the majority of licensed skydivers.  I do my best to jump at places where I believe there is a strong safety culture.  As such, the odds that I am ever in a plane crash are quite low.  If the changes are made, the odds that I am ever in a plane crash decrease, but not by much because it's not like they can really go much lower than they currently are.  But if these changes mean that over the next decade there are fewer stories about dead skydivers in my online news source of choice, then I'm on board.  It won't cost me much in the long run, but it could mean the world to the family of those skydivers (and tandem jumpers) whose lives may be saved.

I love this. It's okay with you to spend an undetermined amount more on each jump. But you have no idea what that increase will do to others who maybe don't have your financial resources. Because it won't cost YOU much in the long run doesn't mean anything to the sport as a whole.

Regardless,  what is scary here isn't the increase in costs to DZOs and jumpers and tandumb passengers... What is scary is that these regulations are a foot in the door for the FAA to end self regulation of the sport of skydiving in the US.

And THAT is why skydivers should be against this. Not safety, not money. Your freedom to skydive without governmental interference.

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19 minutes ago, skybytch said:

What is scary is that these regulations are a foot in the door for the FAA to end self regulation of the sport of skydiving in the US.

And THAT is why skydivers should be against this. Not safety, not money. Your freedom to skydive without governmental interference.

The FAA could not care less about skydivers and has no desire to regulate skydiving that I can see. The FAA does regulate the safety of aircraft. And the rules for commercial aircraft are somewhat stricter than those for private aircraft. When you sell people rides as a business why should you not have to maintain commercial standards? 

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11 hours ago, JoeWeber said:

And who were the I&A's who signed off the annuals for a decade without having a look at the 337 forms? Sounds to me like you were lied to. Now, if thats true, whatcha gonna do? Keep the DZ a secret?

No, I will not name the DZ. And no, it isn't the DZ listed on my profile. My understanding is that the paperwork exists but couldn't be located at the time. Apparently the A&P that originally did the work has it. And for what it's worth, I was in the room during part of the inspection. Mr. FAA clearly stated that they (the FAA) had approved the mods once already. 

And from my point of view, the place passes the sniff test. I've never gotten the impression that anyone has done anything in the least bit shady. And I know that when it's time, the AC go in for MX. The pilots are highly experienced (18K & 13K king air hours each) and guys whose judgement I trust. I don't know the intricacies of AC maintenance so I defer to folks like you. And based on your comments I do have more questions for them. And it's also possible that I didn't fully understand the details.  

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5 minutes ago, Deisel said:

No, I will not name the DZ. And no, it isn't the DZ listed on my profile. My understanding is that the paperwork exists but couldn't be located at the time. Apparently the A&P that originally did the work has it. And for what it's worth, I was in the room during part of the inspection. Mr. FAA clearly stated that they (the FAA) had approved the mods once already. 

And from my point of view, the place passes the sniff test. I've never gotten the impression that anyone has done anything in the least bit shady. And I know that when it's time, the AC go in for MX. The pilots are highly experienced (18K & 13K king air hours each) and guys whose judgement I trust. I don't know the intricacies of AC maintenance so I defer to folks like you. And based on your comments I do have more questions for them. And it's also possible that I didn't fully understand the details.  

Interesting they did a deep dive into the logbooks focusing on the engine mod's. Maybe it's just a hard on for King Air's after Hawaii. I haven't done it in a while but it used to be that you could pull the entire 337 package out of Oklahoma City for 50 bucks. There may even be a local title company that will cross the street and get it for a fee instead of waiting two weeks.

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