Routine inspections are a necessary part of aerial park operations. Inspections—daily, annual, and all types in between—can mean the difference between a healthy, thriving attraction and a closed one. If scheduled regularly and performed on time, they can be easily incorporated into the fabric of park operations. Here’s a primer on the different types of inspections that all parks can incorporate.
Presumably, all operating parks perform a daily inspection each morning before the park opens to the public or the first tour begins. The best resource for pre-use checks and inspections is the course manufacturer, and all should provide inspection checklists as part of their service.
The course design and terrain will dictate much of the daily inspection process. However, most prior-to-use inspections include, at a minimum, a ground-up visual assessment, identification of environmental hazards, full cycle function test, and operational equipment checks.
Course inspection doesn’t stop in the morning—it should continue throughout the programming day. Operators and other staff should be able to identify red flags that crop up as the course is being used. For example, they should note any sort of change in equipment. Is the zip riding faster or slower than usual, in a way that cannot be explained by wind or weather? Is a guy cable particularly loose or tight? Are decks and towers level and plumb? Are there visible signs of excessive wear or damage? Change is a big indicator that something needs to be addressed.
The next level of inspection is referred to as “periodic,” simply because the frequency will depend on the type of course and throughput levels (high use = wear and tear, and a shorter period between inspections). Again, the manufacturer of the course is an excellent resource for determining how often to do periodic inspections, and what that process involves for your course.
Typically, periodic inspections are performed on a weekly, monthly, or semi-annual basis, by senior staff or managers. Depending on the recommendations of the manufacturer and training of the staff performing the inspection, this might include some maintenance, such as:
• checking and/or adjusting cable
• tightening bolts
• removing and servicing specialty
braking or descent devices
• other more in-depth checks.
It is imperative that the staff performing this level of inspection is properly trained to do so, including training in working-at-height access procedures.
Other types of inspections include initial or “commissioning” inspections, and annual inspections.
Commissioning inspections take place when a course is initially installed, prior to first use, or after a major modification or addition to the course. Annual inspections are just that.
ACCT standards require that commissioning and annual inspections be performed by a “qualified person”—defined as someone who, by extensive experience, degree, training, or certification, has explicit knowledge of and demonstrated ability to perform the task. Often this service is provided by a third party, which might include the course builder or an accredited vendor.
The inspector should provide you with some form of immediate feedback regarding anything critical, and a full, detailed report, including failures and recommended repairs, in a timely manner.