NTSB Wants Better-Trained Pilots And Seatbelts For Skydivers

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The NTSB on Tuesday released a special report identifying several recurring safety issues with parachute jump operations, and recommended improvements in aircraft maintenance and pilot training. The report was prompted by a crash in July 2006 in Missouri, when an engine failed shortly after takeoff in a de Havilland DHC-6-100. The pilot and five parachutists were killed, and two other parachutists were seriously injured. Since 1980, 172 people have died in 32 skydiving-related accidents that had nothing to do with the act of actually jumping from the airplane and deploying the chute. The board found a "pattern of safety deficiencies" in aircraft maintenance, pilot training, and FAA oversight. For example, the board found in its final report on the 2006 accident, released this week, that more parachutists may have survived if better restraints had been used. "This clearly emphasizes the importance of implementing our recommendations designed to increase survivability when an accident does occur," said NTSB Acting Chairman Mark Rosenker.

The board made recommendations to the FAA and USPA regarding dual-point restraint systems for parachutists. "As this activity increases in popularity, we have to ensure that safe operations are adhered to by all operators," said NTSB Acting Chairman Mark Rosenker. "Our recommendations in the areas of maintenance and training will move this industry forward in preventing these types of accidents."