Skydiving Flights; Pilot/Aircraft Requirements

Alchemy

Well-Known Member
Anyone out there familiar with the pilot qualifications necessary to carry parachutists up for skydiving? Let me preface this by saying I don't know anything about it, and what I've listed here is based on a few hours of internet research and looking at CFR part 105 (haven't talked to anyone who's actually been involved in skydiving). When people find out I'm a commercial pilot, a lot of times they will ask if I can take skydivers up, what I would have to do, would it be legal for me to take them up, etc etc. It's my understanding that Sky diving operations are conducted under part 91, and that sky divers aren't considered "passengers". I'm still not quite clear on weather or not it would be legal for skydinving to be conducted for hire "common-carriage" style without a commercial operators certificate.

I can't seem to find much about pilot qualifications for skydiving ops in part 61 or part 105, other than "the pilot in command must be appropriatly rated for in the aircraft to be flown" and that the PIC must ensure that the jumpers are wearing a single harness double parachute that has been appriopriately packed. Other than that, most of the discussion in Advisory circulars related to pilots seems to regard documentation of weight and balance alteration for removing the door from an airplane, and accounting for shifting weight do to pax moving around and jumping out of the airplane. Is there specific pilot training required to drop parachutists? Is it the PIC's or skydivers' responsibility to make sure the skydivers know how to jump out of the plane properly? Isn't it possible for a skydiver to strike the horizontal stabilizier with their body if they're jumping out of the rear cargo door in an aircraft like a C-206 or a Light twin?

I'm guessing that all Skydivers are supposed to hold a USPA license or else jump with a USPA instructor? However, I can't find anything in the FAR's that says the skydivers MUST have licenses issued by this organization.

Anyone have more info? Just for a hypothetical situation, say I had a few friends who were USPA rated with properly packed chutes, and they wanted me to take them up and let them jump out of a rented airplane. Assuming I informed ATC w/ about all the necessary data listed in part 105, it was okay with the owner/operator of the plane, had the door removed and the weight and balance documented, what else would I need to do for the operation to be legal?
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
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what else would I need to do for the operation to be legal?

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Check with the insurance company for the airplane.

Check with the property owner of the land they will be jumping on.

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Is there specific pilot training required to drop parachutists?

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Get training as a jump pilot. You don't just take off, get to altitude and let the jumpers go. You need to have a good understanding of the winds, and you need to know how to "spot" the jumpers over the DZ (meaning where to drop them to correct for wind). If one of the jumpers was also a pilot, he/she could help you out on that.

You need to know how to deal with emergencies such as jumpers striking the aircraft on exit (rare), or chutes becoming deployed in the door (maybe a little less rare, but still rare).

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I'm guessing that all Skydivers are supposed to hold a USPA license or else jump with a USPA instructor? However, I can't find anything in the FAR's that says the skydivers MUST have licenses issued by this organization.


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That is correct. USPA is a self-regulating organization. While jumpers don't have to be members, there are few if any dropzones in the U.S. who will allow them to jump. Most dropzones are USPA-affiliated. It is the only licensing organization in the U.S.

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I'm still not quite clear on weather or not it would be legal for skydinving to be conducted for hire "common-carriage" style without a commercial operators certificate.


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Skydiving is one of the exceptions listed in 119.1. Therefore, no certificate is required (most of the time).

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Is it the PIC's or skydivers' responsibility to make sure the skydivers know how to jump out of the plane properly?

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The skydiver's. It is the PIC's responsibility to make sure they do it safely with regard to the aircraft (no climbing on top and going for a ride- been done lots on larger jump planes).

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Isn't it possible for a skydiver to strike the horizontal stabilizier with their body if they're jumping out of the rear cargo door in an aircraft like a C-206 or a Light twin?


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Possible, yes. Likely, no. Before you jump, find an experienced jump pilot and ask them if that type of aircraft has been/can be used to drop jumpers. If its a 182 or 206, you are fine. There may be others where you'd run into a problem. When a skydiver exits the aircraft, they are only in the slipstream for a quick second or two- not enough time to get "blown" back to the tail of most jump planes (although it has happened).

Anyways, sorry I answered out of order (its 4:30am..yuck), but if you have any more questions, give me a shout. I'm not a jump pilot, but I jump, and am a pilot so I should be able to help you out.


P.S.- Check out www.diverdriver.com - great website that will probably answer lots of your questions.
 

Alchemy

Well-Known Member
Great website eatsleepfly, that's exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for answering my questions. I don't see myself being a "divedriver" anytime soon but it's good to know what's involved! It almost seems like there should be an endorsment for this type of flying, or at least some FAR requirement like there is for towing a glider or flying a tailwheel.

One thing I can't envision is having 4 people "hanging off the wing strut" on a 182. Do jumpers literally "hang" on the wingstrut like a monkey bar before they jump? and how in the world would you fit four people on one strut? Yikes. Definitely would want to go up with some experienced divedrivers before I tried doing that myself.

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The commercial ticket ride does not include having four fat boys with 20-pound rigs riding in the slip stream hanging off your wing strut. This is a different type of flying.

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And one more question, who is the jumpmaster? Is the PIC also the jumpmaster in smaller skydiving ops, is one of the skydivers the jumpmaster, or is the JM someone who stays on board the plane and make sure everyone jumps out ok?
 
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