A skydiver prepares to jump from the plane.

What is a Skydiving AAD?

September 24, 2021 11:14 am Published by

Did you know that within every student parachute system, used during the skydiving courses that create the next generation of tandem skydivers at Skydive Perris, there is a device that can deploy the reserve parachute during a parachute emergency? We call this device the parachute Automatic Activation Device, or the skydiving AAD for short.

Within the skydiving industry, there are a few devices that have completely revolutionized the sport for the better — especially when it comes to skydiving safety. One of these devices is the skydiving AAD.

What Is A Skydiving AAD?

Developed through extensive engineering efforts and often not much longer than your little finger, the skydiving AAD is a microprocessor computer. This uber-precise computer is located within the skydiving container. In the event a jumper is unable to deploy his or her parachute, the skydiving AAD will deploy the reserve parachute.

Parachute Emergency Procedures

Each licensed skydiver and skydiving instructor has been thoroughly trained to enact a series of emergency procedures in the event of a parachute emergency. Although parachute malfunctions are rare, a skydiver will initiate their emergency procedures in the event there is an issue with the main parachute. This is done by first locating and firmly grasping a pillow handle — aptly nicknamed the “cutaway” handle because it separates the skydiver from the main parachute — that can be found on the main lift web of the skydiving container system. After locating and securing a firm hold on the cutaway handle, the skydiver will locate the reserve handle, which deploys the reserve parachute. In order, the skydiver will peel the cutaway handle from its Velcro housing and then pull until the arm has reached full extension. Then, the jumper will pull the reserve handle to deploy the reserve parachute.

Most skydiving equipment includes an added redundancy called the Reserve Static Line or RSL. The RSL is a lanyard that connects one or both risers of the main parachute to the reserve rip cord. With an RSL, once the jumper pulls the cutaway handle and the main canopy is released, the reserve parachute deployment is initiated.

The skydiving AAD comes into play if, for whatever reason, the skydiver is unable to complete their emergency procedures by the appropriate altitude or deploy their main parachute.

skydiving landing under parachute

How Skydiving AAD Works

AAD’s are programmed to activate and deploy the reserve parachute if a skydiver has reached a certain speed at a certain altitude. Practically speaking, if you are still falling at freefall speeds at an altitude when your rate of descent should have been significantly slowed beneath a parachute, the AAD will deploy the reserve parachute.

Now, this may leave you wondering how, exactly, can the AAD possibly know your rate of descent and altitude? Well, the AAD measures changes in barometric pressure to calculate altitude and rate of descent. Every time the AAD powers up, the unit calibrates by taking an average value of pressure, which allows it to set a current pressure at ground level. Because the pressure may change throughout the day, the AAD also takes intermittent readings to adjust to current conditions.

Every skydiving AAD consists of a control unit, a processing unit, and a cutter unit. Essentially, the control unit is a small screen display with a button that allows an individual to adjust the AAD firing parameters. During each skydive, the processing unit then measures the barometric values. If the firing parameters are met, an electronic pulse activates the cutter unit which severs the reserve container closing loop. When this loop is cut, it frees a spring-loaded pilot chute which deploys the reserve parachute.

Skydiving AADs at Skydive Perris

As we mentioned in the introduction, all the student equipment at Skydive Perris utilizes a skydiving AAD. Although the probability of an issue is small, the extra layer of security that an AAD provides is invaluable. It is far better than to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!

Just like the secret of the skydiving AAD, there’s so much more to this sport than meets the eye. Want to learn more? Check out our blog, give us a call or schedule your skydive today!

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This post was written by Skydive Perris