After deaths and significant injuries over the past few years, the National Transportation Safety Board wants to make parasail activities safer. Its findings and recommendations could have an impact on Hawaii's parasailing operators.
Across the United States, an estimated 3-5 million people get reeled out into the sky every year. While much of that takes place in the summer, in Hawaii parasail business happens year-round.
Even though there are hundreds of U.S. operators, there are no federal regulations, specific training or guidelines to ensure safety standards during parasailing.
"The industry is totally unregulated right now, which leads to negligent behavior by some operators," said Tommy Berg, with Paradise Watersports.
In the NTSB reports, eight serious parasailing accidents were highlighted, including two deadly accidents that happened here in Hawaii.
"What has happened out here is the towline has snapped. People go off floating away and that can create a very serious condition when they land in the water," said Berg.
Recent start-up parasail operator Paradise Watersports not only has a new boat, but also the latest safety gear, even though the company is not yet required to carry them.
The gear includes a para-snail: which will slow the boat down when it is tossed in the water -- even if the boat has lost power. Parasail flights also include a "Chute wrangler".
"If there is a problem and we do have to land them in the water, they pull this cord like a rip cord on the "Chute wrangler" and it releases the main parachute," said Berg.
Ropes were closely analysed in the NTSB report.
Some of the towlines used have a tensile strength up to 10,000 pounds, but simply tying a knot in it cuts that strength in half. It was also found when boats and wind speed combined to reach more than 35 mph, the towlines reached their breaking point.
"It's a very safe sport, if operators follow really just common sense. We don't go out in sustained winds of 25 mph, which is when most injuries occur," added Berg.
Under NTSB recommendations, parasail operators would have to follow stricter operating conditions and have to complete a certification course through the Coast Guard.
Current Hawaii operators are required to have a business permit, insurance and a boat inspected and certified by the Coast Guard. The state makes sure parasail activities take place in designated zones, but the head of the boating division said they don't have the expertise to inspect towlines and harnesses -- which are critical to parasailing.