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Frequently Asked Questions

A: Ziplines use different types of braking systems depending on the braking angle and braking speed. Combinations of a pulley, redirect, hand braking, and spring brakes are often used. No Skyline builds use hand braking methods, and we err towards using a 2:1 spring brake system with a redirect rope. This places a catch block at the start of the braking system, with a rope anchored to the installed spring brakes to dissipate force and ensure the smoothest, safest braking experience possible.

A: There is essentially no chance that a commercial-grade zipline would break. Galvanized steel cables between 3/8″ and 1″ are used for large ziplines, and there would be many warning signs before a cable can break. Commercial ziplines are required to undergo annual inspections which would pick up on these deficiencies before they have the chance to impact rider experience.

A: The thickness of steel cable used in a zipline build comes down to multiple factors such as length, angle, and rigging capabilities. Commercial zipline operations use between 3/8″ and 1″ galvanized steel cable.

A: The slope needed to build a zipline depends on the length and elevation of the proposed line. As a general rule of thumb, a slope of at least 6% is required for a flight that has enough speed to reach the braking system. You can calculate the slope of the planned line using the rise divided by the run (or the elevation loss over the length of the line segment). Other factors such as proximity to natural features and scenic landscape also lend themselves to ride quality.

A: The 7 steps of a zipline build we go through with every one of our sites are site discovery, site design, engineering, fabrication, construction/installation, training, and safety inspections. You can read more about each of these steps on our blog post on the topic.

A: All ziplines must include some type of braking method. The method used depends on the line profile, arrival speed of the flyers, and available braking distance. Typically, some combinations of a pulley, redirect, hand braking, or spring brakes are used. With large commercial ziplines, it’s not advised to use hand brake systems.

A: One of the main calculations to ensure a zipline build is feasible is calculating the slope percentage. This is done using a simple rise over run calculation to determine if there will be enough elevation loss (which translates to speed) to get riders to the end of the line and properly engage the braking system. Many other site specific calculations are required during the engineering and fabrication phase of the build as well. (link to engineering and fab pages)

A: Zipline cable, and the accompanying infrastructure, require various installation methods depending on the site, surrounding geography, and engineering specifications. Zipline cable is often installed by walking the course and stringing a guide rope then pulling the steel cable using the rope as leverage. Zipline cable can also be installed by pulling it with a motorized vehicle or helicopter. Skyline uses steel towers for our builds, which are installed using heavy machinery.

A: Zipline cable is comprised of many smaller steel cables that are spun together during manufacturing. This results in a cable with a very high breaking strength and exceptional rigidity. It also ensures the cable is not compromised if one spool of cable is of a lesser quality than any other.

A: Commercial ziplines use galvanized steel for the cable, and a combination of wood and/or steel for the take-off and landing towers. Concrete is used for the tower foundations, and concrete and steel is used for the anchoring of the towers.

A: Ziplines have become increasingly safe throughout the years with stricter inspection and build policies. However, accidents can still be caused when ziplines are installed by companies that don’t have enough experience, or sites that have not provided their operators with sufficient training. To make ziplines as safe as possible, modern equipment and technology  should be used, and the engineering and installation should be done by a reputable company.

A:  Ziplines can be installed without trees, and commercial ziplines should not make a habit of using trees as a primary support in their build. When constructing long ziplines, trees do not provide adequate strength to tension a large cable tight enough to create a smooth and safe ride. Modern commercial ziplines use steel foundations  for their take-off and landings towers, with wood for the decking and other tower details.

A: Ziplines are gravity-fed attractions that make use of a downhill slope to deliver riders to the finish. They consist of a take-off platform that is higher than the landing platform. The rider travels down the line using a wheeled trolley, and are attached to the trolley with a harness and other methods, such as carabiners, ropes, and slings.

A: Skyline has built in dozens of countries and states during our nearly 2 decades in business. Skyline has built, or has their equipment in use, on 6 of 7 continents, over 20 countries, and more than 30 US states, including our popular sites located in Haiti, Labadee, and Cococay.

A: Some industry innovations Skyline has commercialized include the first to employ positive angle zipline braking, the spring brake system used by the majority of zipline operations now, first manual trolley launching device, first electronic trolley launching device first to incorporate parallel ziplines, first to use composite wheels in trolleys, first automatic motorized trolley, and the fastest zipline braking speed in the world.

A: Most commercial ziplines can accommodate rides between 75 lbs. and 275 lbs. However, this is dependent on line length and the slope of the line. It is imperative that riders make it to the end of the line in a variety of weather conditions.

A: Overall, ziplines are considered very safe. However, safety of each operation is impacted by the training of the operators, the quality of the equipment used, the build decisions employed by the course designer, and the installation methods used. It’s important to only employ professional zipline builders when considering a commercial operation.

A: The longest single zipline segment Skyline has built is just under 1.8 km. It is situated in northern Japan at Hanazono Resort and is part of the longest zipline tour in Asia. 

A: The life span of a zipline cable depends on the materials used that make contact with the cable and the location of the zipline. Many zipline cables will have to be replaced every 2-5 because they use metal running parts (trolley wheels, braking clamps, etc.), but cables for Skyline builds routinely last 7-12 years as we don’t have any metal-on-metal contact in our patented zipline system. If the operation is based in a coastal environment, the cable can start to erode more quickly due to the salty air from the sea.