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Practices for Parasailing Operations

Although it is a relatively young ASTM subcommittee, F24.65, part of ASTM International Committee F24 on Amusement Rides and Devices, has already had a positive influence on the parasailing industry.

The subcommittee is currently working on a comprehensive proposed new standard, WK46657, Practices for Parasailing, that will provide best practices for owners and operators of parasailing operations.

Formation of F24.65 and F2993

Larry Meddock, executive director, Water Sports Industry Association, and an F24.65 member, says that the subcommittee was formed after the WSIA was approached by the U.S. Coast Guard to support an effort to create parasailing standards through the ASTM consensus process. The concept was introduced at the first Parasail Operators Symposium in January 2011, and Subcommittee F24.65 organized soon afterward.

The initial efforts of F24.65 led to the development and approval of ASTM standard F2993, Guide for Monitoring Weather Conditions for Safe Parasail Operation, in 2013.

F24.65 began its work by focusing on the effect of weather on parasailing.

“It became very obvious that most, if not all, incidents that occur while parasailing had one common thread: bad weather,” says Meddock. “Once we began speaking about weather, we found that many owner/operators had various opinions on what was considered acceptable weather. When you then begin to factor in the seas that weather can produce, it becomes more complicated.”

Meddock says that F2993 explains in great detail the wind, seas, periods of wave, wind gusts, visibility and lightning that are acceptable and not acceptable for parasailing.

WK46657, Practices for Parasailing

F24.65’s proposed new standard, WK46657, covers weather, equipment, operations, crew and patron responsibility as described below:

  • Weather: Weather monitoring equipment and weather conditions in which parasailing activities may be conducted.
  • Equipment: Equipment required to be aboard a parasail vessel, including maintenance and record keeping.
  • Operations: Pre-flight and in-flight operations as well as emergency procedures.
  • Crew: Crew member training requirements, duties and responsibilities and record keeping.
  • Patron Responsibility: Provides a list of inherent responsibilities that passengers engaging in parasailing have.

F24.65 and the White-Miskell Act

F24.65’s work to increase the safety of parasailing has earned the commendation of Maria Lorts Sachs, a Florida state senator who sponsored the bill now known as the White-Miskell Act, which was signed into law by Florida Governor Rick Scott in June. The act requires that parasail operators:

  • Carry certain levels of liability insurance;
  • Have weather monitoring equipment on board during flights; and
  • Cease operations during sustained winds of 20 miles an hour or wind gusts of 25 miles per hour.

“The White-Miskell Act was recently signed into law, creating new safety regulations for parasailing in Florida,” says Sachs. “Without the help of WSIA, ASTM International and parasail operators around the state, this law would not be reality. Due to their willingness to help craft commonsense safety measures and their advocacy, parasailing will be safer for residents and tourists all across our great state.”

Additionally, the U.S. Coast Guard fully supports the ongoing development and implementation of internationally recognized ASTM standards to improve safety throughout the parasail industry.

According to a statement from the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance, “While safety improvement is a continual evolution, the efforts taken by the parasail community to improve safety within the industry is commendable. In addition to ASTM standard development, the Coast Guard recognizes the need for continued coordination between the industry and federal, state and local agencies and associations towards parasailing safety.”

All interested parties, particularly parasailing owner/operators, are encouraged to join in the development of WK46657.

CoNTACT Technical Information: Larry Meddock, Water Sports Industry Association • Orlando, Fla. • Phone: 407-620-7992 | ASTM Staff: Katerina Koperna • Phone: 610-832-9728 | Upcoming Meeting: Nov. 6-8 • St. Petersburg, Fla.

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.