General information for overseas visitors
Australia welcomes overseas jumpers. We try to make it easy for you to jump here. However, ultimately we are governed by the government and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), and there are some formalities we all have to comply with.
Australia is a big, sparsely populated country. Most people, including our 2000+ licensed skydivers live in cities on the coast. Many of Australian drop-zones are small, with one or two small Cessnas and operating at weekends only. There are larger drop-zones near the state capital cities, operating generally Cessna Caravans. Some of these operate full time, or may open mid-week if there is sufficient demand.
It is advisable to call the club or centre before going to the drop-zone. Not all drop-zones operate every weekend; only a few operate full time; some are tandem-only operations and may not cater for fun jumpers. They may help you with additional information, or be able to put you in touch with local jumpers, or be able to help with transportation to the drop-zone.
Visitors are advised to take out their own health insurance policies before arrival in Australia. Being sick or injured and uninsured can be very expensive. Make sure your insurance covers ambulance transportation since this is not a Government service in Australia.
Visiting overseas jumpers are covered by Part 4 of the APF's Operational Regulations. In essence, what it means to the overseas visitor is this:
A visiting overseas parachutist who holds a valid parachutist's licence issued by an FAI-affiliated organisation may make parachute descents after becoming an APF member and having their experience and competence assessed by a Chief Instructor.
There are a few options for taking out APF membership and any of these options can be organised on the day when you turn up to your selected drop zone. You may choose the best option for your length of stay. You can download Membership Form M1 and take it with you to the DZ to be completed.
Membership Options information and explanation.
We recognise the FAI Parachutist Certificate and the FAI Sporting Licence issued by your own National Parachuting Organisation. Bring your logbook to the drop-zone too, as the safety officer (DZSO) there may wish to check it.
However, note that the insurance that may come with membership of your own country's National Parachuting Organisation will probably NOT cover you in Australia. Drop-zone operators in Australia will require you to take out third party insurance by becoming a member of the Australian Parachute Federation. This is a simple matter which can be handled on any student training drop-zone, and covers you for a maximum of three months.
This means that you should ensure that the first drop-zone you visit in Australia is a student training drop-zone.
Contact first and talk to the Chief Instructor. Contact details are available though the Dropzone locator
The Chief Instructor will check your licences and logbook and should endorse your log to the effect that he/she assesses your experience as equivalent to a particular Australian licence level. You may then jump and enjoy the privileges of that licence level. Click here for Australian licence qualifications. Australian licences run from "A" (lowest) to "F" (highest).
Jumpers assessed at "A" licence standard are restricted to jumping at a training drop-zone. At other licence levels, a jumper may jump at non-training drop-zones too. In fact, the majority of drop-zones in Australia are run by training organisations.
Are covered by Part 3 of the APF's Operational Regulations. If you are invited to take part in a display by a Licensed Display Organiser, you must acquire a Display Licence first. For the basic grade, this is a simple matter of paying the fee which covers the extra cost of insurance for these jumps. You must also have been assessed at least at "B" licence level (about 50 jumps and demonstrated basic RW and accuracy skills) in order to make a display jump.
In Australia, APF regulations require less experienced parachutists must have either an RSL or an AAD fitted to their rig and jumper below "D" must have an AAD. This does not apply if you have been assessed as at "E" licence level or above (about 500 jumps). If you don't have one, get an RSL or AAD fitted before you want to jump at an Australian drop-zone.
NOTE: Some Australian DZs require ALL parachutists to have an airworthy AAD fitted to their rigs.
If you intend to stay in Australia and continue jumping your parachuting equipment must be built to TSO or similar standards. (See APF ES 081014) Some rigs (especially copies of other rigs) may not meet these standards and may not be jumped in Australia.
However, APF Equipment Standard APF010901 waivers this regulation, allowing temporary visitors from overseas on an APF short-term membership to jump their own equipment. The waiver is limited to visiting foreign parachutists:
- who become a short-term member of the Australian Parachute Federation,
- whose parachute system meets the civil aviation authority requirements of the foreign parachutist's country,
- who use the equipment solely for their own personal use, and
- who take the parachute equipment with them when they depart Australia.
See also Equipment Standard ES-APF021201 re the use by overseas visitors of equipment brought into Australia which has been packed overseas.
Note: You still need to comply with the requirements for an AAD or RSL as described above.
Your equipment and packing card will probably be inspected by the Drop-Zone Safety Officer: the signature of your overseas rigger on the packing card will usually be acceptable. A reserve inspection and repack must be done by a holder of a Packer "A" or "Rigger" rating in Australia.
If you wish to do any of the following things, you must first become a full term member of the Australian Parachute Federation, obtain the necessary licences etc, and make the required applications. Ask for more details about this when you get here, or read our Operational Regulations:
Instructional, including Tandem-Master, duties - Converting overseas instructor ratings
Converting overseas instructor ratings
APF Policy - Overseas Parachute Instructor Ratings - Conversion To APF Ratings
These notes have been prepared as a guide to the requirements for jumpers from overseas holding Instructor ratings who wish to act as Instructors in Australia.
For people holding a rigger rating issued overseas, see the APF document "Military and Overseas Rigger Qualifications - Conversion to APF Ratings".
Each Drop Zone has a Chief Instructor (CI) if you wish to become an instructor within the APF system you must first have the recommendation of a CI.
This recommendation is to be signed off on Form R1 - application for new instructor rating form.
There are minimum requirements for converting instructional ratings/endorsements: 200 tandem jumps as qualified Tandem Master, 100 AFF jumps as qualified AFF instructor, 100 dispatches as qualified Static Line (SL) or Instructor Assisted Deployment (IAD) instructor. Circle the O/S Conversion option, indicate which endorsement(s) you wish to apply for, complete the form (your CI should be able to help you) and send it with payment to the APF office.
You will be required to provide verifiable evidence of your instructional experience – your current log book(s), Licences, Ratings, Membership and Medical Certificate (if you require a Tandem endorsement) will all be required.
As part of your membership application, your CI can issue you with any Certificate Class up to E, any crest and a Display General, if he/she feels you meet the requirements.
There are two options for tandem instructors to obtain their tandem medical:
- Class 2 pilots Medical. get an address for an aero-medical Doctor here
- Tandem Instructor Medical information
Disciplines and endorsements
If you have less than the required 200 tandem jumps or the 100 AFF jumps/ SL/IAD dispatches, you will be required to complete the full endorsement process – written, oral and practical examinations.
You will be sent an e-mail with links to the required study material. The assessment process will be managed by a Safety and Training Officer (STO), who will also verify experience by checking logbooks, videos, overseas rating documentation, packing ability etc. The STO may appoint another examiner to conduct the assessments. AN STO will usually remain in contact with your nominated CI throughout the process.
You will require to do a certain amount of study in order to pass the written exam. Your nominated CI will guide you through this process and assist you to be prepared. Once you feel you are ready to undergo the assessments your CI will notify the STO.
It is a requirement that all instructor rating applicants must be full members of the Australian Parachute Federation before being issued with APF Instructor or Tutor ratings. Annual membership fees apply.
Overseas groups, (clubs, teams, etc.) wishing to conduct training at an APF Club under their own national guidelines may apply for permission to do so to the Director Instructors. If approved the Director Instructors will issue a specific permission, outlining the conditions and limitations to be adhered to by the group and the APF Club. This permission is to be inserted into the Clubs Training Operations Manual (TOM).
See also Equipment Standard ES-APF010901 and ES-APF021201 re the use by overseas visitors of equipment manufactured and packed overseas.
PLEASE NOTE: For further information refer to PART 4 of the APF Operational Regulations.
Gain a Packer or Rigger rating - Converting Military and Overseas Rigger Qualifications (without this you may not pack reserves, or pack mains for student use);
APF Policy - Military and Overseas Rigger Qualifications - Conversion To APF Ratings
The following notes have been prepared as a guide for military and overseas qualified personnel who wish to gain APF ratings.
Each case is considered on its merits, so these notes should be used as a guide only. Persons with military or overseas qualifications who wish to gain APF ratings should discuss their case with the Manager Safety & Training or the National Rigging Officer.
The APF Packer/Rigger certification scheme is designed to certify people to cater for the needs of the sport parachuting community. It is not designed primarily for the packing and/or maintenance of other parachute equipment, although it is recognised that the APF ratings are the only civilian ratings available in Australia.
APF ratings may be granted to and held by full members of the Australian Parachute Federation for which annual membership fees apply. Additionally, there is a fee for examination and issue of ratings. Ratings are valid for two years from issue. Membership and rating application - Form P1 forms are available from this office, or from any parachute club.
The APF administers three grades of Packer/Rigger ratings -
- Packer "B" (to pack main parachutes),
- Packer "A" (to pack reserve and main parachutes),
listed from most junior to most senior.
The prerequisites for issue of these ratings and the privileges of holders of the ratings are defined in the APF Operational Regulations, Sections 17 to 18. None of the prerequisites may be waived because of previous military or overseas experience. Any waiver must be approved by the National Rigging Officer and by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
APF Packer and Rigger ratings do not restrict the holder to work on particular types of parachutes. Candidates are expected to have sufficient knowledge to be able to approach the packing or maintenance of any sport parachute equipment with confidence. Thus a person whose previous experience is limited to a narrow range of equipment is expected to gain experience of the full range of equipment types in common use before an APF rating can be issued.
The full written examination is required for any candidate. However, a candidate who can produce satisfactory evidence of previous experience may be permitted to sit a shorter practical exam, and, where applicable, oral exam. Where a person with previous experience sits more than one exam simultaneously (as for example, a candidate for Rigger, who must also gain the prerequisite Packer "A" rating), a single exam fee, and a single examination, will normally apply.
Useful study material for the written exams are:
- The FAA Riggers Handbook
- "The Parachute Manual" by Dan Poynter (for all ratings)
- "Parachute Rigger Study Guide" by Deborah Blackmon/Dan Poynter (for Rigger ratings)
These books are available from parachute equipment supply houses.
Written exams and practical exams for the Packer ratings can be undertaken at most parachute clubs (ask for the Chief Instructor). The practical exams for the Rigger rating are organised by the APF Manager Safety & Training or National Rigging Officer.
- Take responsibility for organising displays - Licenced Display Organiser (as opposed to jumping in a display, which you may do, as described earlier.);
- Jump in a tight display requiring a Display Licence higher than the General Display Licence. (to gain an Display "Pro" or "Open" Licence)
Things that you may find different here compared to your own country
- The Club Chief Instructor is God: what he/she says goes!
- All jumpers (including tandem passengers and other students) must be a member of the Australian Parachute Federation.
- Maximum wind speed for jumping is 25 knots if you have over 100 jumps and ram-air main and reserve. Otherwise you are limited to 20 knots. For students, it's 15 knots.
- Australian aviation measures altitude in feet - but a metric altimeter is acceptable.
- Tandem passengers are classified as students, and must come under the supervision of a Chief Instructor and a training organisation. Minimum age for a tandem passenger is 12 years.
- We have "E" and "F" licences. Most countries do not issue licences above "D". Our higher licences essentially allow the holder to jump into tighter display areas (so long as you also have a Display Licence).
- We have a 12 month repack cycle for reserve parachutes for Licensed members (APF Certificate Class B - F). Student, Novice, Tandem and Pilot emergency parachute equipment have a 6 month repack cycle.
Australia presently offers training under the Freefall Training table and Solo Freefall (Static-Line & Instructor Assist) table schemes. All student jumps are made with ram-air mains and ram-air reserves.
Many drop zones use the (TAS) emergency system, which includes a two pull - cutaway-RH / reserve-LH. Many drop-zones use dual action systems (DOS) which is effectively an SOS on both sides of your harness. In this way a student trained on a two pull, cutaway-RH / reserve-LH system can jump without changing their emergency drills.
A few DZs also use a single action (SOS) emergency system (one handle cuts away the main and then deploys the reserve).
Although the details of the Australian training tables may vary a little from those used in other countries, students should generally find it possible to continue training in Australia. However, note that travel from one drop-zone to another is not greatly encouraged at an early stage of training. In some cases, continuing your training when you return home may be better than changing instructors, equipment, drop-zones, emergency routines, etc.
A student wishing to continue training in Australia will need to show his/her logbook to the Chief Instructor. A letter of recommendation from your own training organisation overseas will often help, too.
Also consult the APF Board policy regarding jumpers with non-APF qualifications.
APF Board policy regarding jumpers with non-APF qualifications
APF Policy - Recognition of non-APF Qualifications - December 1997
The APF Board has now settled a policy on the recognition of licences, ratings and other qualifications issued outside the APF such as by the military, overseas organisations, and other Australian organisations.
Full details are available from the office. The main points are:-
- A person may be a member of more than one parachuting organisation.
- When jumping with an APF organisation, APF regulations apply.
- A non-APF member wishing to jump under APF regulations, must:
- Join the APF and gain the required qualifications; or
- Join the APF and be assessed by a CI, as per overseas jumpers.
- The CI assessment expires after 3 months and is not renewable. After that, full APF membership, licences etc is required. The assessment is to allow a short term visitor or person from another organisation to jump with minimal formalities under special arrangements.
- Only an APF full member may exercise the privileges of any rating (Packer/Rigger, Instructor) under APF regulations.
- There is no portability or convertibility of non-APF qualifications into the APF system. A person may be issued an APF Certificate or crest if they fulfil the following conditions:
- Be a member of APF.
- Where there is a requirement for the applicant to fulfil the conditions of issue of a more junior qualification, a Chief Instructor may assess the applicant's ability to fulfil these conditions.
- The conditions for the qualification applied for (other than number of jumps) must, except with the authority of the Manager Safety & Training, be met while jumping with an APF member organisation. This means that an overseas jumper with 100 jumps may be issued a "Certificate Class C" provided the CI assesses them as OK to "Certificate Class B" standard (RW and spotting ability OK), and they meet the specific "Certificate Class C" requirements (Accuracy) on an APF drop zone.
- A CI may assess a jumper's ability in any suitable manner, including scrutiny of log books, direct observation of the jumper's skill, or test jumps.
- There is no portability or convertibility of non-APF ratings into the APF system. A person may only be issued an APF rating if they meet the conditions outlined in the APF Op. Regs. The relevant APF Officer may allow an abbreviated examination for a person with qualifications from a non-APF organisation, and may waive or modify the requirement to hold a junior rating for a period, if applicable.
- Instructional duties performed with a non-APF organisation may not be used to qualify for APF instructor ratings (including revalidations) except with the authority of the Manager Safety & Training. This is because APF has no control over the standards applied by other organisations.
- Packing and rigging work performed by a qualified APF member on equipment owned or used by non-APF members may be used to demonstrate currency for revalidation of an APF packer/rigger rating.
- If a person who holds an APF packer/rigger rating also holds a packer/rigger rating issued by another organisation and carries out any packing/rigging work, that person must ensure that all relevant records show under which organisation's regulations the work was performed.
- Equipment used by APF members jumping under APF auspices must be maintained to APF standards. Where maintenance by a packer/rigger is required, the maintenance must be carried out by the holder of an APF packer/rigger rating.
- Where jumping is conducted under APF auspices, the following conditions must apply:
- The manifest must be clearly separate from any manifest of parachuting operations not under APF auspices.
- No parachuting operations may be carried out under APF auspices from any aircraft sortie in which parachute descents are made under the auspices of any other parachuting organisation.
- A person supervising operations under the auspices of a non-APF organisation may not act as DZSO for operations under APF auspices. These are CASA requirements.
- APF has no control over persons or organisations other than its own members and organisations. Any other organisation may chose to recognise any qualification issued by APF if it so wishes. APF states explicitly that it accepts no responsibility for any action by any person operating outside the auspices of APF. In particular, it does not accept liability for the actions of rating holders where the rating holder is not operating under the auspices of APF.
- All jumpers are reminded that:
- APF insurance cover is valid only while jumping under APF auspices in accordance with APF regulations.
- All jumpers jumping with non-APF organisations should ensure that they are adequately covered by insurance.
This is especially relevant to instructors, packers and riggers.
Issue of an APF qualification to a person who has gained a similar qualification outside the auspices of APF should not be assumed to be a speedy procedure. Such people may be required to prove their suitability to hold an APF qualification, and this process may be extensive. A jumper who wishes to obtain an APF licence to allow them to (say) jump at the APF Nationals should reckon on being present at an APF drop zone for some weekends to allow adequate time for the Chief Instructor to assess their ability.
The Board of the Australian Parachute Federation