Setting up your own Skydiving Center
If you’re a bit of a thrill seeker, it doesn’t get much more thrilling or exhilarating than British Parachute Association. However, for those enthusiasts who just can’t get enough of it there is always the possibility of opening up your own commercial drop zone or Skydiving Center.
It appears that more and more people are trying skydiving for the first time
There are more centres popping up all over the world. According to the British Parachute Association (BPA) membership has increased by 5% year upon year. Furthermore, student provisional membership; which means those skydiving for the first time, was up 14% to a huge 59,863.
So not only could you free yourself to live your passion, it could also be extremely lucrative if the current trends continue.
It’s all about Location of the Skydiving Center
However, many skydiving enthusiasts have to endure a long trip to their nearest skydiving center. When thinking about opening a drop zone location is paramount.
Here are some key factors to consider:
Your centre must not be too near a large competitor’s and there must be enough clients and new clients to ensure that costs are met, so do your market research. You will need to think about what services you’d like to offer including tandem jumps for the newbies and possibly an Accelerated Freefall Program.
You will obviously need a large space with a good landing area. Airports are an obvious choice. But an airport can pose its own problems, if it is really busy for example. The location needs to be free of potential hazards such as trees that cover more than 3,000 metres, power lines, buildings , roads and vehicles and open bodies of water. Ideally, the landing zone should be a safe area for skydivers of all abilities.
Weather is another important factor to consider. Be aware of local weather conditions particularly in areas that are prone to regular or seasonal high winds; as this will affect the amount of available days or hours that it is safely possible to operate skydiving facilities. However, the maximum wind speed set out by the British Parachute Association (British Parachute Association) is 20 knots.
What the Federal Aviation Administration is bringing in
Moreover, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is bringing in new guidelines on requirements for any airports that has federal funds and is a skydiving center. The guidelines will include recommended size of landing strips and distance from potential hazards. As it stands now, the Sky Diving Instructor’s Manual (SIM) states that landing areas for skydivers should have the following minimal radial distances to the nearest hazard:
- Solo students and A-license holders—100 meters (320 ft).
- B- and C-license holders—50 meters (160 ft)
- D-license holders—Unlimited
License and Registration Requirements
Whichever country you plan to operate your new skydiving center in it is essential to contact and register with the appropriate skydiving authorities; who will not only guide you in the new venture. But will provide essential information that may save you a lot of money.
- USA – United States Parachute Association (USPA)
- UK – British Parachute Association (BPA)
- Canada – Canadian Sport Parachuting Association (CSPA)
- Australia: Australian Parachute Federation (APF)
- South Africa: Parachute Association of South Africa (PASA)
- New Zealand: New Zealand Parachute Federation (NZPF)
What is at a Skydiving Center anyways?
Many parachute and skydiving centers have to overcome complex problems regarding litigation, rules and regulations; along with insurance and local policies on clubs in the area. Membership to the official association of your country will go a long way in dealing with some of these issues.
In the UK permission is required to open a new Skydiving Center by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and there are similar authorities governing skydiving as a sport in other countries. Factors that are taken into consideration by the CAA are as follows:-
- Previous conduct and experience of the proposed operator.
- Experience of proposed operator.
- Equipment of the proposed operator. All equipment including parachutes, harnesses, aircraft must meet the safety regulations laid out by the governing bodies.
- Organization and staff of the operator: This means that the operator must ensure that all his staff, including aircraft pilots, parachute instructors and equipment checkers are fully trained and licensed to the appropriate level for their job.
Your Aircraft: Some Rules and Regulations
Furthermore, the breadth and scope of regulations for the aircraft, is understandably huge. Below are a few basics that apply to the UK. But this is by no means a full list; and it is a good idea to check with your own local authorities before investing in; or hiring aircraft for your operation.
- There is a maximum total weight for all aeroplanes that are used for dropping parachutists, in the UK this is no more than 5,700 kg. Check with your own area.
- The aircraft must be registered and the pilot must have a valid license that corresponds with that particular aircraft. If the aircraft is registered in a foreign country additional documentation and checks will be necessary.
- The aircraft must have a certificate of Airworthiness and must be approved by the CAA.
- Any modifications or equipment installed on the aircraft, such as static lines, must be approved by the CAA.
- Aircraft First Aid kit must be fully equipped and maintained to cover the amount of passengers on board at any one time.
- Installation of Fire Extinguishers must meet the approved safety standards.
- The aircraft must have an up-to-date individual flight manual.
- All appropriate legal documentation for the aircraft must be carried at all times.
This is only a brief guide, on some of the issues involved in setting up your own skydiving center. For an example of all the legislation and legal issues involved (in the UK) of setting up a sky diving centre you can take a look here at the minimum standards required by the Civil Aviation Authority.
Like any other major business plan, will involve a huge amount of research, legal requirements, time, money and a huge amount of effort.
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