Few devices have affected the evolution of skydiving quite like the parachute AAD. In fact, the parachute AAD is one of the pivotal technological advances in skydiving that truly revolutionized the industry by drastically improving safety and saving lives.
The acronym AAD stands for automatic activation device. In essence, the parachute automatic activation device is a precise microprocessor computer located within the skydiving container. This safety system is responsible for deploying a skydivers reserve parachute in the event that a jumper is unable to do so.
All licensed skydivers and skydiving instructors are thoroughly trained to quickly and efficiently conduct emergency procedures in the event of an emergency. In the unlikely event there is an issue with a skydiver’s main parachute, the jumper will initiate their emergency procedures by locating a pillow handle (called the “cutaway” handle) located on the main lift web on the skydiving container. Once the jumper has located their cutaway handle and grasped it firmly, they will locate the reserve handle. In a sequence, the skydiver will pull the “cutaway” handle which separates the jumper from the malfunctioning parachute and then pull the reserve handle to deploy the reserve parachute. Most skydiving equipment also has a reserve static line. The reserve static line, or RSL, is an attachment between the riser of the main parachute and the pilot chute of the reserve parachute. In the event that the skydiver cannot reach, locate, or pull their reserve handle for whatever reason, with an RSL, as the main parachute is released the reserve parachute deployment is initiated.
In the very unlikely event that a skydiver cannot complete their emergency procedures or is unable to deploy their main parachute at the appropriate altitude, the AAD parachute comes into play.
Though there are different manufacturers of automatic activation devices, each AAD consists of three main components: a control unit, a processing unit, and the cutter unit.
The automated activation device is an impressive feat of engineering that calculates the jumper’s altitude and rate of descent by measuring changes in barometric pressure. Each AAD is programmed to activate if the skydiver is falling at a certain speed and at a certain altitude. Essentially, the AAD can recognize if you have reached an altitude at which you should have a parachute deployed and your descent rate slowed. If you are still moving at freefall speeds at an unsafe altitude, or above the parameters programmed into the AAD, the AAD processing unit will activate the cutter unit and deploy the reserve parachute. To ensure this calculation is exact, as the AAD unit powers up, it calibrates itself by taking an average value of pressure to determine the current pressure at the ground level. While the AAD is on and in use it will also read the air pressure throughout the day in order to adjust to current conditions. Mighty smart piece of equipment, huh?
The parachute AAD is a critical component for every skydiver’s equipment set up. All of the equipment utilized by students at Skydive Monroe comes equipped with a parachute automatic activation device. While the chance of an issue or malfunction is incredibly low, if something unexpected happens, your parachute automatic activation device has your back, literally!