NTSB: Parasailing "Largely" Unregulated

By Grant Sloan | gsloan@kolr10.com

Published 07/02 2014 06:36PM

Updated 07/02 2014 07:10PM

BRANSON, Mo.--The National Transportation Safety Board has requested that the Coast Guard require new regulations for parasail operators.  It follows an investigation into a series of incidents where people were either seriously injured, or killed, while flying hundreds of feet off the ground.

Captain Sam Sandt with American Para-Sail, said he agrees with the NTSB safety regulations, but said the report minimizes the safety precautions many operators already take each day.

"I would not minimize anybody's injury or a fatality due to parasailing,  It's a serious thing and we want to be as safe as we can, " Sandt said.  "But it's all about acceptable risks, you get in your car every day and you don't think about the dangers you accept."

An investigation by the NTSB found a number of safety concerns, such as the possibility of operators flying in hazardous conditions, or using equipment that's worn out.

The investigation also found that certain knots in tow lines can reduce the strength of the line by up to 70%.

"There should never be any knots in there," Sandt said,  "They are sewn to the parasail and then sewn to the harness."

Captain Sandt said he's always upfront with his passengers about the risks, but said many captains do everything in their power to offer a safe, enjoyable experience.

Sandt said, "I believe the majority of our operators are quite aware of the limitations of the equipment."

Sandt also said many operators, including himself, already follow the American Society of Testing Materials Guidelines (ASTM).

In addition to watching the weather constantly, he keeps flight and maintenance logs, and checks his equipment in-between each flight.

"It was inspected 11-13 of 13," Sandt said while showing a label on the parasail.  "All our equipment will be returned to the manufacturer on a yearly basis."

Sandt said, while the equipment has labels for the extremes it can withstand, he always stays under that threshold.

"That way you have margin for error; it’s more costly for me, I burn more fuel, but I like to have a little bit more of a safety margin," Sandt said.  "I really think a lot of operators do that."

Some of the NTSB purposed regulations would require licenses for parasail operators, like Sandt, and also implementing many of the ASTM standards.

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