Latest Safety Notices
Dear pilot colleagues!
After pulling our reserve chute in a gym and wanted them to repack under DHV instruction we encountered a severe failure with several (3) Skyline Zero Drag harnesses. It was for the pilots not possible to release the chute! The container could not be opened in flying position. After a short inspection we tried to pull out the container first with one hand than with to hands and still the container would not open, we measured the force and it showed above 10kg. This happens because of the cord material. After just one year the cord stiffens out and remains in the shape after the splint is being pulled out. It won't bend and therefor prevents the container from open and a chute failure is the result.
So please check your harness, the same and exact issue occurred on 3 Skyline Zero Drag harnesses.
We temporarily solved this issue and prior to this already informed skyline about this though no action followed. There were also DHV represantitives present and we hope for a security information in some time but I thought I won't held this information back because our lives depend on this! Report your harness to skyline if you have the same problem and can't release the rescue chute.
It seems the DHV are now addressing the issues of paragliding pod harnesses with dodgey reserve systems, back protectors, etc. and their inappropriate use by recreational pilots.
Their report is at http://www.dhv.de/web/en/safety/articles-statistics/pod-harness-test
Reserves and back protectors are just the glaring problems with some of these harnesses. There are numerous other areas in which some of these types are found wanting and I expect the DHV will get on the case in due course.
The taking off with the leg straps undone problem can only truly be solved when everyone does a proper pre-flight check before every launch.
Beachy Head and surroundings will be closed from Wednesday night until Monday for Eastbourne airshow.
See http://notaminfo.com/nationalmap for details.
I hate to mention the word, but it's beginning to feel autumnal early morning and late evening some days. What we're feeling is a ground inversion, which has provided more than a few nasty moments for pilots. It works like this:
We're all familar with the ground heating in the day, heating the air touching it and making thermals. As the sun goes down the reverse happens.
The once-hot ground radiates it's heat energy. If there's no blanket of cloud to bounce it back, the energy is lost into space and the ground gets cold.
The air touching the cold ground gets cold and dense.
As evening draws into night, the layer of cold air gets thicker and colder, anything between a few feet and a up to several hundred feet, perhaps even a thousand.
We now have a lake of heavy, cold air over the land with the real air doing it's own thing over the top.
The autumnal feel happens when we're standing in the cold layer - it's cold, humid (even forming dew or mist) and less windy than in the day.
Risks to the unwary pilot are:
It's been windy all day and close to sunset the wind drops to flyable. If you fly and climb a bit, you might get up to the windy layer and find a turbulent surprise in the shear layer between the two. Above the shear layer it will still be as windy as it was all day.
The wind early morning is light and flyable (possibly with plenty of wind from the north as the cold layer flows out to sea, just like a river). With some sun on the ground, thermals start and climbing begins. If you get a decent early climb, you might get to the shear layer and receive a battering from the turbulence. If you get through that in one piece there might be a lot more wind above.
At about the point in the day when the thermals are strong enough to get our intrepid shear-layer researcher aloft, all those thermals belting through the cold layer stir up the whole system and mix the cold air in with the normal air above. That usually takes 10 minutes to half an hour and is not a nice time to fly. The thermals race up through the cold air, lumps of windy air from above are brought down and sensible pilots will be on the ground having coffee.
Once the mixing is complete and the ground inversion is gone, all the cold air having mixed up with the air above, thermal activity will slow right down. That's because the air over the fields is now warmer and the fields and their thermals need to get hotter to make the required temperature difference. After another coffee it should get going again and this time the climbs will go all the way up.
Signs that this might be the situation:
It's been a warm, breezy day and in the evening the wind slows as it cools off.
The skies are fairly clear allowing the energy to escape.
It's not windy on the ground, but the clouds are moving well.
The forecast is for wind, but it's not windy on take off.
The isobars and other higher level wind forecasts show wind but the simple forecasts for ground level wind show much less.
It's clearly shown on the forecast soundings.
You're soaring around take off where there's plenty of wind but not much lift. You get a bit low and slope land only to discover there's no wind at all. You're in the cold lake and only the top bit of the hill was sticking out in the breeze.
You're bottom landing into wind and at 10 feet the glider dives as it enters the cold, still layer and you land long (and fast). Hopefully you followed procedure and came in with excess airspeed and legs down so you didn't stall.
You've watched someone take off half-way up, climb 100 feet above the hill, take a series of collapses, then start going backwards.
I've found the organisers initial statement regarding Dillip's death in Bulgaria (below). Apart from slow rescue services, the main issue is that he was found with a half deployed parachute and the brakes still in his hands. They suggest that holding the brakes and trying to deploy would influence glider behaviour. It would certainly impede throwing of the reserve.
I seem to remember that Dillip was in the habit of passing his hands through the brake handles so that they were around his wrist. This has resulted in similar incidents in the past where the pilot has been found it difficult or impossible to release the brakes quickly enough in order to throw the reserve properly.
However we choose to hold the brakes, it is essential that we are able to release them and and deploy without hesitation. Putting the handles over the wrists is a dangerous practice.
Official statement for accident 15 July 2012
Yesterday, Sunday 15 July, the indian pilot Dilip Kotecha falled at the upper part of Ravnets massif, north of Karlovo and Vasil Levski. Later he died from from internal bleeding and injuries.
He flew above the mountain, 120 m above the terrain, when according to witnesses he had collapses, spiral dive, rescue parachute deployment and hard impact into the ground. 5-10 minutes later 3 pilots landed next to him: Jan Minnaar, Ivelin Kalushkov and Daniel Dimov. They reported promptly the condition of Dilip - unconscious with irregular breathing and bleeding from the mouth. Mountain rescue helicopter was called and it arrived within 1 hour and 40 minutes. Unfortunately around 15:30 he stopped breathing. The helping pilots continued with CPR until the coming of rescue helicopter, when the doctor announced him dead.
It is difficult to find the reason of the accident because the weather conditions were normal and because Dilip was relatively experienced pilot, flying from 1995 and he attended SIV courses. He knew the terrain as he flew 5 competitions in Sopot area. He's been flying his glider - Ozone Mantra 4 for one year, had 100 hours on it and flew it in the crowded Czech Open and Skynomad Open in Sopot 2011.
The area of the accident is in the lee of a strong thermal trigger, which probably caused the initial turbulence and collapse. He was found with brake handles in his hands, which might slowed the deploying the rescue with them (the harness velcro for the rescue riser was not opened entirely and rescue container was 10 meters away from him). Trowing rescue with brake handle might influenced the glider behavior.
As far as the accident was not caused by organization failure, the competition will continue. Monday 16 July is a rest and respect day. Shambhala club will donate all entry fee money to Dilip's family and will support his son until his 18th birth day.
From the organization.
I just repacked an Independence Annular EVO reserve which was last repacked by the owner under supervision at the Zip Slide event before Christmas.
The reserve had been folded at 90 degrees to the design plane. i.e. folded like an Apco Mayday, rather than the intended short concertina folds.
When packed in this manner the reserve opening will be delayed and it is not impossible that it will fail to deploy.
If you packed your reserve like this, please refer to me, The Loft or any Independence dealer for advice on how to do it properly.
The correct manual is very clear on how to pack the reserve.
SHGC Safety Officer
I've just been informed that our incompetent and presumably unlicensed / inunsured tandem pilot was today spotted crashing into the brambles at Newhaven. He's described as ginger and eastern european, flying a tandem with a funny name. The description of his activities was very scary and we need to act before someone gets hurt and / or site agreements are put at risk.
If anyone out there spots this guy or knows who he is, then please politely approach him and explain the error of his ways. Myself, Steve P, Windy John or no doubt any of the tandem instructors will be happy to help him sort out ratings and proper tandem training.
Not everyone reads this forum - please pass the word around.
Spies tell me he was possibly Russian and flying with his girlfriend. They were flying all new kit, an Aeros Phaeton Occupy wing, yellow / white (graphics bit like Ozone) and Gin harnesses.
You have been warned!
Also be extra careful with leg straps with a flight deck or a canoe (pg or hg) harness...
As we have seen here, a flight deck is enough to cause this problem, it is not limited to canoe harnesses. The mandatory pre-launch check which we all perform before each and every launch (!) will ensure this doesn't happen to one of us...
We have had two serious 'failure to clip-in' events (FIC-ups!) within the club in recent years, one pg and one hg. Let's not have any more.
In a similar vein, always complete the check by confirming that the airspace is clear, including behind you, before starting to launch.
The test series conducted here clearly supports the general suspicions regarding LTF and EN testing: the norms are at best a coarse sieve – large discrepancies are quickly found, but smaller ones may find their way through. We haven't found any really dangerous gliders in the A and B classes, but it is somewhat frightening to see gliders tested to be as safe as possible, that still require 60m of height to recover from a massive collapse. In doing so they pitch forward alarmingly, rotate through almost 360° and have sink velocities of over 20 m/s. This is not the kind of glider that belongs in the hands of a beginner. Accident investigations clearly show what beginner and low-airtime pilots tend to do in the event of a collapse – nothing! They are usually much too frightened and inexperienced to calmly and coordinately react in the heat of the moment. What they need in such a moment, irrespective of the piloting errors they may have made beforehand, is a particularly friendly glider with moderate reactions. This is often promised for the LTF-A class, but these promises are not always kept.
The performance gliders in the high-end B class are marketed, quite correctly, as cross-country machines. They belong in the hands of experienced pilots and are definitely not for “Sunday” flyers. The thin line between “just OK” and “clearly over-demanding” regarding what pilot skills are required to recover from instability provide a lot of food-for-thought. A slightly steeper folding angle on an asymmetric collapse, a bit more of the span on a frontal collapse or a little more sink in a spiral can change a moderate glider into one that's hard to recognise again. Between “typical behavior for its class”, and cravats, dives or stable spirals lies very little margin for error in some cases. Gliders in this segment are only for pilots capable of active flying, able to recognise the onset of instability and react immediately to prevent collapsing.
The general impression we were left with is that more intensive testing is required, and not just two norm flight tests for certification. To provide realistic judgments on glider characteristics, a test program with several collapses, stalls and dives is necessary. Only then can we determine the entire testing results bandwidth and inform pilots appropriately.
We often hear of the evil surprises that some gliders provide in extreme situations, such as the fatal crash last season of a school pilot after an asymmetric collapse, cravat and spiral dive into rocks. Or the pilot with 20 years experience who moved up to a high-end B glider and dies after not being able to exit from a spiral dive.
To simply write off these incidents as “pilot error, bad luck” does not do them justice. Paragliders are built for pilots, and pilots do make mistakes. In glider classes for beginners and low-airtime pilots passive safety characteristics must have utmost priority. And there we still have plenty of room for improvement.