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Confidential Reports - Tandem

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Safety Tip - When assembling a set of equipment, how can you confirm that the main and reserve parachutes are compatible with the container?

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Packing, servicing and using tandem equipment requires a great deal of specialised knowledge specific to the individual tandem system being used. It's critical that all skydivers who use or work on tandem equipment understand what can go wrong and how to prevent it. These reports are just a few of the known incidents that could have been prevented.

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Tandem Malfunctions

We have eleven reports of tandem malfunctions this month. Five of these were caused by knots in the lines preventing the slider from deploying all the way down. Three of these had standard lines and two had microline. We have had four reports of lines breaking, all on microline. One reserve deployment during exit and one riser releasing during deployment.


Out of all these cutaways there is not one the same. Every broken line was in a different place and each description presents a different picture. However, the common factor with the broken lines is that they were all of a microline type. In the knotted line cases, the knots were described in a very similar manner and these have been reported many times before. Reference the riser that released, both Relative Workshop (Vector system) and Strong Enterprises have upgraded the RW 2 ring of the three ring system to strengthen them.

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Confidential reports - tandem

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The best recommendation is for tandem malfunction reports to be more in depth to assist in analysing; describe the incident in detail as much as possible with as many facts as available, add the jumpmaster's conclusions and recommendations. Most of the above reports are too broad to make recommendations on; however a lot of thought should be put into packing tandem canopies, especially the type and condition of the rubber bands for the nature of the lines being used. Also make sure that the equipment is up to date with all relevant safety notices.

This report was written by Allan Hewitt

Tandem Fatality

On Saturday, June 21st, 2009, a tandem incident occurred in Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic, resulting in the death of both the tandem master and the tandem passenger. The tandem pair experienced a main and reserve parachute entanglement that produced a spinning rate of descent that was not survivable.


A tandem master with reportedly over 2,000 Vector/Sigma tandem jumps and not trained or certified on the Dual Hawk Tandem System was given a Dual hawk and planned on making a tandem jump with a first time female passenger. It was not disclosed what "pre-jump"inspections were made. The tandem master was wearing a handy-cam video on his left wrist. No abnormal activity was viewed by the handy-cam or reported by observers from the time of boarding the aircraft (AN2), to exit. Exit and drogue activation appeared to be normal. When the tandem master pulled the drogue release handle, the main canopy (un-approved HOPS 330) deployed and immediately went into a hard left hand turn. The tandem master tried to correct the turn, when he could not, he elected to cutaway. Risers cutaway clean from the three rings but the left riser hung up on the closed top/bottom flap of the main container. The canopy continued to accelerate with the left riser hung up. Unable to correct the spin or fully release the riser the tandem master elected to activate the reserve. The reserve pilot chute, bridle and bag cleared the tandem pair deploying near horizontally. The reserve canopy and lines tangled with the passenger and tandem master. The tandem master tried continuously to disentangle himself and his passenger from the reserve lines and canopy throughout the descent. The reserve canopy lodged against the bottom of the main canopy with three or four wraps of reserve lines around main lines and several reserve lines still tangled on the tandem master until impact.

This report was written by Strong Enterprises

No Control Toggles

During a normal tandem skydive, the tandem instructor deployed as planned and reached up for his control toggles. When he pulled the toggles free from the half brake setting, the toggles came away from the control lines. Not being able to control his canopy he elected to cutaway and the tandem pair landed safely under the reserve parachute.


During the assembly of the main parachute, the rigger set the half brakes and placed the control toggles through the loops without attaching the control lines to the toggles. He did this as a temporary measure to hold the control lines in place while he assembled the rest of the system. After completing the assembly he gave the tandem equipment to a packer while he completed the documentation. he failed to realise that he had not gone back and attached the control toggles. The packer who saw the half brake setting already set, stowed away the excess lines and carried on packing with the assumption that the rigger had set the half brake setting ready to jump.


The practice of setting the half brakes without attaching the toggles is a bad habit to get into. Just don't do it. The main problem, however, was that the rigger never completed an assembly inspection after he had completed the assembly. All parachutes have to be hung up in a flying condition and given a full line sequence check and attachment check and this should be separate from the assembly. The packer made the assumption that the rigger had set the half brakes. If your job is to pack a parachute then you do the whole job as you're responsible for making sure that parachute opens properly which includes having the ability to control the parachute.

This report was written by Allan Hewitt

No Top Surface

After a successful tandem skydive the instructor deployed and experienced a very hard opening. On checking his canopy he noticed that the nose of the canopy had material missing on the top surface of the canopy that he could see over hanging the bottom surface. This was one complete cell's worth. The canopy was stable and seemed to fly normally. He released the control lines and completed a canopy control test. The canopy seemed to turn and flare normally. During the rest of the descent the instructor debated whether he should cutaway or land the canopy. His training said it was landable but he had concerns about the descent rate because he didn't know how much of the top surface was missing, all he could see was the over hang area. At two thousand feet he was still not sure what the best action was so he cutaway and deployed his reserve believing it's better to be safe than sorry later.


After examining the canopy it was obvious it was the right decision. The material on one complete cell was missing from the top surface. The instructor could walk through the hole without touching the sides. The canopy was manufactured with micro lines and these seems to have had a big effect on the opening shock of the canopy. This theory, however, is strongly disagreed by the canopy manufacturer who blamed bad packing for the extremely hard opening.


If in doubt always take the known safe option, the main may have landed ok but why take the risk.

This report was written by Allan Hewitt


Good Canopy