Tandem Instructor Training

Recommended Tandem Water Landing Procedure

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If a water landing seems imminent, remain calm, inform your passenger and follow these steps; ( listed in order of priority )

  • Fit and inflate passenger’s life vest.  Ask your passenger to fully inflate the life vest by pulling the tab firmly downwards.
    If the life vest does not inflate , ask the passenger to fully inflate the life vest manually with the mouth tube.
  • Brief your passenger for water landing.
    This should include;
  • Legs up in front , feet together.
  • Holding the lifejacket with both hands and pulling downwards to prevent the jacket popping off their head upon entry into the water.
  • A countdown to landing including taking a deep breath and holding it just before entering the water.
  • Disconnect side adjusters and stow hooks to prevent entanglement with lines etc. once in the water
  • Disconnect RSL
  • Undo Tandem Masters chest strap. Leave passengers harness as is.
  • Ensure helmet visor is open
  • Face into wind for landing
  • Aim to land as close as safely possible to boats
  • Land well away from breaking waves
  • Remind passenger to lift legs , hold vest and countdown to entry , hold breath.
  • Flare as for a normal landing , aiming to enter the water vertically and with minimal forward speed.
  • Once in the water;
  • Cutaway main canopy , if under reserve collapse reserve by hauling in one brake line
  • If covered by the canopy , remain calm , stay connected and follow the seams on the canopy for the quickest route to freedom. Ask the passenger to assist.
  • Disconnect the passenger once clear of the equipment.
  • Fit and inflate your life vest.
  • Remain with your passenger and if possible stay close to the equipment as a floating canopy is a great signal for rescuers.
  • Conserve energy and stay warm until help arrives.

Download PDF with detailed background



It is standard practice that Tandem Masters (TM’s) across the world are required to pass a medical test in order to hold a valid tandem rating or endorsement. The reason is obvious: A TM is responsible for the tandem student. The TM is the “pilot in command” or the “parachutist in command” and any serious health issue may put the student at risk. The fact that most tandems are done for commercial purposes with tandem students being paying customers, accentuates the need for a medical.

The international standard is for TM’s to hold a civil aviation agency medical (e.g. CASA Class 2, US FAA Class 3, Brazilian ANAC Class 3, etc.). Some time ago APF introduced the "GP Tandem Medical" as an alternative to the CASA Class 2 in order to make it easier for TM’s to get the medical done from a practical point of view. The intention was never to lower the standard of the medical or examination and was supposed to be done by the TM’s regular GP who has known the TM and his/her medical background for a period of time.   

As per RS 53 par 6.3, the APF requirement is still (and has always been) a CASA "private pilot/Class 2" medical, with an alternative that may be accepted.

The GP medical became problematic: GP’s have reported TM’s to CASA who refuse to accept unfavourable results and simply visit another GP; False or forged GP medicals have been submitted; Some examinations have proven to be grossly inadequate; Numerous TM’s visit a new GP simply for the sake of obtaining the TM medical, which defeats the purpose of this alternative. As a result of the numerous problems and challenges, the GP Tandem medical is not accepted by APF anymore. 

Current APF alternative: CASA Basic Class 2 Medical Certificate

The APF requirement will still be a CASA Class 2 medical. However, TM’s will have the alternative to obtain a CASA Basic Class 2 medical certificate, which may be accepted by the APF (See RS 53, par  6.5 and 7.1.2).    

What is this?

The Basic Class 2 is an alternative CASA medical for pilots of private day operations flying under VFR. It allows for fewer privileges than a standard Class 2 medical certificate but is simpler to obtain, as the examination can be done by a GP.

The medical standard is exactly the same as a commercial driver standard (Austroads). Examinations are conducted by any medical practitioner who can conduct a motor vehicle driver examination.

How does it work?

Before logging onto the CASA Medical Records System (MRS) to commence your application for a Basic Class 2, you need to first book an appointment with a general medical practitioner or DAME. The details of this appointment are necessary to help complete the documents you need to take with you to your medical examination.

To apply for any CASA medical certificate an applicant requires an ARN (Aviation Reference Number). There is no cost involved and CASA issues this number within 5 days (but can be as quick as a couple of hours).

Below is a summary of the steps you will need to complete to obtain a Basic Class 2 medical certificate.

  1. Book appointment with medical practitioner or DAME
  2. Obtain CASA Aviation Reference Number (ARN) 
  3. Log onto CASA online medical registration system (MRS) 
  4. Confirm correct email and address
  5. Apply for your medical certificate
  6. Download and print medical questionnaire
  7. Take CASA medical questionnaire to appointment
  8. Complete required tests and medical examinations
  9. Log back into MRS and finalise application, pay online CASA fee of $10
  10. Await the issue of your medical certificate 
  11. Submit your new medical certificate to the APF Office at apf@apf.com.au



What are the costs?

The only costs involved is the GP consultation fee which may vary, and the $10 CASA fee for the Basic Class 2 medical certificate. There is no cost involved in obtaining an ARN.

What will change for TM’s and when?

The new Operational Regulations and Regulatory Schedules with the new medical requirements came into effect on 18 April 2018.

Any current valid TM medical (including GP medicals and RAMPC) will remain valid until the date of expiry.

The Basic Class 2 can be valid for up to 5 years if the person is under 40 years old, and 2 years if 40 or older.


Charl Rootman
Safety & Training Manager

7 February 2020

Tandem Master Emergency Procedures Checklist (SIGMA)

# Emergency Procedure
1 Normal opening sequence
2 Unable to deploy drogue

Deploy reserve immediately.

3 Drogue bridle entangled with gear or tandem pair.

Inflated Drogue?

Not inflated drogue?

Try to clear, if unsuccessful, pull reserve handle above 3,000ft.


4 Drogue not inflated/ collapsed

Pull drogue release handle after 6-8 seconds.

5 Left or right arm incapacitated through interference by passenger or injury, drogue out

Attempt to free arm, release drogue at altitude, can use secondary drogue release

6 Cannot find or pull either drogue release handle

Pull reserve handle.

7 Container opens during freefall, drogue not deployed yet.

Deploy drogue immediately.

8 Only left drogue release handle (primary) pulled, no deployment appears to be happening

Pull secondary drogue release.

9 Both drogue release handles pulled, no deployment appears to be happening

Use elbows on side of container to try to dislodge main bag. If no response, inflated drogue in tow – pull reserve handle.


10 Main deploys, drogue entangled with main or lines

Decide if malfunction is safe to land before hard deck– if not, pull cutaway handle and then reserve handle.

11 Full line stretch, but main remains in deployment bag (bag lock)

Locate both emergency handles, cutaway, ensure full release of both risers, pull reserve handle.

12 Line over

Assess, cutaway and deploy reserve no lower than hard deck.

13 Step through on main

Assess, cutaway and deploy reserve no lower than hard deck.

14 Main malfunctions, and passenger is incapacitating TM’s right arm.

Release arm, cutaway and deploy reserve.



Main malfunctions, and passenger is incapacitating TM’s left arm.

With an RSL?

Without an RSL?

Release arm, cutaway and deploy reserve.


16 Engine failure at 8000ft

Prepare for exit, listen for instructions from the pilot.

17 Engine failure at 4000ft

Prepare for exit, listen for instructions from the pilot.

18 Engine failure at 1500ft

Prepare for landing, listen for instructions from the pilot.

19 Catastrophic structural failure at 7000ft.

Exit, deploy main.

20 Catastrophic structural failure at 2000ft.

Exit, deploy reserve

21 Engine failure at 5000ft over the ocean.

Exit, deploy main, prepare for water landing.

22 Passenger refuses to jump before door opens.

Don’t jump.

23 Passenger refuses to jump, hanging half way outside the aircraft.

Assess, if more difficult to climb back in, exit as normal.

24 Side spin.

Implement side spin recovery procedures; if successful, deploy drogue. If unsuccessful and drogue side up, deploy drogue, if drogue side down, deploy reserve.

25 Cameraman entangled with drogue/ drogue bridle.

Release RSL, cutaway, pull drogue release, track and gain vertical separation, deploy reserve.

26 Drogue bridle breaks or detaches as drogue release is pulled (no drogue, container is open, main still in container).

Use elbows on side of container to try to dislodge main bag. If no response, release RSL, cutaway, ensure full release of main risers, pull reserve handle.


27 Drogue bridle breaks at disk during drogue fall. (no drogue, container is closed).

Deploy reserve.


Two canopies out.

Bi-plane or side by side?


Second bag out, canopy not yet deployed?


Download PDF

A review of Tandem Emergency Procedures for the Sigma Tandem System.

Presented by UPT Tandem Examiner Erika Dufort-Lefrancois, 2021 Safety Seminar Series, Skydive Vancouver Island.