MARD, Understanding the system
Acronyms are sometimes self explanatory but often they can be as equally confusing as the words or phrases that correspond to them. For example, in the realm of skydiving there are multiple initialisms and acronyms used to identify types of jumps HALO (high altitude, low opening), AFF (Accelerated Free Fall) and types of equipment as in an AAD (Automatic Activation Device) or for example, one that is even more obscure,. the MARD system.
This one is confusing to say the least and although a large number of people familiar with skydiving terms may have heard of MARD, they still may not fully comprehend what it is. MARD also known as Main Assisted Reserve Deployment. With regard to parachutes, it is a variation of a safety feature that is essentially a reserve static line that uses the cutaway main canopy to assist in the extraction of the reserve parachute more rapidly.
The process in which it works in effect as a safety mechanism is as follows: In a traditional reserve chute deployment, the reserve pilot parachute pulls the reserve from your container. With the addition of the MARD system, your main parachute supplants the reserve pilot chute, since the main is much larger this would cause the reserve to extract even faster because now the pilot chute is huge. Had you been in terminal velocity when the reserve deployed you would have experienced a hard opening or been pulled up hard, but as your descent has slowed because you have some sort of canopy deployed, you will not experience this.
According to manufacturers of various brand type MARD systems, the safety mechanism increases the rate of deployment four or five times and saves on average 50 to 100 feet of altitude. Several manufacturers have created their own versions of the MARD system, with SkyHook being the original.
Other brand names you may across are Ace, Air Anchor, Boost, Mojo and Trap. To get model specification pertaining to your individual gear and MARD system, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions prior to use.