The Coast Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration regulate the vessels that may tow parasailers and flight activities, respectively. The Coast Guard regulates small passenger vessels and other vessels that conduct parasail operations. This does not include oversight of parasailing equipment, safety of passenger(s) aloft or interference with aircraft or banners being towed by aircraft. The FAA regulates parasail flight activities as well as aircraft and banners towed by aircraft. MSIB 002-19 addresses Navigation Rules relevant to the operations of the vessel pulling the parasail wing and provides information to promote safety while operating with passengers aloft in the vicinity of aircraft that may or may not be towing banners.
The Office of Investigations and Analysis issued a Marine Safety Alert to educate professional mariners and the boating public about two recent incidents that led to serious injuries to passengers on uninspected parasail vessels during underway transfer from the vessel to an inflatable raft, (i.e., “banana boat”) that was being towed alongside the vessel by personal water craft (“Jet Ski”).
Over the past 10 years, there have been a total of 68 parasailing-related injuries and 10 deaths. However, since 2013, the industry has seen a remarkable reduction in the number of serious injuries and deaths associated with parasailing-related activities. The Coast Guard attributes the improved safety record to the industry’s development of voluntary standards, specifically ASTM ‘Standard Practices for Parasailing F-3099-14,’ which provides guidance in areas of ‘weather’, ‘equipment’, ‘operations’, and ‘crew proficiency.’