09 December 2011

CIVL Task Force on Competition Safety Reports

The task force has just published their wide-ranging interim report on safety in paragliding competitions. Whether you are a recreational or competition pilot there are implications for you. The report is a first step in sorting out the mess in PG competitions and the knock on effects on the rest of the sport, which has been deepening ever since the tragic events at the World Championships in Piedrahita (May 2011).

The interim report findings.

The report recognises that a range of factors contribute to safety and agrees with my view that competition level wings are often not the primary cause of accidents. However, in combination with other factors, such as type of task, pilot skill level and high stakes competition, the wings do have to be considered as an important part of the mix.
The damage which is being done to the sport as a whole and in particular to competitions during this period of uncertainty has been recognised. I hope that across CIVL there are a lot of people waking up and and lot of coffee being smelt!
The situation has been changing almost by the day with events like:
- the emergence of the "race EN D" certified wings emerging which are in no way suitable for the regular EN D pilot
- the suspension of EN D testing by the testing houses following Allan Zoller's high G spiral into the water during (pre) testing of a potential race EN D glider.

I am in no doubt that a healthy competition scene has a massive contribution to make for the good of the sport of paragliding.

Some of the recommendations:

- Take steps to safeguard competitions and improve safety for 2012. This includes separation of the "classic" EN D gliders from the race gliders whether they are EN certified or not.
- Educate competition organisers and task setters to develop a wider range of tasks which do not put excessive emphasis on speed and/or risk taking.
- Improve standards of pilot education and skill.
- Make huge improvements to incident reporting and analysis in competitions.
- Structure competitions in a way which includes and rewards pilots who are not at the absolute pinnacle of the sport. 

So what next?

The PMA and the testing houses meet today to try and make progress with some of the details, such as separating the genuine serial class gliders from the true competition gliders. Good luck!

CIVL ratify any changes at their Plenary meeting in February. This seems too late to me, considering manufactures and pilots alike are trying to plan for 2012. 

Please can the clever boys and girls who write the firmware for my instruments develop something to help me glide to a conical goal end of speed section?

To read the full report, set aside an hour or so and go to:
CIVL Paragliding Competition Safety task force Interim report

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