Mile-Hi Skydiving’s training program is aligned with the U.S. Parachute Association’s national standards and all Federal Aviation Administration regulations, the company based at Longmont’s Vance Brand Municipal Airport said in a news release issued after a skydiver died on Saturday.
Mile-Hi identified the deceased parachutist on Saturday as Brock Barto, “one of our skydiving family,” and said he was “an experienced skydiver with hundreds of jumps … at many drop zones.”
In the Saturday news release distributed by Bryan Biesterfeld, an attorney with Robinson Waters & O’Dorisio P.C., Mile-Hi said it “will continue to adhere to the highest levels of safety going forward.”
However, Mile-Hi said, “Skydiving has risks, as do all outdoor sports people enjoy in the state of Colorado.”
It said that despite a comprehensive training program aligned with U.S. Parachute Association standards and FAA regulations, “accidents sometimes happen, and when they do, it is often the case that no regulations or guidelines could have prevented the incident.”
When contacted on Monday, Biesterfeld said he did not have information about what specific parachute association standards and FAA regulations Mile-Hi was referring to in its Saturday statement.
He did not furnish that information by Monday evening, but Mile-Hi’s website lists several requirements that appear to align with the parachute association’s Basic Safety Requirements, including a required minimum age of 18 and the guideline that those with ear or sinus problems, a history of seizures or fainting spells or a “weak heart” not skydive.
The skydiving company’s website also notes that first-time solo jumpers complete a five- to seven-hour classroom course before jumping.
Barto’s death Saturday was the fourth in less than a year that stemmed from skydivers’ jumps at the Longmont airport.
FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer in a Monday email said Saturday’s skydiving fatality “is under investigation.”
Kenitzer, in a separate email, said , “The FAA’s role in skydiving accidents is to inspect the parachute rigging, and FAA investigations generally focus on whether the parachute was properly packed by the appropriate person — a certified parachute rigger.”
He said, “The FAA regulates aviation safety, including the aircraft and pilot and the locations where skydivers can take place, but we do not regulate the jumping activity.”
When Longmont officials were asked Monday whether the city would be looking into further or amended safety procedures and requirements for Mile-Hi after the four fatalities, city spokesman Rigo Leal said, “The city is giving consideration of the facts that we have at this time, and we will be reviewing information provided by the FAA as a result of their investigation.
He wrote in an email that information and the report from a Safety Risk Management Analysis conducted by a consultant at the airport “will help the city, in consultation with the FAA, determine what procedural or rule changes the city may need to enact.”
Asked whether the city’s police investigation into the death was still underway, Leal said, “the FAA is investigating the accident and the city cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.”
In May, the city released a preliminary draft of the consultant’s report that recommended steps be taken to increase safety of skydivers and other users of the airport.
“There is no evidence to conclude that current skydiving operations” at Longmont’s airport “are critically unsafe and warrant immediate termination,” Quadrex Aviation LLC wrote in its report.
“However, on-site observations provided evidence” that skydivers using the airport “do not appear to be operating in a consistently disciplined manner that provides any level of comfort to other airport users,” wrote Quadrex, a Florida-based consulting firm Longmont hired to audit the safety and configuration of public use areas at Vance Brand Municipal Airport, including the landing area used by skydivers.
Leal said Monday that the final version, still being reviewed by staff, had “minor corrections and some additional documentation” but “no substantive changes from the preliminary report.”
United States Parachute Association Skydiver’s Information Manual, including a chapter on Basic Safety Requirements: uspa.org/SIM-ONLINE
Federal Aviation Administration Advisory on sport parachuting safety: tinyurl.com/y6braq9w
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