After filming a problematic AFF jump, this jumper was already a little lower than usual when his main canopy hesitated slightly during deployment. He remarked that he had to “shake it a bit” during the deployment sequence. Once the canopy deployed, he then experienced what he thought was a line-over malfunction and, without a lot of time to assess the situation, immediately cut away and deployed his reserve. Later, when reviewing the video, it became apparent that he had not had a line-over but that the magnets on his stowless deployment bag had latched onto a slider grommet during deployment of the main canopy.
Although at first glance the magnets on the deployment bag seemed to be the cause of this malfunction, it was actually traceable to inadequate maintenance of the pilot chute’s kill line. The clue was the hesitation during deployment. As a pilot chute nears the end of its lifespan, the kill line (one of the high-wear points on skydiving equipment) or the fabric becomes worn, and the pilot chute does not catch enough air to extract the lines and pull the bag off the canopy with adequate force. This can lead to problems such as the one experienced here.
Jumpers should consult their owner’s manuals to determine the recommended frequency and scope of equipment inspections. Those with magnetic deployment bags may want to be a little extra vigilant when it comes to pilot chute maintenance, as this jumper surely will be in the future.
USPA would like to hear from other jumpers who have experienced this malfunction. If you have had a similar problem, please report it at uspa.org/ir.