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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation A-08-063
Details
Synopsis: Parachute jump (or skydiving) operations, which the Federal Aviation Administration defines as the activities performed for the purpose of or in support of the descent parachutists (or skydivers) who jump from aircraft, are a segment of U.S. general aviation that transports parachutists on at least 2. 16 to 3 million jumps annually, according to data compiled by the United States Parachute Association (USPA). Most parachute operations flights are operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 and are typically revenue operations; parachute jump operators provide the flights as part of their services to parachutists who pay to go skydiving, or parachutists pay dues for membership in parachuting clubs. The risks of parachuting are generally perceived to involve the acts of jumping from the aircraft, deploying the parachute, and landing; parachutists are aware of and manage these risks. However, the National Transportation Safety Board’s special investigation of the safety of parachute jump operations found that traveling on parachute operations flights can also present risks. Since 1980, 32 accidents involving parachute operations aircraft have killed 172 people, most of whom were parachutists.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Require parachute jump operators to develop and implement Federal Aviation Administration-approved aircraft maintenance and inspection programs that include, at a minimum, requirements for compliance with engine manufacturers’ recommended maintenance instructions, such as service bulletins and service information letters for time between overhauls and component life limits.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Aviation
Location: SULLIVAN, MO, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: CHI06FA210
Accident Reports: Crash of Skydive Quantum Leap de Havilland DHC-6-100, N203E
Report #: SIR-08-01
Accident Date: 7/29/2006
Issue Date: 9/25/2008
Date Closed: 12/12/2014
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FAA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Jump Operations, Maintenance

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 12/12/2014
Response: We do not agree that the FAA-developed guidance for operators or instructions for FAA inspectors constitute an acceptable alternative solution for a requirement. We are aware that the United States Parachute Association (USPA) developed and distributed to all Group Member Drop Zone operators an aircraft maintenance guidance packet, clarifying which FAA regulations apply to jump plane operators and explaining the inspection and maintenance options available. Because the FAA worked with the USPA to develop this guidance, Safety Recommendation A 08-64 was classified “Closed—Acceptable Action” on May 23, 2013. We remain concerned, however, that operators of aircraft used in parachute jump operations are not required to develop and implement FAA-approved aircraft maintenance and inspection programs, as recommended. We have previously acknowledged that determining the best mechanisms by which to implement maintenance program requirements for parachute jump operators may require flexibility, but again we emphasize that the FAA has imposed extra requirements on certain Part 91 operators in the past (such as Part 91, Subpart K). However, because you indicated that you will take no further action in response to Safety Recommendation A-08-63, it is classified CLOSED—UNACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 10/28/2013
Response: -From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: In its letter dated June 12, 2012, the Board disagreed with the FAA that part 91 maintenance requirements satisfy the intent of this recommendation. The Board stated its concern that operators of aircraft used in parachute jump operations are not required to develop and implement FAA-approved aircraft maintenance and inspection programs. Moreover, according to the Board, the FAA could impose additional requirements on parachute jump operations to address this recommendation. As we previously noted, we cannot legally require an owner/operator to w1ilaterally adopt manufacturers' recommended maintenance instructions. However, we encourage operators to voluntarily review and incorporate such instructions. Nevertheless, we maintain that the requirements of sections 91.403 and 91.409, along with the guidance provided by the United States Parachute Association, satisfy the safety concerns identified in this recommendation. Additionally, we provide the following guidance and instructions listed below to operators and FAA inspectors who are responsible for the surveillance of parachute operators. This guidance also addresses the issue raised in the recommendation. • FAA Order 8900.1, Flight Standards Information Management System, Volume 6, chapter 11, section 5, Surveillance of Sport Parachute Activities, which can be found at the following Web site: www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/orders_notices/index.cfm/go/document.informationldocumentiD/ 154 77; • FAA Order 1800.56M, National Flight Standards Work Program Guidelines, Appendix A. paragraph 5(a)(19), Part 91 Parachute Operations-operations and Airworthiness, which can be found at the following Web site: rgl.faa.gov/Rcgulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rg0rders.nsf/0/79d0a58a57f4de6f86257a70004a41 f5/$FILE/Order 1800.56M.pdf; and • Advisory Circular 1 05-2D (as revised), Sport Parachuting, paragraphs 7 (Jump Aircraft Maintenance and Jump Pi lots) and 8 (Pilot Responsibilities), which can be found at the following Web site: www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/AC%20105-2D.pdf. We carefully reconsidered our actions, and continue to find that our response to this recommendation reflects the best interests of aviation safety. Accordingly, we will take no further action in direct response to this safety recommendation.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 6/12/2012
Response: We do not agree with the FAA that existing 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 maintenance requirements satisfy the intent of this recommendation. Rather, we remain concerned that operators of aircraft used in parachute jump operations are not required to develop and implement FAA-approved aircraft maintenance and inspection programs. Although we acknowledge that the diversity of the parachute operations industry may require flexibility in determining the best mechanisms by which to implement maintenance program requirements, we point out that the FAA has imposed extra requirements on certain Part 91 operators in the past (such as Part 91, Subpart K), and we believe that the FAA could do something similar to address this recommendation for parachute jump operations. Although the FAA has indicated that its actions in response to this recommendation are complete, we request that the FAA reconsider its position. In the meantime, pending our review of a plan that is responsive to this recommendation, Safety Recommendation A-08-63 remains classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 11/16/2011
Response: -From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: In our previous response, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) explained that there are currently no existing regulations that would require parachute jump operators to implement FAA approved maintenance and inspection programs. The owner/operator of these aircraft has the ability to choose the inspection program in accordance with § 91.409. This section details the types of inspections that an individual can utilize, depending on the aircraft and its usage. Section 91.409 (b) states, "no person may operate an aircraft carrying any person (other than a crewmember) for hire, and no person may give flight instruction for hire in an aircraft which that person provides, unless within the preceding 100 hours of time in service the aircraft has received an annual or 1OO-hour inspection and has been approved for return to service in accordance with 14 CFR part 43 of this chapter." The annual and 100 hour inspections are utilized extensively by persons providing flight instruction, in addition to parachute operations. While the scope and detail of these inspections are not FAA approved, there is no statistical evidence showing that an airplane properly maintained and inspected in accordance with 14 CFR Part 43, appendix D is unsafe. Due to the size and complexity, large turbopropeller-powered multiengine airplanes, often used in jump operations, are required under § 91.409 (f) "to use a current inspection program recommended by the manufacturer or establish their own inspection program which is approved by the Administrator." The FAA encourages operators to voluntarily review and incorporate engine manufacturers' recommended maintenance instructions. This is achieved through service bulletins and service information. However, we can not legally require an owner/operator to unilaterally adopt all such requirements. To do so would be contrary to the Administrative Procedures Act. It would be tantamount to allowing a manufacturer to impose legal requirements. Section 91.403(a) states, "the owner of an aircraft is primarily responsible for maintaining that aircraft in an airworthy condition." Therefore, while not mandatory, the owner/operator of an aircraft should review this information and incorporate it, as necessary, to maintain the continued airworthiness of the aircraft. The FAA has determined that § 91.409 and the United States Parachute Association drop zone operators' guidance, as cited in our previous response, satisfy the concerns of the Board's safety recommendation. I believe the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation, and I consider our actions complete.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 1/11/2011
Response: The NTSB is pleased with the United States Parachute Association’s (USPA) efforts to educate its membership and validate that USPA-member drop zone operators are operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 maintenance requirements. However, the NTSB points out that (1) not all parachute jump operators are USPA members, and (2) USPA members that have demonstrated they are in compliance with Part 91 maintenance requirements still are not required to perform the engine manufacturers’ recommended maintenance instructions, as recommended by the NTSB. At least four of the accident operators mentioned in our SIR did not voluntarily perform the recommended manufacturer maintenance practices on their airplanes’ engines. The intent of Safety Recommendation A-08-63 is to ensure that all parachute jump operators (not only USPA members) are held to a level of safety that exceeds the maintenance requirements of 14 CFR Part 91. Although the FAA has provided support to the USPA’s efforts to ensure that USPA members comply with current regulatory requirements, the NTSB does not believe that the FAA has satisfied the intent of Safety Recommendation A-08-63. Accordingly, pending the FAA’s issuance of a requirement for all parachute jump operators to develop and implement FAA-approved aircraft maintenance and inspection programs as specified in the recommendation, Safety Recommendation A-08-63 is classified OPEN -- UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 6/22/2010
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 7/9/2010 12:18:59 PM MC# 2100242 - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: There are no existing regulations that specifically require parachute jump operators to implement Federal Aviation Administration approved maintenance and inspection programs. However, Title 14 CFR § 91.403(a) states, in part, that the owner of an aircraft is primarily responsible for maintaining that aircraft in an airworthy condition. Therefore, the owner/operator of an aircraft should review this information and incorporate it as necessary to maintain the continued airworthiness of the aircraft. In an effort to minimize risk, the USPA and FAA met to address the Board's special investigation report. The FAA and USPA believe that the current regulatory requirements for maintenance are adequate but must be better communicated and disseminated. USPA took an active role in educating owners of jump plane aircraft, pilots, parachutists, and skydiving drop zone operators (DZO) using the association's monthly magazine. In addition, the USPA informs all members of the USPA-affiliated drop zones through its website and email communication. The USPA's website is located at www.uspa.orgIPortals/O/DownJoads/GM MailingNarrativeltrhd.pdf and addresses the following areas: • 14 CFR § 91.409, Aircraft maintenance requirements; • 14 CFR Part 91, Operations that have impact on aircraft airworthiness; • 14 CFR § 91.213, Minimum equipment list and inoperative instruments and equipment; • 14 CFR Part 91, Emergency locator transmitters (ELT) and transponder; and • Operating rules. USPA Director Mr. Ed Scott, in a September 2009 letter to the DZOs (enclosed), states that his approach to improve safety is two pronged. The first effort is to review the regulations with respect to jump operations and to clarify what is expected. The second effort is to implement a method to validate a DZQ's completed actions for compliance with the associated regulations. A USPA status report (enclosed) is completed by the members and returned to the USPA ensuring that aircraft used in skydiving drop zone operations have complied with the aircraft inspection requirements. The DZOs that do not return these status reports cannot be involved in the USPA group member program. To date, the response by the members show a majority of the 220 USPA-affiliated DZOs are involved in the USPA reporting program. As some DZOs operate on a part-time basis due to seasonal activity, they are to provide reports once they have aircraft on site for the season. The manufacturers' service bulletins, service information letters, and time between overhaul limitations are recommendations for part 91 operators. Life-limited components listed in the type certificate data sheet are also required compliance items. Although not mandatory, the FAA and USPA recommend that owners/operators review the manufacturer's maintenance manual or any other manufacturer's recommended information and incorporate appropriate actions.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 4/26/2010
Response: The FAA indicated that it agrees with the intent of these safety recommendations and will work with the United States Parachute Association (USPA) to develop maintenance and inspection programs for parachute jump operators. The FAA further indicated that guidance would be incorporated into the USPA’s manual as part of the requirements for the intended parachute landing area, referred to as the Drop Zone. The NTSB looks forward to reviewing the details of the developed maintenance and inspection programs and associated guidance material. Pending our review, Safety Recommendations A-08-63 and -64 are classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 1/15/2009
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 2/17/2009 12:26:33 PM MC# 2090077: - From Robert A. Sturgell: FAA Comment. The Federal Aviation Administration met with the United States Parachute Association (USPA) to discuss the need to develop maintenance and inspection programs for parachute jump operators. We agree with the intent of these recommendations and will work together to develop the recommended programs. The guidance will be placed in USPA’s manual as part of the requirements for the Drop Zone. We anticipate completion and implementation of the procedures and guidance by October 2009.