Saturday, August 8, 2020

COVID19

Coronavirus: Resources and Frequently Asked Questions for USPA Members and U.S.-based Skydiving Operations and Businesses

FAQs

No, the FAA has not waived the 180-day parachute packing requirement.
Currently, we are not extending currency or rating renewal requirements. Rating holders are still required to renew their ratings before expiration to avoid having to complete the necessary rating renewal requirements for an expired rating.
The FAA has announced that the agency will not initiate enforcement action against pilots whose medical certificates expire between March 31 and June 30. USPA’s board of directors took similar action allowing tandem instructors to continue with an FAA medical certificate expired during those same dates.
License currency requirements are found in SIM Section 5-2. At this time, currency recommendations for licensed jumpers have not changed, and may not, due to the importance currency has with ensuring everyone's safety. When operations do continue, I would recommend reaching out to your local S&TA, who may have more information or recommendation on these matters when that time comes. I would recommend you follow your local drop zone on social media or reach out to the local S&TA for updates.

These currency standards were set when trends proved that student's cognitive and muscle memory both significantly start deteriorating after 30 days. Changing these measures would only increase the risk to our students, at a time when we should be tightening the standards. Remember, when these students start returning to the sky, USPA's entire instructor corps will also not have jumped in what's looking to be somewhere between 30-60 days.Right now, we do not know when we will be returning to the sky, but we are monitoring the situation.

In the meantime, we are discussing options and will be prepared to communicate decisions once we do resume jumping.

Membership includes many benefits, especially Parachutist magazine which will help skydivers stay informed and educated even during a down time. Every day, even when you’re not jumping, USPA is fighting for skydiving’s access to airports and airspace. There is no late fee to rejoin if your membership does expire, so you can come back when ready. Unfortunately, to keep receiving the magazine, you do need to renew but we do have the Parachutist online option in the meantime.

By utilizing the online rating renewal process, membership, and ratings can be renewed online, without having to leave the confines of your home. Your S&TA, Examiner, or USPA Board Member can verify the requirements complete for your rating(s) after providing them any necessary information (logbook entries, manifest records, dates of completed requirements)?

Verifiers still might need to see logbooks, so just a cool hint, instead of scanning all of your logbook pages, FaceTime or Skype with your verifier so they can see your logs quickly and easily.

Certain States have issued COVID-19 restrictions on activities they deem “non-essential,&rdquot; including certain aeronautical activities such as flight schools and skydiving. With the goal of keeping airports open to ensure access for the traveling public, emergency and medical equipment and supplies, and emergency transportation, FAA does not object to temporarily limiting recreational aeronautical activities that are covered by such restrictions. However, the activities limited by a sponsor should be limited to those falling within the scope of a public health measure by an authority whose jurisdiction covers the airport’s geographic area (e.g., a State or local government).
We could neither force DZs to close nor force DZs to remain open. We recommended that all skydivers and all skydiving businesses follow the CDC COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.
USPA recommends that all tandem instructors follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines and state regulations. Instructors should also stay up to date on manufacturer guidelines.
Yes, USPA is taking the lead from the FAA. We are also coordinating with the tandem-equipment manufacturers.
Members still receive benefits from a full year of membership, even if they are not jumping for the full year. The Government Relations Department is still working with the FAA to help resolve issues affecting skydiving and is assisting DZs with airspace-access issues. Members will also still receive Parachutist magazine and updates via USPA’s e-newsletters and website. And USPA still addresses safety trends and issues every day. Membership services are also still available.
This is a fantastic idea. The Safety & Training Committee is working on modules that would assist with holding such a day and could help smaller DZs that may not hold a full-scale event. USPA suggests that jumpers talk to their Safety and Training Advisors and drop zone operators as DZs get closer to re-opening. Also, some DZs have conducted virtual safety days that can be viewed online.
For safety reasons, USPA is not contemplating changing instructor currency requirements. However, we are working on a plan to facilitate currency training for rating holders.
USPA is not a health organization and can't create policy for healthcare situations. USPA recommends that all DZs and members follow CDC and state and local guidelines. USPA is reviewing whether a best practices approach would be helpful.
USPA is leaving this to the discretion of individual drop zones based as they assess their current situations and ability to follow CDC recommendations.
If we recover fairly soon, this will not be necessary. If shelter-in-place orders continue, we will have to address this. We are exploring options and working on plans now and will communicate those once they are solidified.
No, unfortunately. The USPA Board discussed this several times and decided it wasn’t an option, primarily because basic medicals don’t include a background check. The manufacturers agreed with this decision.
Until we're at the drop zone and getting back in the routine of jumping, it's hard to figure that out. DZOs are working on sanitation practices, and we're expecting there will be new protocol in place to protect the public, instructors, etc. Currently, there are a lot of unknowns.
Jumpers should follow the recommendations in Skydiver’s Information Manual Section 5-2 and attend a comprehensive review on all aspects in skydiving to get them back to a level of safety and competency to skydive again.
In respect to health agencies, we are following the guidance of those agencies. We have worked with the FAA to make sure airports aren't closing access as part of the restrictions, and we've offered to help in any way we can.
An Aviation Medical Examiner who a USPA member and USPA Judge advises the board and is available for consultations.
If you don't have employees and PPP loans don’t apply, your contractors can apply for unemployment as independent contractors. There are different regulations in each state, so check with yours.
All members must adhere to Federal Aviation Regulations Part 105. The plane must be set up for skydiving, so you can't use just any plane for jumping. For example, you need FAA approval to take the door off. The pilot must also be a jump pilot and trained in proper procedures. It also requires proper oversight from S&TAs and instructors before jumping.
We are currently waiting to hear from Russia about the status of the world championships in August. Russia says they will decide before or by the end of May.
Yes. The USPA Sport Promotion Department will work together with the Communications Department to come up with plans to help get people in the air and businesses up and running. We are making plans and would appreciate any DZOs or jumpers who have good ideas to contact USPA Sport Promotion at sportpromo@uspa.org. Ask not what the sport can do for you but what you can do for your sport? We encourage every jumper to think locally and brainstorm how they can help their DZ get rolling again.
Our goal is to help all DZs get back on their feet as quickly as possible. Our Sport Promotion Department will work diligently to continue to promote skydiving to the general public and ensure potential tandem students that USPA Group Member drop zones will follow state, federal and CDC guidelines in cleanliness.
We are required by the USPA Governance Manual to meet in person twice per year. We agree that we could do it virtually if we had to, but there is a lot of value doing face-to-face meetings. We have rescheduled the summer board meeting and will follow a contingency plan should we not be able to execute this postponed meeting.
We do have our online ground school, SkydiveSchool.org, for students earning licenses. We have training modules we're putting online to help with rating renewals, as well. We also have examiners working with online courses and distance-learning courses to see what's possible and what works well for that medium. Keep in touch with your DZ and S&TA and stay tuned for updates from USPA.
Currency requirements have not changed and the renewal requirements for making a jump within 180 days remain the same. Someone in this situation should first get their license current then follow the guidelines to get current for the rating. The jumper should also follow the manufacturer's guidelines.
We recently moved the GM renewal deadline from the end of March to the end of April. We will consider extending the renewal date for Group Members beyond April, if necessary.
We are assisting drop zones every day with all sorts of issues as an advocate and with legal assistance in certain situations. The drop zone should contact USPA to ask for assistance.
We already have some approved tunnel guidance, which you can find in the Basic Safety Requirements. As training for skydiving students continues to evolve, USPA will be in front of that and approve guidance as appropriate.

Resources

Coronavirus update by law firm Alston & Bird

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration Coronavirus Relief Options

SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020. The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020.

This “forgivable” loan/grant program would primarily benefit DZs and other small business that pay all their workers as employees rather than 1099 contractors, since the loan amount is equal to 2½ times the average monthly payroll costs, and payments to independent contractors do not qualify as payroll costs (No employees = 2½ x $0 = $0). And although the money can also be used for mortgage/rent and utilities, 75% of the forgiven amount must be used for payroll. Self-employed individuals and independent contractors can apply for the PPP using their net self-employment income, but again, if they don’t have employees themselves, forgivable payroll costs would be $0. Application can be made through banks and credit unions who are SBA approved lenders.

SBA $10,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance: In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available following a successful application. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.

This is the most promising program, since it is not tied to payroll costs, and is available to independent contractors as well as other small business entities. If it is used for business operating expenses, the $10,000 does not have to be repaid. Applications can be filled out and submitted online at the SBA website.

Overview and Eligibility
Application

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans: In addition to the $10,000 Loan Advance, small businesses can apply for loans of up to $2,000,000 for economic injury sustained as a result of the coronavirus emerRescy. Applications can be filled out and submitted online at the SBA website.