The Army has decided to stop using a new parachute after a Soldier fell 800 feet to his death this month.

The T-11 parachute was touted as a revolutionary design that contributed to a 70 percent reduction in injuries by airborne troopers. The square-shaped T-11 has a bigger surface area and offers a gentler ride and touchdown to today’s heavier (more equipment-laden and better physical shape) Soldiers, Army officials have said. PEO Soldier says the canopy is 28 percent larger and descent is 49 percent slower than the round T-10.

Now Army investigators say Staff Sgt. Jamal Clay fell to his death last month because his T-11 parachute malfunctioned. Clay died during a training exercise at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

An internal Army memo says investigators found “potential packing, inspection, quality control and functionality problems” with the T-11 parachute system.

According to the memo, Secretary of the Army John McHugh ordered the suspension of the parachute’s use until a safety investigation is completed.

The Army put out a bunch of videos and invited the media out to Bragg to attest to how awesome the new parachute was. I wonder why the Army suspended use of the T-11 after one death given that thousands of jumps have occurred without incident. This doesn’t seem knee jerk to me, but leads me to think that there may be something wrong with the design, or the way Soldiers are packing/using it.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff July 13, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Hmm… could it be that the larger parachute also means it might not open?

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James July 13, 2011 at 3:59 pm

What kind of malfunction? Did the chute never come out of its pack tray, did something cause it to not fully inflate, or not at all? or was there some other kind of malfunction? I'm airborne myself and this does worry me, because I've heard reports that SSG Clay never opened his reserve. Does that mean he the malfunction was of a type that caused him to think it opened properly, when it didn't? I know they jumped at night when he died and its possible in the the low light he could have missed something like that, particularly since it was (reportedly) only his third time jumping the T-11. And does this safety standown include the MC-6/SF-10 parachute too?

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Ranger Henry July 13, 2011 at 4:51 pm

bring back the T-10's; I made over fourty(40) jumps from C-130's 141's and helicoptors; chinooks and c-47's and although I had a cigar roll; and several mae west's ; I 've never would' have switched .

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LuckyBastard July 13, 2011 at 4:52 pm

They don't know why Clay didn't open his reserve. The Army suspended use not because of SSG Clay's death, but because of the results of the investigation of the T-11s on Bragg which consisted of an inspection which found a lot of deficiencies in the way they were packed and inspected by the riggers. Put it simply, after reading the results of the inspection, we're lucky there weren't more deaths as there were three major deficiencies which could cause a failure to deploy found in a significant portion of the chutes. For one of the deficiencies you had a one in three chance of drawing a bad chute. SSG Clay was the first unlucky bastard to draw one. RIP

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FormerSFMedic July 13, 2011 at 5:48 pm

This is an unfortunate accident and a testament once again to the Army's poor training. It's not just weapons and tactics where the Army falls short. It is my thought that the riggers may have not packed the chute properly due to their lack of proper training. I could be wrong, but they certainly make it sound that way.

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Randy Fowler July 13, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Ranger Henry, I was a Parachute Rigger for over 26 years and had over a thousand jumps from many diffrent types of aircraft. I never had a malfunction with the T-10's or T-10-MC1-C chutes that I jumped in all of those years. If I were you, I would get out of the parachute jumping business, especially when you have a Mae West with parachutes which have a anti-inversion net sewed to the canopy. You Ranger Henry have achevied the impossible. By the way…a rigger can not pack a malafuction into the parachute unless the parachute supervisor is in on the conspiracy to murder someone.

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FormerDirtDart July 14, 2011 at 5:58 am

Hell with parachuting, Ranger Henry should be careful crossing the damn street. He would have to be one of the most unlucky Rangers that has ever served.

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Tyler c September 19, 2013 at 4:27 am

1000 jumps? That’s over 3 a month. You riggers must have had your own personal C130.

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William C. July 13, 2011 at 10:45 pm

RIP to the good Staff Sergeant.

Hope they get to the bottom of this.

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BFCO July 14, 2011 at 5:10 am

No one ever said it was a safe or easy to be in the airborne. The Staff Sargent paid the full price for the rest of us to sleep easy at night. He had the watch, We owe him, and many others, for the sacrifices they make Daily for us. Rest easy Solder.

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SFC July 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm

He probably had a bad exit, hit the side of the plane, and was unconscious so he didn't pull his reserve. I was on that jump that night.

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haloguy628 July 14, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Was that a Hollywood jump? The T-11 has slider that must come down in order for the canopy to completely deploy. The problem may be that the Lo-Po material and the increased square footage may be too good for slowing down the descent, however needs certain suspended weight in order to function properly.

The SSG might have had partial malfunction with slider deployed only mid-way and high rate of descent. It was a night jump so he could not judge his rate of descent and therefore did not deploy reserve. Anyway that's my guess which may not be the case. RIP SSG.

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Jake Bennett July 15, 2011 at 10:17 am

It was a JOAX. There is no way he would have jumped hollywood unless it was his first jump in division and he had over 30.

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SGT July 16, 2011 at 10:13 am

Really? I made plenty of Hollywood jumps in the div after my first. Also my first jump in the 82nd was not a Hollywood jump. I joined the unit in a training cycle and had an f.t.x my first week. This is one dumb freaking comment Jake.

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bluqe July 19, 2011 at 11:24 am

I guess everyone is entitled to an opinion. It does not have to be right or wrong,it is just an opinion. Personally I'll wait on the conclusion of the o0fficial investigation. Think positively, that helps.

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Frank McCoin July 19, 2011 at 11:38 am

No one said it was easy.

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john hurley July 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm

where did you find aC47

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eggerist July 19, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Never easy being Airborne….as hubby always told me….the only thing that falls from the sky…._is bird shit and fools….he was Airborne for 23 years.

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JOHN WEBBER July 21, 2011 at 9:58 am

It is a " Hellva a way to Die" as the Airborne song goes. I was on jump status for over 30 years.
You can not beat MC 1 -1.

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ThaiHalo August 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Anyone want to borrow my T5, Slick as silk oh yea it is silk and would jump it in a heartbeat, But ALS kind of screws that up. Got a bunch of T7's and a whole lot more of T10's but I got to agree with the MC 1, It's awsum.

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ranger mike August 30, 2011 at 6:18 am

Such a moron, I've exited every military and civilian aircraft domestic and foreign for 28 yrs and have never heard or seen anyone hit the side of an aircraft no matter how bad they exit. RE- think.

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PJ Master Rigger October 21, 2011 at 9:53 am

The problem with the T-10 really comes down to overloading the paratrooper. The T-10 was designed for a maximum load of 333 pounds. The modification of the T-10 to the MC-1C resulted in a slower ROD but again it tended to be overloaded. The T-10 design is extremely reliable. Rumor has it that the T-11 is very hard to pack. The T-10 is much easier in comparison. As with any new system, unforeseen kinks have to be worked out. If it is basically a good design, that will happen. If the T-11 is not basically a good design, tweaking it will be fruitless. It is probably too soon to tell.

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Richard Baker January 31, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I believe Ranger Henry meant CH-47 and not C-47. The Army will work out the bugs in this system. RIP SSG Clay.

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