Even though we always trust our training and believe we will be able to open our main and, when necessary, our reserve parachute, life is full of surprises, and we might need help at some point. Many factors can contribute to human error during skydiving. The most common story I heard is when an AAF Instructor or a coach needs to chase their student because he/she was not able to deploy the parachute. I listened to people talking about these situations, and sometimes, it led the skydiving instructor to a CYPRES fire. That is the reason I believe it’s a good idea to know more about how our CYPRES units work.

What is an AAD or Automatic Activation Device?

Basically speaking, an AAD is a device that will automatically open a skydiver’s reserve parachute in case someone can’t do it on their own. However, we have many factors to explain when we think about how our CYPRES works. You can find a lot about it in the CYPRES user guide.

How does my CYPRES AAD works?

When we switch our CYPRES on, it measures the air pressure (many times). That allows our CYPRES unit to have an average value for ground-level pressure. The device adjusts itself to any changing weather conditions. This very accurate calibration is how the Automatic Activation Device knows exactly the activation altitude and speed.

12 Things you (probably) didn’t know about your CYPRES AAD

When I started skydiving, I didn’t know much about the sport – and even less about the gear. I was using to jump out of airplanes. After 2 years skydiving, I went to a Safety Day at Skydance Skydiving. A friend explained to me more about my AAD. He told me how it works, some functionalities, what it measures, and so on. I got sponsored by CYPRES AAD. Thus as a good sponsored athlete, I decided that I need to know more about the products that support my passion. I got into the manual, and I came up with a super cool idea; I want to let you know the 12 things you probably didn’t know about your CYPRES AAD.

Did you know? 35 m/s is approximately 70% of freefall speed.

1. You can change the CYPRES firing altitude

Since 2013, CYPRES AAD offers its users the option of increasing the activation altitude. The usual activation altitude is 750 feet above ground level. However, my rigger and I decided to increase it to 1050 feet above ground level. Always ask your harness/container and reserve manufacturer for advice.

It’s essential to keep in mind that an inappropriate activation altitude can injure and kill. The higher the AAD activation altitude, the more likely to have a two canopy out scenario. On the other hand, the lower the CYPRES activation altitude, the greater the possibility of your reserve not being fully inflated at a sufficient altitude.

CYPRES Cutter Activation

2. CYPRES = Cybernetic Parachute RElease System

I always wondered how Mr. Helmut Cloth, CEO, and inventor, came up with the name CYPRES. The answer is right on the user guide’s page 3. CYPRES is the acronym of “CYbernetic Parachute RElease System”. Cybernetic means “self regulating”.

3. Trade-in Program

CYPRES AAD Device has a trade-in program for customers to receive a credit towards purchasing a new CYPRES 2. The program works by customers merely trading in their old CYPRES unit when they are ready to purchase and upgrade to the CYPRES 2. The CYPRES trade-in program is valid for 1-year after the service life of your device. Bring your old CYPRES to your dealer, and the discount will be automatically applied to your purchase of a new CYPRES 2.

If you trade-in your old CYPRES with a cutter, you will receive a $70 USD credit or €60. If you trade-in your old device without a cutter or activated cutter, you will receive a credit of $50 USD or €40.

4. AAD Maintenance & Service

The most significant part of the maintenance is the individual pre-adjustment of each unit for the next cycle. A unit will not be returned before a high confidence level is reached regarding the prediction of the unit’s proper function for the next cycle.

Reliability: As NOTHING lasts forever, the longer you use a device without a thorough check, the greater the chance that it does not work correctly every time you need it. Suppose you choose to not have maintenance performed on your device. In that case, you’re taking the risk that the reliability level will decrease. (See chapter 14.1 for maintenance/utilization cycle.).

  • For units with DOM 12/15 and earlier, the maintenance is mandatory 4 and 8 years after the original DOM. Service Life is 12.5 years.***
  • For units made in 2016, the maintenance can be performed voluntarily 4 and 8 years after the original DOM. Service Life is 12.5 years.***
  • For units with DOM 01/17 and later, the maintenance can be performed on a voluntary basis 5 and 10 years after the original DOM. Service Life is 15.5 years.***

Automatic Activation Device Cypres Service Photo

5. The CYPRES AAD measure air pressure twice a minute on the ground, but at least 8 times per second once airborne

Our atmosphere and weather changes – like the wind direction. However, we don’t have a windsock to measure the air pressure. Your CYPRES measures the air pressure twice a minute on the ground, ensuring that the AAD unit is always calibrated to the precise ground level. CYPRES also measures at least 8 times per second the air pressure once airborne. In other words, skydivers using a CYPRES unit will have their reserve parachute open at the most accurate altitude in case of an emergency.

6. How long my CYPRES AAD switched ON?

CYPRES AAD has a functioning period of 14 hours from when you switch it ON. Every time you switch it on, CYPRES executes a self-test routine during which all critical internal functions are checked. A positive outcome to this self-test should assure you of a trouble-free operation for up to 14 hours.

Always turn your AAD off after returning from a different landing area, or traveling from another location (e.g. landing off the intended DZ on a different elevation) and your CYPRES is still switched on, if in doubt, turn if off and on again. Safety first.

7. CYPRES AAD Modes

The changeable MODE CYPRES can be recognized by the magenta button with the white imprint “changeable MODE” on the control unit.

The user can switch this unit between the modes Exp – Stu – Tan – Spe on his own. The device parameters are identical with the ones from the CYPRES models Expert – Student – Tandem – Speed. All handling is entirely identical to these models.

When the unit is on, the current mode is indicated by a digit below the appropriate engraved mode.

– Expert AAD Mode

The Expert CYPRES can be recognized by the red button on the control unit.

It activates the release unit when it detects a rate of descent higher than approx. 78 mph (35 m/s) at an altitude of approx. 750 feet (approx. 225 meters) above ground level (AGL). In the event of a cutaway CYPRES will operate down to approx. 130 feet above ground level. Below approx. 130 feet (approx. 40 meters) above the ground level opening is no longer useful. For this reason, CYPRES ceases operation below approximately 130 feet above ground level.

– Tandem AAD Mode

The Tandem CYPRES can be recognized by the blue button with the imprint “Tandem “on the control unit.

It activates the release unit when it detects a rate of descent higher than approx. 78 mph (35 m/s) at an altitude of approx. 1900 feet (approx. 580 meters) above ground level.

Like the Expert CYPRES, the Tandem CYPRES ceases operation below approx. 130 feet (approx. 40 meters) above ground level.

– Student AAD Mode

The Student CYPRES can be recognized by the yellow button with the imprint “Student “on the control unit.

It activates the release unit when it detects a rate of descent higher than approx. 29 mph (13 m/s). The activation altitude is split in the case of the rate of descent being approx. That of free fall, the opening altitude is at approx. 750 feet (the same as with Expert CYPRES). However, should the rate of descent be lower than that of freefall but still above the limit of 29 mph (e.g., with partially opened canopy or after a cutaway), then Student CYPRES activates the release unit when the altitude falls below approx. 1000 feet (approx. 300 meters) above ground level.

Unlike the Expert and Tandem CYPRES models, we recommend that the Student CYPRES be switched off in the aircraft before descent if the jump is aborted. If the student must land in the plane, the aricraft can exceed the student mode activation speed.

– Speed AAD Mode

The Speed CYPRES can be recognized by the red button with the white imprint “Speed “on the control unit.

It will activate the release unit when it detects a rate of descent higher than approx. 102 mph (approx. 46 m/s) at an altitude below approx. 750 feet (approx. 225 meters) above ground level. Unlike the Expert CYPRES, the Speed CYPRES ceases operation below approx. 330 feet (approx. 100 meters) above ground level.

The Speed CYPRES is designed to allow extreme canopy piloting. The high activation speed plus the unit’s feature ceases operation below 330 feet are tailored for this discipline.

– Wingsuit AAD Mode

The WSC can be recognized by the red button with the white Wing Suit Logo imprint on the control unit.

As long as the WSC works in wingsuit status, it activates the unit at a vertical speed higher than approx. 45 mph (20 m/s) at an altitude of approx 750 feet (approx 225 meters) above ground level and down to approx. 130 feet (40 meters).

If the WSC has been set to use the Speed mode instead of the Expert mode, it will activate the release unit at an altitude of approx. 750 feet (225 meters) and down to approx. 330 feet (100 meters) above ground level, if the vertical speed is higher than approx. 102 mph (46 m/s).

8. Do I need to change my AAD’s batteries?

The power supply of CYPRES 2 costs zero money for the user. That means that CYPRES 2 battery should power the unit for its entire service life. CYPRES 2 users have never spent any money on batteries since 2003. There is no need to observe a replacement date, record the number of jumps made, monitor the voltage during self-test, watch for a ‘low bat’ sign, purchase a battery, or have a rigger open or repack the reserve for this reason.

9. CYPRES Aerospace Applications

CYPRES release units are currently being used in aerospace applications (satellites) due to their high reliability and other properties. 

Mission. Stratus with Nasa and Redbull skydiving from the space.

10. Dropzone offset

CYPRES allows for adjustments of up to plus/minus 3000 feet, or plus/minus 1000 meters. Larger corrections (+ than 1000m) would cause inaccurate activation altitudes, since the air pressure differences in the mountains are unpredictable. The effect could be an activation altitude that is too low, which in this case could be fatal. When an adjustment has been made, either “meter “or “ft“ is shown on display.

Switch on CYPRES only at the takeoff site on the ground. To make the dropzone offset adjustment, simply leave your finger pressed firmly on the button when you press it for the fourth time during the switch-on. CYPRES will continue with its self-test, and once it has finished, it will display 30 feet (or 10 meters) with an arrow pointing up.

In case that you jump to an elevation that is 30 feet higher than your takeoff, then release the button. If you keep it pressed, then CYPRES displays 30 feet (10 meters) with an arrow pointing down. When going to jump to a 30 feet lower elevation, then release the button.

If you keep pressing, then CYPRES displays 60 feet (20 meters) with an arrow pointing up. In case that you are going to jump to a 60 feet higher elevation, then release the button.

Assuming that you keep it pressed, then CYPRES displays… This carries on until 3000 feet (1000 meters).

So you can adjust to a higher or lower landing elevation of up to 3000 feet (1000 meters) effortlessly.

The dropzone offset will remain indicated on display. CYPRES will adjust automatically for this change during the next jump (only).

11. Water landings are okay!

CYPRES 2 allows for water jumps without removal of the unit. CYPRES 2 is waterproof for up to 24 hours down to a water depth of 8 feet (2.5 meters). This is achieved through a water-resistant casing, sealed plug connections, a sealed cutter, a sealed control unit, and a special filter. The filter allows precise measurement of the air pressure and, at the same time, keeps water away from the inside of the unit. As long as there is no contact with water, the filter never needs to be replaced by the user.

Changing the filter

After water contact, the unit must be switched off immediately after exiting the water. The filter must be replaced before the next use.

The CYPRES 2 filter changer tool is made from stainless steel, specifically for filter removal and replacement. Filter replacement can be done by your rigger.

Remember: After water contact, the rig and the reserve must be dried according to the manufacturer’s instructions. After that, the rig and CYPRES 2 with the new filter can be used again.

skydiving water landing

12. Things that I need to avoid with my CYPRES

  • A Student, Expert, Speed, or Wingsuit CYPRES will not work if the aircraft is exited before it reaches 1500 feet (450m) above the airfield takeoff elevation and 1500 feet (450m) above the intended dropzone elevation. In the case of a Tandem CYPRES, 3000 feet (900m) has to be reached. In this case, pull your reserve right away. If you would wait for your AAD to activate it would take too much time to reach the activation speed and too much time and altitude to initiate the deployment of your canopy.
  • Please ascend at more than 180 feet per minute (1 meter per second) for at least 30 seconds.
  • Never descend to an altitude below the airfield takeoff elevation.
  • Suppose CYPRES has been adjusted to a dropzone elevation above airfield takeoff elevation. The aircraft has climbed above the intended dropzone elevation. In that case, it must not descend below the intended dropzone elevation again.
  • Suppose CYPRES has been adjusted to a drop zone elevation altitude below the airfield takeoff elevation. In that case, the aircraft must not descend below the intended dropzone elevation.
  • When using an aircraft capable of pressurization, ensure that the cabin remains open when the turbines are started up. Leave a window, a door, or the ramp open a bit until after liftoff. It has to be ensured that the cabin pressure cannot build up above the air pressure on the ground. Hint: skydiver’s altimeters should never go below zero.

A simple rule: Never descend below the elevation of the takeoff airfield or the intended DZ!

Keep coming back

The Automatic Activation Device is something that no one wants to use. However, it’s very important in case of an emergency. Lack of information can cause an accident. The best way to prevent that is to research your AAD and any other part of your gear. If you want to learn more about your CYPRES AAD, you can find its user guide online in many languages.

If you like the article, please let me know, send me an email or a message on Instagram. I want to know about your experience and thoughts!

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