On the 26th November KNVvL grounded all Icon rigs.

Over the last 2 weeks many of my customers with Icon rigs contacted me with request to modify their rigs (as per KNVvL VB 2021-05) so they can jump again.

I’m making my respond to them public, because it will simply save me time from not having to explain it again next time. Here was my respond to all of them.

WAIT! That’s right. Just wait! It’s winter and you won’t miss much jumping anyway.

First of all, let’s see what’s the reported problem.

The reported problem is that in some rig sizes in case of AAD fire, if the cutter is located under the reserve pilot chute, the tail of the loop that’s been cut could be long enough to trap the reserve pilot chute inside the flaps. That’s a known problem in the industry. Many other brands suffered from that exact problem 15+ years ago. By putting the cutter on top of the reserve pilot chute, the loop is kept as short as possible in case of AAD fire, and the friction between the loop and the grommets is not enough to keep the spring inside. That indeed solved the problem for the other brands.

So if there’s a fix, why I’m telling my customers to wait?

I’m telling them to wait because, from the tests done in France it became clear that some rigs didn’t function as desired, even if the reserve ripcord was pulled. And that has nothing to do with the AAD cutter location. The VB 2021-05 issued by KNVvL grounds all Icon rigs, until the location of the cutter is changed to over the reserve pilot chute. And in that KNVvL bulletin, a reference is made to the original Aerodyne SB from 2008. That bulletin was issued in response to the request from the French Parachute Federation for the cutter in the rigs jumped in France to be on top of the reserve pilot chute. That bulletin was also listed as “Bulletin Upon Request”, which means that it wasn’t issued in response to an airworthiness issue. And you can read it in the bulletin itself:

“French Parachute Federation have certified it compulsory for all Harness/Containers used in France must have the AAD cutter fitted above the reserve spring loaded pilot chute.The ICON Harness/Container was designed, tested and certified with the AAD cutter positioned below the reserve spring loaded pilot chute and positioned on reserve. Flap #1. Aerodyne has also certified the AAD cutter to be positioned above the reserve spring loaded pilot chute. Both positions of the AAD are approved and effective. The Technical Bulletin is hence classified as optional.”

That translated in very simple language is:

“There’s nothing wrong with the function of our rigs, but to keep the French Parachute Federation happy, we approve the relocation of the cutter above the reserve pilot chute” Or with other words, that bulletin is not to fix an existing technical problem with their rigs at that time.

Fast forward to November 2021. Now it seems there’s a problem.

And here’s why I tell my customers to wait.

At this time we don’t know what is the cause of the problem. You can’t use the solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, to fix a problem that does exist.

I can come up with at least 5 reasons on top of my head why a reserve pilot chute won’t clear the flaps. Cutter location is just one of them. Obviously, some changes to the design or the materials of the rig were made at some point. Obviously one or more of those changes contributes to the problem. At this moment Aerodyne is working to identify the problem and come up with a solution. First, they will have to find out what causes the problem. Then, they’ll see which rigs are affected. And then, they’ll come up with the correct solution to the problem.

My guess is that it’s going to be specific sizes made during a specific timeline, and not just all Icons that will be affected and will need to be fixed.

Which means that for vast majority of Icon rigs there won’t be any reason to change anything. But that’s just my speculation based on the limited information I have at the moment.

So:

  • If your rig is affected, the suggested fix maybe won’t change anything.
  • If your rig is not affected, no change will be needed.

And just to make myself clear. I think it was a good decision for the rigs to be grounded. Any time in skydiving where a lifesaving product is not working as designed, that product should be grounded until the problem is fixed. And I also think, that the proposed fix, should be solving the problem. Unfortunately, identifying the problem, coming up with a solution, and testing to see if the solution works will take time.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you as an Icon owner to decide. Do you want to wait and see what Aerodyne will do to solve the problem, or you will go with the existing solution.

To Be Continued….

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