close
close

JETFORCE
The Story Behind the Product

JETFORCE
The Story Behind the Product
A FRACTURE LINE CRACKED below the ridge, the slope almost immediately shattering into the telltale web of a slab avalanche. Eighteen inches of fresh had fallen overnight, and the new snow quickly gained momentum as it raced down the open bowl. But in the gray light of the morning, amidst the debris swirling below, a large red balloon appeared.

From the safety of the ridge, a half-dozen skiers watched with satisfaction. All was well on that stormy day in 2012, the avalanche intentionally triggered by the Snow Basin Ski Patrol. The airbag that had risen from the debris had been strapped to a dummy, not a real person. The slide was a test. And until that moment, Black Diamond JetForce Technology had been just simulations, theories and assumptions. This slide was the first real-world proof of concept for the system—it was a revolutionary avalanche safety tool, and it worked.

****

Avalanche airbag systems have been used and proven in the field for more than 20 years. But Black Diamond’s goal in creating JetForce Technology was not to add another compressed air canister system to the market, but to come up with a design that answered the numerous limitations of this existing paradigm. The current packs weren’t allowed on airplanes, they needed to be reloaded between each deployment and there was no way to test or practice with them before a real accident occurs. So Black Diamond’s product team, led by design engineer Pete Gompert, decided to start from scratch. And in this case, starting from scratch meant begging an old computer fan from the company’s IT department and pairing it with a plastic bag.

Gompert had been toying with concepts that could possibly reinvent the current system—chemical reactions, mechanical springs—but nothing stuck. Then, on a whim, he placed a plastic garbage bag over the small exhaust fan on a computer. Much to his surprise, the bag filled with air in only 10 or 15 seconds. So the team stepped up their game, ordering some high-powered, duct fans and a high-tensile airbag. The inflation time quickly shrank to just a few seconds.

Inflation and Deflation

When deployed, JetForce’s battery-powered fan inflates a 200-liter airbag. The bag fully inflates in 3.5 seconds.

A puncture recovery cycle follows inflation, helping to maintain the bag in the event of a tear. At one minute and 30 seconds, a volume maintenance cycle begins.

After three minutes of inflation, the jet fan reverses and the airbag deflates, aiding in extraction, creating an air pocket and facilitaing repacking.

Rechargeable Electronic System

Powering JetForce Technology is a rechargeable, travel-friendly lithium-ion battery. An external port makes recharging as easy as plugging in a cell phone.

JetForce can redeploy multiple times on a single charge, costing nothing—in time or money—to practice as often as needed.

Automatic System Self-Diagnostic

Electronics perform a "good-to-go" system check on every start-up, and LED lighting in the handle indicates system status.

Extras

All JetForce Packs feature a dedicated avy-tool pocket, a HiLo helmet holder and internal accessory pocket.

In addition, all JetForce Packs feature tuck-away diagonal ski carry that allows the airbag to deploy, even while skis are attached. The Saga 40 also accommodates for snowboard carry.

The Halo 28 Pack features a single ice-axe attachment, while the Saga 40 features ice-tool PickPockets™.

AS THE TEAM REFINED THE SYSTEM, there was still something missing. While Black Diamond has a rich history and deep knowledge in mechanical systems, the company’s acquisition of PIEPS in 2012 provided the missing link to JetForce Technology. PIEPS’ experience with highly technical and life-saving electronics systems that needed to function in extreme cold was integral. “JetForce’s fan spins at 60 or 70,000 rpms and pulls over 20 amps in the cold," Gompert says, "so the electronics had to be custom-built from the ground up.” For nearly three years, PIEPS engineers worked alongside Black Diamond’s product team to refine JetForce Technology’s custom electronics. The team soaked the pack in water, froze it to -30°C for five hours, thawed it, refroze it, then triggered the system. Every base had to be covered.
JetForce Product Tech F15 - Body 2 and Small Video close
ONCE A USABLE PROTOTYPE WAS FINISHED, it was time to put it through the paces. Black Diamond’s team of quality assurance engineers tested the JetForce System in nearly every set of conditions and circumstances imaginable. The company not only worked with the certifying body to develop standards for this new technology, but it designed a host of simulation tests that go above and beyond certification standards. Wear tests on the pack fabric and components, waterproof tests on the electronics, weighted compression tests on the airbag; even the system’s tiniest hardware pieces were submitted to thousands of repetitions in a durability cycle tester.

“The standard tests only goes so far,” Jon Coppi, the lead QA engineer on the JetForce project says. “These extra tests may not be necessary to achieve certification by the standard, but for a customer using it over the lifetime of the product, we think it’s incredibly necessary.”
Outside of the in-house lab, a wide-ranging and dedicated team of field testers put JetForce through more than two full winter seasons and thousands of user days of real-world testing around the globe.

And Coppi was one of them. A dedicated backcountry skier, he was voluntarily buried in a control chamber under several meters of snow to ensure the system could pull air from compressed avalanche debris. He passed on the chance to ride JetForce Technology through a real avalanche, however, bestowing that honor instead on the department’s test dummy, watching from the ridge instead as JetForce underwent its first real-world test.

"That day was the beginning of the culmination of a lot of hard work," Gompert says. "To see JetForce emerge as a truly new technology in the snow safety space and to know that it has the potential to save lives makes it all worth it."



Words: Andy Anderson
Photography: Scott Markewitz & Adam Clark
Videographer: Hennie Van Jaarsveld
Production: Advent Integrated
CLOSE

Pilot 11 JetForce Avalanche Airbag Pack

Images

Designed for heli trips, cat skiing and out-the-gate resort skiing, the Pilot 11 is our minimalist backcountry ski pack featuring JetForce Technology. A revolution in airbag technology, JetForce provides an added margin of safety to your avalanche tool kit, now with updated firmware.
Item# BD681301FREDM_L1
$1,049.95
USD

Item currently unavailable

Notify Me When It's Back In Stock

Variations

  • Color
    Fire Red

Promotions

Free Economy Shipping On Orders Over $100

Product Actions

Add to cart options
Designed for heli trips, cat skiing and out-the-gate resort skiing, the Pilot 11 is our minimalist backcountry ski pack featuring JetForce Technology. A revolution in airbag technology, JetForce provides an added margin of safety to your avalanche tool kit, now with updated firmware. Learn More
CLOSE

Halo 28 JetForce Avalanche Airbag Pack

Close X
Halo 28 JetForce Avalanche Airbag Pack Drag to zoom

Images

The avalanche airbag for day-long tours, featuring backpanel access, a dedicated avy-tools pocket and our JetForce Technology. A revolution in airbag technology, JetForce provides an added margin of safety to your avalanche tool kit, now with updated firmware.
Item# BD681302FREDM_L1
$1,099.95
USD

Variations

Promotions

Free Economy Shipping On Orders Over $100

Product Actions

Add to cart options
The avalanche airbag for day-long tours, featuring backpanel access, a dedicated avy-tools pocket and our JetForce Technology. A revolution in airbag technology, JetForce provides an added margin of safety to your avalanche tool kit, now with updated firmware. Learn More
CLOSE

Saga 40 JetForce Avalanche Airbag Pack

Close X
Saga 40 JetForce Avalanche Airbag Pack Drag to zoom

Images

The ideal avalanche airbag for ski patrollers, snow professionals and hut-to-hut trips, the Saga is our large-capacity backcountry ski pack featuring JetForce Technology. A revolution in airbag technology, JetForce provides an added margin of safety to your avalanche tool kit, now with updated firmware.
Item# BD681303FREDM_L1
$1,149.95
USD

Variations

Promotions

Free Economy Shipping On Orders Over $100

Product Actions

Add to cart options
The ideal avalanche airbag for ski patrollers, snow professionals and hut-to-hut trips, the Saga is our large-capacity backcountry ski pack featuring JetForce Technology. A revolution in airbag technology, JetForce provides an added margin of safety to your avalanche tool kit, now with updated firmware. Learn More