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TSO Memo: Visiting Skydivers, Rigs and Part 105
With Part 105, the FARs allow non-TSO’d equipment (not FAA-approved) to be jumped in the U.S. Prior to 2001, individual DZOs and event organizers were required to petition the FAA for an exemption that allowed foreigners at those DZs/events to jump non-TSO’d gear. To reduce the burden on those operators (and to reduce its own burden when hosting meets), USPA petitioned the FAA to "permit foreign nationals to jump their own parachute equipment while in the U.S. as long as it is manufactured under the applicable country of origin approval or certificate of use."
The actual language used in the new regulation is below. However, to more fully assess the FAA’s intent, it is often helpful to review the preamble to the final rule, that is the discussion area of the final rule that exposes the FAA’s thought process as it developed the final rule.
In the preamble, the FAA referenced USPA’s petition, and discussed the issue in terms of "foreign parachutists" who "could not use their own equipment, usually manufactured in another country…" Additionally, in the discussion of foreign equipment, the FAA’s preamble says, "Only single-harness, dual parachute systems which contain a non-technical standard order (non-TSO) reserve parachute or non-TSO’d harness and container would be allowed to be used in the U.S. by the owner…" (This sentence was intended to clarify that non-TSO’d tandem rigs would not be allowed.) Finally, the preamble says that the FAA, "does not agree that the foreign parachute system should be subject to the U.S. repack cycle (180 days)" but "must meet the requirements of their country."
Appendix 1 contains the applicable FAR Section. Following is a summary:
defines "approved parachute" as being either TSO’d or having military identification.
Section 105.3 also defines "foreign parachutist" as neither a U.S. citizen or a resident alien "using parachuting equipment not manufactured in the U.S."
sets out that all persons must use TSO’d equipment. (The section goes on to specify packing requirements.)
then states that no one may use an "unapproved foreign parachute system" unless several conditions are met. The first is that the equipment "is worn by a foreign parachutist who is the owner..."
Section 105.49 goes on to say that "All foreign non-approved parachutes deployed…shall be packed as follows—…the reserve…must be packed in accordance with the foreign…requirements, by [an FAA] rigger or any other person acceptable to the Administrator." (Note the word "deployed.")
U.S. citizens and resident aliens must jump TSO’d rigs in the U.S.
A non-U.S. citizen or non-resident alien may jump a non-TSO’d rig if he/she owns the rig and it is approved in his/her country.
If a non-TSO’d parachute is deployed in the U.S., the reserve must be packed in accordance with the foreign country’s requirements by an FAA rigger, or any person acceptable to the FAA. The repack cycle that applies is that required by the foreign country.
Of course, a foreign skydiver may also jump a TSO’d rig, but what then? The answer is "he falls under Section 105.43 and is subject to U.S. rules, including the 180-day repack cycle, and reserve packed by an FAA rigger." By what logic? Part 105 says if you are jumping "approved" equipment, you fall under Section 105.43, and if you are jumping "unapproved" equipment, you fall under Section 105.49. Furthermore, he does not meet the definition of "foreign parachutist" if his TSO’d rig was made in the U.S.A. (He would meet the definition if his TSO’d rig were made in his country, but he still would be jumping "approved" equipment, not "unapproved" equipment.)
In summary, if jumping TSO’d equipment, you are under 105.43 and are subject to FAA repack requirements. If jumping non-TSO’d equipment, you are under Section 105.49 and are subject to your country’s repack requirements.
Q: Can a foreigner jump non-TSO’d gear in the U.S., and have his country’s repack rules apply?
A: Yes, if it’s his gear. "Unapproved" gear is jumped under 105.49, which allows foreign repack rules.
Q: Can a foreigner jump his TSO’d gear in the U.S., but have his country’s repack rules apply?
A: No. "Approved" gear is jumped under 105.43, and the U.S. repack rules apply.
Q: What reserve repack cycle must be applied to a foreigner’s non-TSO’d gear jumped in the U.S.?
A: What his country requires. The gear is "unapproved" and under 105.49, foreign repack rules apply.
Q: What reserve repack cycle must be applied to a foreigner’s TSO’d gear jumped in the U.S.?
A: 180 days. The gear is "approved," and therefore under 105.43, and the U.S. repack rules apply.
Q: Who is allowed to pack the reserve of the foreigner’s non-TSO’d gear?
A: An FAA rigger, whomever the foreign country allows, and anyone acceptable to the FAA.
Q: Who is allowed to pack the reserve of the foreigner’s TSO’d gear?
A: Only an FAA rigger.
Q: Must a foreigner’s non-TSO’d reserve first be repacked in the U.S. before it can be jumped?
A: No. As an unapproved rig, it falls under 105.49, which specifically says, "All foreign non-approved parachutes deployed by a foreign parachutist shall be packed as follows…" (Then goes on to say it can be packed in accordance with the country’s requirements.)
Q: Must a foreigner’s TSO’d reserve be repacked in the U.S. before it can be jumped?
A: Yes, if not previously packed by an FAA rigger. We’ve already said the rig falls under 105.43 (approved equipment). And 105.43 says, "The reserve parachute must have been packed by a certificated parachute rigger…" Odds are, when the foreigner brings his TSO’d rig into the U.S., it has not been packed by an FAA rigger. The reserve will need to be packed by an FAA rigger before it can be jumped.
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