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rec.skydiving UK FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)


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Archive-name: sports/skydiving/uk-faq
Last-modified: 2000/18/07
Posting-Frequency: Monthly
Version: 14

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       Rec.Skydiving F.A.Q. Sheet (United Kingdom)
       =-=-=-=-=-=-==-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

This posting constitutes a complement to the 
Rec.Skydiving F.A.Q. with specific reference to the 
pursuit of the sport in the United Kingdom. Its intended 
audience is those resident in, or planning to visit, the 
UK. It may also be viewed at www.shew.org/faquk/index.htm

Rec.skydiving has regular questions along the lines of 
"If I go to the USA to take an AFF course, will I be able 
to jump when I return to the UK?", and "I'm planning to 
come to the UK for a few days, where can I jump and what 
documents do I need?". This FAQ attempts to answer some 
of these questions. Please read to see if your question 
can be answered before posting a question to 
rec.skydiving. If you can't find the answer here, then 
please let me know the question AND answer, when you get 
it, for possible inclusion in a later version. 

Additions, corrections, or suggestions can be posted or 
emailed to the current maintainer, Pete Shew, pete @ shew 
 org

NOTE: BPA-OM refers to the British Parachute Association 
Operations manual 1998 (with June 2000 amendments). See 
http://www.keme.co.uk/%7Etboughen/sections.html for an up 
to date copy.

I have arranged this FAQ into the following sections: 
   The British training systems and how they differ from
    the US equivalents.
   UK medical and rigging information.
   Requirements for UK jumpers abroad and foreign
    jumpers in the UK.
   British Parachute Association details

Archive details
Archive-name:  sports/skydiving/uk-faq 
Last-modified: 18th July 2000
Posting-Frequency: Monthly 
Version: 10 

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1. The British training systems and how they differ from the US
    equivalents.

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Training is carried out at parachuting clubs which are 
usually run under the auspices of the British Parachute 
Association, although there may be exceptions. Before 
being accepted on a course you will have to provide 
evidence of fitness to parachute - either a self 
declaration, or if over 40, a doctors medical 
certificate. 

Qualifications of parachutists
------------------------------

There are two systems in force, the old blue licence and 
the new red licence which came into force in April 1988. 
At the same time the category system and qualifications 
was revised. Reference to the old system will be made 
where it is significant.

Students may train using the progression system, or the 
accelerated free fall system up to what is still referred 
to as Cat 8, that is a level at which the parachutists 
may jump without intsructor supervision, and may begin to 
learn other disciplines. The additional disciplines are 
Individual Canopy (IC), Formation Skydiving (FS), Canopy 
Formation (CF), Individual Style (IS), Freeflying and 
Freestyle (FF), and Skysurfing (SS). For some of these 
disciplines there are prerequisite disciplines, for 
example to be trained in FF, the parachutist must first 
obtain the qualifications FS1 or IS1. (FS1 is identical 
to the old Cat 10 qualification)

FAI licences are granted to Cat 8 ('A' licence), 'A' 
licence with IC1 and 50 jumps ('B' licence), 'B' licence 
with one other level 1 qualification and 200 jumps ('C' 
licence), 'C' licence and 1000 jumps ('D' licence). For 
those with blue FAI licences, a 'C' licence is roughly 
equivalent to a red 'B', and the blue 'D' licence, held 
by the majority of experienced UK skydivers, is 
equivalent to the red 'C'. Endorsements (stickers) for 
the qualifictations are mandatory in red licences and 
optional in blue ones.

Ram Air Progression System (RAPS)
---------------------------------
or Static Line Squares to Cat 8
-------------------------------

This is available at most Drop Zones in the UK now, and 
has totally replaced round parachutes at a large number. 
This system uses the modern ram air or "square" sports 
parachute from the first jump. The square parachute is a 
wing which is landed by converting the forward speed to 
lift to give a gentle tip-toe landing if performed 
correctly. 

The student first uses a Static Line square parachute 
that is opened automatically on leaving the aircraft by 
means of the "static line" attached to a strong point 
within the aircraft. The student also has a piggyback 
mounted reserve parachute and an Automatic Activation 
Device (AAD) which will attempt to deploy the reserve if 
conditions merit it. 

During progression, the student with move on to a ripcord 
deployed version of the same equipment. The ripcord may 
be mounted on the legstrap or the bottom of the container 
- it is not usually possible for a student to change 
between equipment with different ripcord locations, so 
moving between DZs may be difficult. 

The progression system requires the student to 
demonstrate over a series of jumps, stability and ability 
to pull a dummy ripcord handle before progressing to 
freefall. A further series of jumps incorporating 
increasing freefall delays and showing control by 
performing turns, back loops and tracks leads to the 
Category 8 qualification dive of a half series. That is, 
a dive exit, back loop, alternate 360 degree turns, a 
short track and wave off, usually from 8000ft. 

After achieving Cat 8 the parachutist may then convert 
from ripcord to a throw away pilot chute. This must be on 
kit fitted with an Automatic Activation Device (AAD). 
The absolute minimum number of jumps is 17 or 18 
depending on how the manual is interpreted, but expect a 
good progression to take less than 30 jumps. A slow one 
may take 50 or 60 jumps. 

A variation of the RAPS progression allows the student 
who has reached Category 5 to transfer to the AFF system 
at Level 3. (This could reduce the cost of AFF by 
avoiding the expensive early AFF jumps with two 
instructors). 

Static Line Round progression to Cat 8
--------------------------------------

Still in common use in the UK is the static line round 
parachute  course. This is largely used on "charity 
farms" where the majority of first time jumpers are doing 
charity associated jumping and are unlikely to stay in 
the sport. 

This is the traditional first introduction to parachuting 
and uses a round parachute which is automatically opened 
when the student leaves the plane - just like in the war 
movies. The round can be steered and has a forward speed 
of five to eight m.p.h., and is an extremely safe and 
reliable piece of kit. The student will also have a belly 
mounted reserve parachute. 

The progression system requires the student to 
demonstrate over a series of jumps, stability and ability 
to pull a dummy ripcord handle before progressing to 
freefall. A further series of jumps incorporating 
increasing freefall delays and showing control by 
performing turns, back loops and tracks leads to the 
Category 8 qualification dive of a half series. That is, 
a dive exit, back loop, alternate 360 degree turns, a 
short track and wave off, usually from 8000ft. 

The student may convert to a RAPS canopy at any time 
during the progression subject to approval of the Club 
Chief Instructor (CCI). No progression may take place for 
at least the first two jumps. The conversion may be left 
until after Cat 8. 

After Cat 8 (and conversion to RAPS kit if necessary) the 
parachutist may then convert to a throw away pilot chute. 
This must be on kit fitted with an Automatic Activation 
Device (AAD). 

The absolute minimum number of jumps is 17 or 18 
depending on how the manual is interpreted, but expect a 
good progression to take less than 30 jumps, plus 
conversion jumps (two lots). 

Accelerated Freefall (AFF) to Cat 8
-----------------------------------
AFF or Accelerated Free Fall takes the student to Cat. 8 
in just eight training jumps plus ten consolidation jumps 
if all goes well. The equipment used is a ripcord 
deployed ram air parachute with AAD like the RAPS kit. 

All training jumps except the last are from at least 
10000 feet, and the first three are with two instructors 
holding the student and performing in-air coaching. A 
major part of AFF is the pre jump briefing, and the post 
jump debrief, many centres use air to air video to 
supplement the training and to review the jump. 

The seventh training jump is the same half series that 
the category jumpers perform. The final jump in the 
training is a hop and pop from around 5000ft to simulate 
aircraft emergency bale out and give experience of 
subterminal deployment. NOTE: THIS IS NOT AN AFF 
REQUIREMENT IN THE USA. 

Following the hop and pop, ten consolidation jumps must 
be made at an approved AFF club before Cat 8 is awarded. 
NOTE: THIS IS NOT AN AFF REQUIREMENT IN THE USA. 
Conversion to throw away pilot chute deployment may be 
carried out during the consolidation. 

This is the most likely cause for problems with UK 
students going to the USA to do AFF courses. Unless they 
use BPA approved instructors they may have problems when 
returning to the UK. I don't have any general guidelines, 
but I am aware of cases where the student has had to 
repeat the half series jump. As far as I am aware, the 
student will always have to do the hop and pop and the 
ten consolidation jumps. 

I remember one case (a few years ago) where someone 
returned after doing AFF in Florida and a number of FS 
jumps, and they were asked to return to the category 
system by their home DZ! 

The UK student should also be careful of cheap AFF 
courses offered at boogies and DZs in continental Europe 
- their rules may be different and you may have to repeat 
some of the course back in the UK. 
[This is an area in which I need more information and 
case histories. I will also try to tie down a few CCIs]. 

Of course, there will be no problems with AFFs achieved 
outside the UK if the instructors are current BPA AFF 
instructors. This is the case in Skydive Sebastian in 
Florida, and many UK instructors offer AFF courses in 
France and Spain. 

The minimum number of jumps is 18  including 
consolidation and conversion, and is unlikely to be much 
more. 

Progression beyond Cat 8
------------------------

Once the student has reached Cat 8, he or she may 
progress in a number of ways. Still the most common is to 
flat fly amd attain IC1 and FS1, and to qualify for a 'C' 
licence once 200 jumps has been reached. FS-1 skill may 
be learnt with Warp progression or Skydive-U. This 
exactly matches the earlier progression to Cat 10 
culminating in a blue 'D' licence.

For those who don't want to follow the flat flying route, 
it is possible to go to style (IS1) or canopy formation 
(CF1). Prerequisite to FF1 is either FS1 or IS1, and FF1 
is required before starting SS1.

Qualification in each of these disciplines will be 
awarded by a CCI and will be endorsed in the parachutists 
FAI licence book. This takes the form of a sticker, 
signed by the CCI, and may also be used in the blue 
licences.

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2. British medical and reserve packing requirements

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Medical certificates
--------------------

As of the 14th October 1996, the requirements are that a 
parachutist on reaching 40 or first starting to parachute 
over 40 requires a medical certificate endorsed and 
stamped by a medical doctor. 

Subsequently, and up to the ago of fifty, an additional 
bi-annual self certification is required. Beyond the age 
of fifty, a tri-annual medical certificate endorsed and 
stamped by a medical doctor is required, with, 
additionally, self certification for each of the 
intermediate years. 

This is my understanding and it seems clear on the 
reverse of form 114(ii), but there is STILL confusion at 
some drop zones, e.g. Sibson in 2000.

Reserve repacking
-----------------

In The UK, reserves must be inspected and repacked at 
least every six months. This must be carried out by a 
person authorised by the BPA to pack that specific 
reserve/container/AAD combination. 

As an Advanced Packer, my interpretation of the 
Operations manual follows:

Rigger examiner, advanced  rigger, rigger
-----------------------------------------

all may assemble and pack any reserve into any container 
with any AAD provided that they have the relevant manuals 
and safety notices to hand. Qualified riggers may also 
perform remedial work and AAD installation. Riggers are 
required to get their rating renewed each year - 
endorsement of their BPA memership application is 
required by a higher rated rigger (obviously excepting 
rigger examiners who have to endorse each other). 

Advanced packers
----------------

may assemble and pack any reserve into any container with 
any AAD provided that they have the relevant manuals and 
safety notices to hand. Remedial work is restricted  - my 
guess is that if can be called assembly it is OK, if it is 
installation it is not OK. Fitting a Cypres to a "Cypres 
ready" conatiner is acceptable - installing the Cypres 
pocket is not. Advanced packers may be required to sew 
with a needle (e.g. pop tops, cutaway housing bindings), 
but are not permitted to use a sewing machine.

Advanced packers may be cleared for either round or 
square reserves or both. Additional endorsement by an 
Advanced Rigger who has completed the Airtech course is 
required to pack equipment fitted with a Cypres.

Advanced packers are required to get their rating renewed 
each year - endorsement of their BPA membership 
application is required by an advanced rigger or above.

Holders of advanced packing tickets
-----------------------------------

may assemble and pack reserves/container/AAD combinations 
that are specifically endorsed on their advanced packing 
certificate, provided that they have the relevant manuals 
and safety notices to hand. Remedial work is restricted  
- my guess is that if can be called assembly it is OK, if 
it is installation it is not OK. Fitting a Cypres to a 
"Cypres ready" conatiner is acceptable - installing the 
Cypres pocket is not. 

It is no longer possible to obtain an advanced packing 
certificate as the Advanced Packer qualification has 
superceded it, but it may be still possible to get 
additional endorsements on an existing certificate. 

Holders of Advanced Packing Certificates have to get 
their rating renewed each year by an Advanced Rigger.

Persons certified by an Advanced Rigger to pack round 
-----------------------------------------------------
reserves in front mounted containers
------------------------------------

may pack round reserves into front mounted containers. No 
rating renewal applies!

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3. Requirements for UK jumpers abroad and foreign jumpers in the UK.

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UK jumpers abroad
-----------------

Usually your current documentation is sufficient. Most 
countries will respect your reserve packing (but I think 
the US may demand that your reserve repack is less than 4 
months old - the UK cycle is 6 monthly). You may also 
have problems if your reserve is not sealed. The BPA 
third party insurance is NOT valid in North America, so 
USPA membership or equivalent may be required. Medical 
cover is strongly recommended when jumping abroad - make 
sure you have your form E111 when jumping in the European 
Union. 

Foreign jumpers in the UK
-------------------------

BPA-OM Section 6. EQUIPMENT, Para 8.5 Reserve parachutes 
that have been packed in a foreign country, in a manner 
acceptable to the parachuting organisation in that 
country, may be jumped at a BPA club for up to 180 days 
from the date of that packing. This is provided that the 
parachuting organisation of that foreign country allows 
180 days validity for a reserve repack; otherwise the 
foreign country's lesser time will apply.

BPA-OM Section 11 MEDICAL, Para 2.6 Foreign Parachutists. 
A Parachutist from a foreign country may parachute at a 
BPA club if he/she fulfils the medical requirements of 
that parachutist's own country. 

N.B. Beware, this is not always honoured - e.g. 
Strathallen, July 2000

BPA-OM Section 12 DOCUMENTATION Para 1.1 All 
Parachutists, riggers, pilots, judges and DZ controllers 
must be current members of the British Parachute 
Association. 

This is a 3rd party insurance requirement

In general, foreign parachutists have no problems jumping 
in the UK - just be sure to bring all your documents. 
Note that headgear, an altimeter and a knife are 
mandatory in the UK 

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4. The British Parachute Association

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[This is the major parachuting authority in the UK. It is 
now recognised by the British Civilian Aviation Authority 
(CAA) as an Approved Organisation (28 Mar 1996), and is 
deputised to handle certain matters on behalf the CAA. I 
am not certain whether this extends to the regulation of 
non-BPA parachuting centres or whether they are still 
answerable directly to the CAA.] 

British Parachute Association,
Wharf Way, 
Glen Parva, 
Leicester   LE2 9TF 
Tel: 0116 278 5271        Fax: 0116 247 7662 
Web site http://www.bpa.org.uk/

2000/2001 Committee
-------------------

Chris Allen	Chairman
Kieran Brady	Vice Chairman
John Saunders	STC Chairman
John Smyth	Competitions Chairman
Ian Midgley	Development Chairman
Keiran Brady	Communications Chairman/Club 
Representative North
Paul Applegate	Riggers Chairman
Michael Allum	Club Representative Midlands
Mike Danby	Club Representative South
Tim Andrewes	 
Tye Boughen	 
Chris Clements	 
Dona Crum	 
Dave Hickling	 
Lofty Thomas	 
Richard Tregaskes	 

Magazine
--------

Skydive Mag
3 Burton Street
Peterborough
PE1 5HA

Tel/Fax:    01733 755860 
email:      lesley @ skydivemag . com
Ed:         Lesley Gale 
Web site    http://www.skydivemag.com/ 


Disclaimer
----------
All information provided herein is offered on an "as is" 
basis.  There is no warranty expressed or implied 
concerning its applicability or fitness for any 
particular purpose.  Consult a trained professional 
before attempting any of the activities described in this 
document; it is not intended to be a substitute for 
proper professional instruction.   

Pete Shew
pete at shew dot org (apologies but I hate spam)



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