Issue Date: October 1, 2019
Main Spring-Loaded Pilot Chute Systems All Types – Military & Sport
For nearly 100 years, spring-loaded pilot chute hesitations have been a common occurrence in skydiving. Although more reliable deployment methods were developed and available since 1975, many military organizations and a number of sport jumpers and skydiving schools continue to utilize the spring-loaded pilot chute actuated by ripcord to deploy the main canopy.
In contrast, the reserve canopy’s spring-loaded pilot chute, actuated by ripcord, remains the standard worldwide to deploy the reserve canopy for almost all harness/container systems. If hesitations with main spring-loaded pilot chutes are so prevalent, you might ask why we use this type of deployment system on the reserve. The primary reason is the ability of the jumper to pull the inboard-mounted reserve ripcord with either hand, which is a significant safety feature. (Note: Several manufacturers experimented with hand-deploy pilot chute-activated reserve systems with the pilot chute mounted at the top of the reserve container, just behind the jumper’s neck. The problem with these systems is that ambidextrous activation is nearly impossible, and they are not compatible with modern AADs. Another reason is that most reserve deployments occur after a breakaway from a malfunctioning main canopy, and in a cutaway situation, there is rarely a burble behind the jumper to cause a hesitation. A hesitation resulting from a burble is more likely in total malfunction situations.)
The following information will provide guidance that may help to identify the causes of pilot chute hesitations and ways to improve the overall performance and reliability of canopy deployments.